When Taxi was bought by WPP five years ago, there was some speculation it could eventually be folded into Y&R. Well now the opposite has happened with Y&R closing down its Bloor Street office in Toronto and its business absorbed by Taxi.
The move was announced in a statement Monday afternoon, confirming Y&R’s operations will now operate under the Taxi banner with Rob Guenette, president and CEO, and Paul Lavoie, chairman & CCO, in charge. The changes are limited to Toronto with no impact on Y&R’s Montreal office.
“The Y&R Group wants to streamline its advertising offering in Canada, and it’s just a simple matter of Taxi has broader and deeper scale,” Guenette told Marketing.
“We have the critical mass that is needed today to serve clients better,” he said.
With the Ford business being carved off to new agency brand Blue Hive, and in the wake of other recent client departures at Y&R, it was clear that Taxi had more scale to fully serve the clients of both agency banners, he said.
Late in 2013, Y&R won the BMO account from long-time agency Cossette. It is believed now that BMO has put that account into review, though Guenette could not comment or say if Taxi was pitching for the business.
Last summer, Taxi suffered a tough loss of its own when the Telus account was awarded to The & Partnership. Since then, said Guenette, the agency has been on a bit of a hot streak, winning nine pitches in the last six months regaining some momentum and enough new clients to “put a big dent” in the revenue lost from the Telus move.
Recent Taxi wins include the Vancouver Airport, Cogeco out of the Montreal office, Casino Rama and Leon’s for Toronto while the New York office picked up the V8 brand.
“This is something at the WPP level they have been talking about for quite awhile,” said Guenette of the decision to fold Y&R.
“I think the senior management kind of said we have this one asset in Canada that seems to be on the move, has a very good reputation and is winning more pitches than it is losing…Why are we fighting with each other? Why not combine the assets and just back one horse.”
He said the exact number of employees that will be moved to Taxi’s Wellington Street offices depends on which clients decide to make the shift. “We’re talking in total, probably under 25 people,” he said.
Some accounts, like Pfizer and Mattel, will make the move but others need further discussions.
“Every time there is a change it is never completely straightforward,” he said. Sometimes procurement is involved and in others contract need to be rewritten.
Guenette would not say if senior staff from Y&R would be joining Taxi and Peter Stringham, chairman of Y&R Group globally, did not immediately return a call.
“Our objective is to bring broader and deeper resources to all our clients,” said Stringham in the statement. “This will create the best of both worlds in a more effective and efficient advertising operation. Rob and Paul have been leaders in the market for years and have demonstrated that they have the best management team to lead this combined force.”