Dentsu Aegis Network acquires BJL

Manchester agency has decided to sell, 15 years after a management buyout.

Ronseal: BJL created an ad break in which viewers could watch paint dry
Ronseal: BJL created an ad break in which viewers could watch paint dry

Dentsu Aegis Network has bought BJL, the Manchester-based creative agency, to boost its capabilities in the north of England.

BJL will continue to be led by chief executive Nicky Unsworth, managing partner Jackie Holt and commercial director Iain Kerr, who led a management buyout of the agency in 2004. 

The shop employs 75 people across Manchester and a small satellite office in London, with all staff due to remain in their existing locations.

Its client roster includes Subaru, The Co-operative Bank and Ronseal, for which BJL created a three-minute ad takeover on Channel 4 in 2016 that allowed viewers to watch paint dry. 

Dentsu Aegis Network said BJL’s expertise in brand strategy, advertising, content production, PR, social media and CRM complements the company’s capabilities in the north of England.

It means that the group, which comprises regional operations for agency brands including Carat, Vizeum and iProspect, now employs about 700 people across the northern region. Rachel McDonald, former managing director at Carat Manchester, was appointed to lead Dentsu Aegis Network North as managing director last year after the exit of Elliot Muscant.

McDonald said: "We have worked with BJL for many years and admired both the standout creative work that they deliver and the impressive talent they’ve grown from their headquarters in Manchester. 

"The addition of BJL further strengthens our offering and ability to offer true end-to-end brand solutions for our clients across creative, media, digital and technology."

Last week, Dentsu Aegis Network's global chief executive, Tim Andree, warned that the group's operating margin would be lower than in previous years until 2021 due to increased investment costs over the next two years. 

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