The Shipyard, a small agency based in Columbus, Ohio, has acquired independent shop Mering.
Mering was founded 35 years ago by Dave Mering in Sacramento, California. Formerly known as MeringCarson, the agency changed its name last year after Greg Carson, its longtime partner and chief creative officer, left.
The Shipyard was started nearly 10 years go by Rick Milenthal after his former shop, Engauge, was acquired by Publicis Groupe.
Together, the new entity will employ 120 people across four offices. The Shipyard has a second location in Newport Beach, Calif., while Mering has an additional office in San Diego.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to Milenthal, there are no “changes in staffing and such planned” at this time, although the fate of the Mering name remains to be seen.
“We’re going to look at how we integrate the brand and leadership,” he said. “We’ll have announcements in the first quarter of next year. Our teams have been discussing this and working on how we build a better independent agency for both of us. This is a growth decision, not an efficiency decision.”
For his part, Mering will become equity partner and vice chairman of TSY Enterprises, LLC, the parent company of The Shipyard. Earlier this year, TSY Enterprises was one of thousands of agencies to receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from the U.S. government as a result of Covid-19 and its impact on businesses.
Both Mering and The Shipyard are part of Worldwide Partners, a network of more than 70 independent agencies. Mering said the acquisition allows his shop to expand its areas of expertise and client base.
Over the past 10 years, Mering said his namesake agency has become “very heavy in travel and tourism.” It’s worked with organizations including Visit California, the San Diego Tourism Authority and Visit Napa Valley.
“We’ve had a lot of success in that area, so it’s grown and grown,” Mering said. Despite the fact that the travel and tourism industry has been hit particularly hard this year due to the pandemic, he said the agency has stayed “very busy” and managed to bring on three new clients. It recently created work for VSP Vision Care, an insurance company.
However, Mering said the agency has been forced to “plan, start, pause and replan” several campaigns this year due to the ever-changing nature of Covid-19 rules and restrictions.
The Shipyard has created work for brands including In-N-Out, Scotts Miracle Gro and BrewDog, giving Mering access to a broader client set. Plus, Mering said The Shipyard’s “data analysis and targeting” capabilities complement his agency’s focus on creativity.
“We haven’t been as deep in that area as they are,” Mering said. “We’ve been a little bit deeper on the creative production side and the branding side.”
Milenthal said The Shipyard specializes in bringing together data and creativity. For instance, it worked with Silentnight, a mattress brand, to help it better understand how its ads are performing.
According to The Shipyard’s website, it did this by running “thousands of simple, cost-effective ‘experiments’ in real media to better understand which messages resonated best with which audiences” to help Silentnight make more informed decisions regarding its messaging.
“Our sweet spot is when media and creativity [are] together,” Milenthal said.