The medium is still the message: 6 more PE deals involving marketing, advertising

Advent, Dubin Clark and EagleTree headline some of the deals we've seen in the advertising and marketing space.

Marketing has undergone a digital evolution, as the internet, mobile and other technological advances have been leveraged to reach consumers. The evolution has placed a spotlight on the marketing and advertising agencies that aim to offer swift creative ideas to communicate through strategies, such as search engine optimization and social media marketing.

Throughout the year, PE Hub has seen increased interest in deals involving digital marketing. We rounded up half a dozen deals earlier in the year. Now we’re taking a look at another half-dozen deals involving marketing agencies in the past six months (listed in reverse chronological order).

1. Alaris backs The Shipyard

In September, Alaris Equity Partners made a $59.5 million investment in The Shipyard, a full-service advertising agency based in Columbus, Ohio.

Founded in 2013, The Shipyard is an integrated marketing agency that aims to combine data science with integrated media, creative and analytical processes.

Based in Calgary, Canada, Alaris may invest $5.5 million more if The Shipyard achieves financial milestones.

2. Dubin Clark-backed Level Agency acquires Becker Media

In August, Level Agency, a company backed by Dubin Clark, announced it had completed the acquisition of marketing agency Becker Media.

Dubin Clark is a private equity firm based in Jacksonville Beach, Florida and Boston. Level Agency is a digital marketing firm based in Pittsburgh. Becker Media is based in Novato, California, and specializes in the education sector.

“Becker Media is an outstanding fit for Level Agency that will provide a broader base of customers within the higher education market,” Thomas Cooperrider, a principal at Dubin Clark, said in a statement. “We look forward to scaling up operations meaningfully in the space as well as exploring new markets with the combined team.”

3. EagleTree sells Sparks to Freeman

New York-based private equity firm EagleTree Capital announced an exit from marketing agency Sparks in August, selling the agency to live events company Freeman.

Headquartered in Philadelphia, Sparks doubled in size from 2019, according to a statement announcing the news. EagleTree initially invested in Sparks in 2020.

“This exit represents a validation of our expertise and conviction in the live events sector and in the fact that Sparks is a best-in-class operator,” Michael Struble, senior partner of EagleTree, said in a statement.

4. NexPhase-backed Calcium+Company buys CSG Health Group

Calcium+Company, a healthcare marketing agency backed by NexPhase Capital, acquired scientific communications firm CSG Health Group in June. Calcium+Company and NexPhase are both based in New York. CSG Health Group is headquartered in Boynton Beach, Florida.

CSG Health Group specializes in promotional and educational strategies and initiatives directed to healthcare professionals.

5. WILsquare Capital-backed OuterBox makes Trinity Insight acquisition

In April, OuterBox Solutions, a portfolio company of WILsquare Capital, acquired digital agency Trinity Insight, which is based in Philadelphia.

St Louis-based WILsquare Capital originally acquired OuterBox in June of 2022 as its third platform addition in a span of nine months. Based in Copley, Ohio, OuterBox is a digital marketing agency.

6. Advent sells Tag to Dentsu

In March, Boston-based Advent International exited marketing production company Tag, selling it to advertising and marketing agency Dentsu. According to a statement, Advent invested more than $100 million in Tag over the past five years.

Tag is a global omni-channel marketing production company headquartered in London. Dentsu is an international advertising and public relations joint stock company headquartered in Tokyo.

The transaction was approved by the boards of directors of both companies and is anticipated to close later in 2023, subject to receipt of required antitrust approvals and customary closing conditions.

“We have worked in partnership with Tag’s leadership team to build a world leader in marketing activation,” said Chris Benson, director at Advent. “Under Advent’s ownership, the company has grown significantly and continues to achieve double digit organic revenue growth.”