McMillan acquires Ottawa-based video production firm that serves Shopify, Tesla

McMillan pic
Craig McCallion (left), Graham Rapsey (middle) and Wes Theoret of Crafted Stories. Photo provided.

Ottawa’s McMillan has brought a local video production firm in-house, deepening its talent pool as it builds a global client base.

The local advertising and marketing agency said this week it has acquired Crafted Stories, a three-person company that makes videos and provides social media services for a client roster that includes Shopify, Tesla Motors and the National Arts Centre. Terms of the deal were not released.

“We have a great video team, but what we were finding is it’s hard to find great video talent, and our clients are asking for more and more video,” said McMillan founder and CEO Gord McMillan. “This helps us build up that team.”

The largest company in its field in Ottawa, McMillan is a rare beast in the National Capital Region: an ad agency that doesn’t chase government contracts. More than 90 per cent of its business comes from the United States and Europe, and McMillan said those clients ​– many of which are multinational corporations ​– set a high bar when it comes to quality.

“They expect the talent from McMillan to be on par with New York, on par with L.A., on par with London,” he said. “It’s all about the talent.”

Crafted Stories founder Graham Rapsey will become one of McMillan’s three creative directors, joining colleagues Alain Brunet and Jacob Bryce. It’s a homecoming of sorts for the graduate of Algonquin College and the Vancouver Film School, who spent 10 years at the agency as a designer and creative director before striking out on his own in 2010.

“I learned a lot at McMillan and have always admired the culture,” Rapsey said in a statement. “Now I have a chance to integrate what I’ve learned building my own creative company into a much larger team focused on global brands.”

In his new post, Rapsey will lead a team of art directors, designers and copywriters that will craft campaigns for a handful of key clients, including Kanata’s Trend Micro.

“There’s a big upside for us because that’s a senior post that we’ve struggled to fill with someone from Ottawa,” said McMillan. “He has that curiosity that allows him to speak effectively with clients. The second thing is, at the end of the day, he’s a storyteller.”

It’s the second acquisition this year for the ByWard Market-based firm, which also bought marketing and design outfit Fancy Boys back in February. The latest deal raises McMillan’s headcount to about 85 and brings with it the potential for lucrative new business as well.

McMillan said he’s already in talks with some of Crafted Stories’ clients, noting his agency can offer them a broader suite of services that includes strategic marketing and rebranding.

“There’s actually a great opportunity for us to not only continue those relationships, but expand those relationships beyond the niche that Crafted Stories was working in,” he said. “So it’s pretty exciting.”