Archetype buys London PR agency and reveals new UK boss

Archetype, the Next 15-owned tech agency, has acquired independent London-based firm Marlin PR, and plans to merge the two entities next year.

New colleagues (L-R): Archetype chief executive Helena Maus and Marlin MD Jenny Tod
New colleagues (L-R): Archetype chief executive Helena Maus and Marlin MD Jenny Tod

Marlin PR has been acquired for an undisclosed sum from owner and managing director Jenny Tod – who will take the new role of MD, Archetype UK, once the merger completes on 1 February 2021. Archetype's UK arm is currently led by a management team, which will remain in place following the merger.

Tech specialist Marlin was founded 12 years ago and employs 29 people from its Borough Market office. Its client list includes Slack, Asana and Xiaomi.

The agency has recorded three years of double-digit growth, generating revenue of £2.3m in 2019, according to the PRWeek UK Top 150 Consultancies Report. Double-digit growth is expected again in 2020 despite COVID-19; growth was 25 per cent in the first half of the year.

Archetype was formed in 2018 from the merger of sister Next 15 agencies Bite and Text 100. It generated global revenue of $90m in 2019, according to PRWeek estimates.

Archetype chief executive Helena Maus said: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Jenny and the amazing team at Marlin to the Archetype family. We know Marlin well through our joint work on clients like Slack [and] from the very start, we’ve recognised a shared philosophy and approach.

"Marlin brings great talent and a portfolio of magnetic, fast-growing clients that perfectly complement the strong team and client base we have in London. This acquisition demonstrates our deep commitment to the UK market and helps further our aim to set the standard for the global agency of the future.”

Tod said: “Since 2008, our team at Marlin has been dedicated to supporting innovative technologies and visionaries who share our belief that technology should fulfil its vast potential to make the world a better place. Our mission is the pursuit of better and, as we have grown, so have our ambitions to help the world build back better. We have always aspired to create the archetypal next-generation communications agency and we are so proud that Helena has invited us to join her mission and offered us a global platform to achieve this."

Asked whether the timing of the sale was linked to the pandemic, Tod told PRWeek: "Not at all. In a way, it's motivating us even more to redesign the archetype of a new agency, because it feels like there are so many powerful forces in 2020 that mean you need to have a fundamental reset."

She said the acquisition was "a turbo charge for us to really achieve something bigger".

It hasn't been decided whether the combined agencies will share an office when the merger completes. In September, Next 15 said it was "actively marketing" about one-third of its real estate in London, New York and San Francisco after deeming it "surplus to requirements" amid the shift to more homeworking.

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