Dennis Ryan joins OLSON, agency of the future

Dennis Ryan relocates to Minneapolis

Fast growing independent Minneapolis-based OLSON agency has been on an acquisition tear since last May, when it bought a Chicago PR firm, which serves as its Chicago office; in December it absorbed a Minneapolis marketing firm and just weeks ago bought a Toronto-based mobile marketing agency.

Olson’s newest and most visible and exciting addition is Dennis Ryan, Element 79’s partner/chief creative officer.  

He joins March 7 as chief creative officer of one of the 10 top independent full-service agencies in North America, after nearly 30 years in Chicago advertising.  

His appointment followed the promotion of executive CD Tom Fugeman to chief brand officer, a new position.

“Dennis emerged quickly as a favorite in [our] CCO search,” said  Olson president/CEO Kevin DiLorenzo.  “He has a sophisticated and polished creative sensibility, yet he embraces next-generation creativity.” Kevin DiLorenzo, OLSON’s future-sighted CEO

Called “an agency of the future,” OLSON “offers everything, from advertising to analytics — tools to better inform and drive more sophisticated programs to do what’s most important: move the needle on business for our clients,” DiLorenzo added. 

The plan is for Ryan to spend one day a week in Chicago, where he will help drive integration in OLSON’s new West Loop office at 549 W. Randolph.

Chairman John Olson founded the agency in 1992 on the notion that “we live in a new media era” and since then OLSON has grown in “non advertising ways,” taking gigantic leaps every few years as it reinvents itself according to technological and philosophical changes in the advertising business.

Substantial agency growth in just the last eight months

With three strategic acquisitions in less than one year, OLSON substantially increased billings and staff.  It currently employs 400 and has reported billings of $71 million achieved in great leaps in the past decade.  

General Mills, Target, Capital One, the Minneapolis State Lottery, Northwestern Mutual Fifth Third Bank, Land O’ Lakes and 3M are among its clients.

Just weeks ago it finalized the purchase of Toronto-based MyThum, now called OLSON Mobile, which will account for an estimated 10-15% of the agency’s overall revenue.

Last December, when Chicago-based DIG PR was acquired, the 50 person operation gave OLSON new outposts in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Milwaukee and added Wm. Wrigley, MillerCoors, Southwest Airlines and Harley-Davidson to the client mix.

Six months earlier, OLSON absorbed four-year old Denali Marketing, now called Olsondenali, whose clients include Sun Country Airlines, Toys ‘R’ Us and Best Buy.  

Even before its expansion, OLSON’s phenomenal growth led to Ad Age naming it one of its Agencies to Watch in January, 2010. 

“The shop boasts 11 consecutive years of double-digit growth. Its reputation may have been built doing project work for marketers such as Target and General Mills, but recent wins show OLSON is progressing into a shop trusted with agency-of-record responsibilities,” it stated. 

All of which sounds like an ideal place for someone like Ryan, who had been contemplating, exploring and writing about what’s next in the advertising industry, before he and OLSON discovered they might’ve been made for each other.