The Stable Acquires Veteran Retail Agency Jacobs Marketing
Chad Hetherington and Jackie Gibney

The Stable Acquires Veteran Retail Agency Jacobs Marketing

Together, the former rivals known for getting new products on the shelves at Target will help brands capitalize on the convergence of retail, e-commerce, and data.

Less than a week after announcing the acquisition of an Arkansas software firm, The Stable is at it again—this time, joining forces with its main Minneapolis rival.

The Stable, a five-year-old agency that specializes in launching brands across all channels of commerce, is acquiring Jacobs Marketing, a long-time go-to retail agency known for getting brands onto the shelves at Target. Founded in 1982 by Duane Jacobs, the agency is now owned and led by his daughter Jackie Gibney, who has helped activate and support hundreds of well-known brands for Target in nearly two decades at the helm. Her entire staff of more than 50 will fold into The Stable. Gibney plans to stay on as chief relationship officer.

“While I’m sure it will take a little getting used to, not being the primary decision maker, I feel like it’s the right time for me,” Gibney said. “The Stable is filled with good people who are open to the ideas and innovative ways of working that my team will bring. I’m super grateful that I got to take the reins of my dad’s company and steer it to where it is today. I’m a collaborator at my core so working with likeminded people who want to take retail to the next level excites me…so does the chance to spend more time with family and on passion projects.”

Jacobs Marketing brings to The Stable an established analytics and insights team. “That’s not something we’ve fully built out yet. It rounds out our service offerings and makes us a stronger partner for brands—early or later stage,” said co-founder and CEO Chad Hetherington.

The acquisition brings The Stable’s employee count to 200 with offices in Bentonville, Ark., Seattle, and Austin, Texas as well as Minneapolis. Local headquarters will move to the Jacobs Marketing office in PWC Plaza on South Seventh Street. The Stable’s Nicollet Mall space near Target Corp. offices will be converted to photo studios and meeting rooms for the expanding company.

The Stable was already in growth mode heading into 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated its plans, Hetherington said. “The growth of e-commerce, the rise of social commerce has helped our strategy. Now it’s about linking offline with an online experience.” But Hetherington still believes in the relevance of physical stores. “I’m actually driving to Target more that ever—I order online and they bring it out to me. There’s still a need for brick and mortar.”

The rising rate of brand launches also fuels The Stable’s work, Hetherington said. “It used to be that knowing the contacts and filling out a few forms was enough to get brands on the shelves. Not anymore,” Gibney added. “There are a gazillion brands vying for shelf space and it takes a ton of research, analytics, and guest empathy to prepare brands for Target.”

Making it into the store is only the beginning, Gibney said. “There’s so much that goes into keeping brands on shelves and ahead of competitors.”

In September, Jacobs rolled out a proprietary insights tool called Jacobs Radius. It associates relevant, local attributes to a retail location to reflect how consumers shop and what influences their behaviors.