Broadhead, the largest independent advertising and marketing firm in Minnesota, on Wednesday said it would acquire Kohnstamm Communications, a St. Paul-based public relations firm known for launching new foods and food innovators.

The deal unites two well-regarded local marketing executives, Dean Broadhead and Josh Kohnstamm, who both left larger agencies to start firms that would eventually have major reputations in farming and food.

Broadhead, formed in 2001, has built a long list of clients in agriculture, including Mosaic Co., the Minnesota Pork Board and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Kohnstamm moved to the Twin Cities in the late 1980s to help the early marketing of the Mall of America. In 1990, he started his own firm and, since the late 1990s, has helped get more than 100 new foods and beverages onto store shelves and into kitchens, including Honest Tea, Noosa Yoghurt and Angie's Boomchickapop popcorn.

"You're seeing a lot of opportunities in this food market and many around the country. We're excited to be part of that," Broadhead said in an interview Wednesday. "Kohnstamm has been part of that and now we think we can have even better offering in the marketplace to serve that."

Josh Kohnstamm, in his early 60s, said he had been thinking about how to transition his firm, which employs 14, for several years. He approached Broadhead several months ago to explore a potential combination.

"There has been a percolating discussion here over the last three years about what the next step is," Kohnstamm said. "Food marketing and marketing in general has become very complicated. When I went in, it was mostly media relations. Now it's really diversified in terms of the needs of clients, influencer marketing, experiential marketing and advocacy work."

Broadhead had built up numerous skills and services, such as the digital studio, that he admired, Kohnstamm said. He added that his employees and clients will now get the chance to take advantage of Broadhead's broader array of creative and studio services, including video, package design, analytics and media planning and buying.

Terms were not disclosed. The deal adds a third firm to a portfolio of boutique shops within Broadhead that provide services to its clients but retain separate identities and some autonomy from the larger firm. The others are Rabbit, a specialist in marketing data, and N401 Studios, a production facility in downtown Minneapolis.

"We're totally integrated as one organization but it does give us the flexibility to go out as independent brands as well," Broadhead said. "We work with some clients that don't need the full agency."

With about 100 employees, Broadhead became the region's largest independent marketing firm last year after Minneapolis-based Periscope, with about 500 employees, was purchased by Quad/Graphics Inc.

"Our path is how are we going to double revenue in the next five years? That's what our goal is," Broadhead said. "It's a good time to be an independent agency. We want to be able to have the flexibility to devise the services that are helpful to clients."

Kohnstamm will continue to lead his business as a unit of Broadhead and will be attending a natural-foods products trade show next week. "I can focus on marketing challenges and new brands," he said. "This gives me a great opportunity to go back to work I love the most — working with clients."

Evan Ramstad • 612-673-4241