It’s been a turbulent few years for Canadian marcoms company Cossette’s UK businesses ever since the disastrous merger of digital agency Dare and well-regarded creative agency MCBD in 2010.
MCBD was absorbed into Dare – a classic case of two and two equalling three or less – and last year MCBD stalwarts Any Nairn, Helen Calcraft and Danny Brooke-Taylor set up one of the more promising UK newbies, Lucky Generals.
Now Cossette owner Vision7 has sold 85 per cent its North American interests to go-go Chinese outfit BlueFocus for S210m, leaving Dare, integrated agency Elvis and brand agency Identica still in the hands of former Vision7 owner Mill Road Capital (I know this is getting complicated).
But the upshot is that Mill Road is looking for a buyer for its three UK agencies; a fact that might interest one of the smaller independent UK marcoms players, WPP-backed The&Partnership which is busily trying to grow (and has an eye for a bargain, as it showed when it bought the remains of DM agency Rapier) or the agencies’ own management if they think Dare can still go it alone. Some of the US agencies that have recently launched in the UK – such as Anomaly, CP+B and Droga5 – may be interested too.
BlueFocus’s decision to ignore Cossette’s UK assets is interesting; the $4.6bn Chinese PR giant has invested in the UK by buying a minority in quoted PR group Huntsworth and 83 per cent of social media agency We Are Social for $30m. Cossette is far bigger in Canada (Quebec office above) with an outpost in Chicago and BlueFocus clearly thinks its North American businesses have better prospects than it UK ones.