1982 saw the launch of two of the world’s premier creative agencies: Wieden+Kennedy (which remains independent) and Bartle Bogle Hegarty, now owned by Publicis Groupe.
Four years later came a third, Forsman & Bodenfors, in the unlikely environs, perhaps, of Gothenburg.
Now F&B, which won the Cannes Lions PR Grand Prix this year for Swedish retailer Coop, has finally succumbed to a holding company, selling to MDC Partners for $32m in shares plus an earn-out. F&B will partner with MDC’s Crispin Porter+Bogusky in markets outside Scandinavia.
F&B is taking a big bet on MDC, rocked by the enforced departure of founder and CEO Miles Nadal last year following an expenses storm. MDC shares have appeared to defy gravity over the years as the company has yet to turn a proper profit despite owning premier league creative shops Anomaly and 72andSunny, alongside KBS and CP+B who’ve had their ups and downs. F&B employs about 300 people and its clients include IKEA, Volvo (below) and Procter & Gamble.
MDC is now helmed by Scott Kauffman, who made his career in Silicon Vally and was expected to expand into media and media tech, if anywhere. But Kauffman says: “I thought it was really important for the first acquisition to send a clear signal to the marketplace about what makes us unique. Many of the aspects of ad tech are nearing commoditization, but creative innovation is a true differentiator for global marketers.” Good for him.
F&B CEO Erik Sollenberg says: “We needed a partner to expand our business. The ad world is becoming more and more global.”
Indeed it is. Is MDC, especially CP+B, the right partner? MDC is a funny one, half holding company, half federation. Somehow or other Kauffman should be able to find a way of making money out of all these creative assets, especially now Nadal’s exes are off the books.
Then, of course, it may well become a target for one of its bigger peers. But that’s a story for another day.