Forsman & Bodenfors absorbs KBS as owner MDC Partners faces restructuring

When top Swedish creative shop Forsman & Bodenfors joined MDC Partners a couple of years ago we noted it was a high risk strategy and events seem to be bearing this out.

Originally F&B was to be combined in an alliance with MDC’s Crispin Porter+Bogusky (CP+B) itself struggling to cope with life after Alex Bogusky (who’s recently returned). That never flew, coming to an end last year it seems.

Now F&B is merging with MDC’s KBS (formerly Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners and once a New York hotshop) and the KBS brand is being “retired.” We’ll be hearing a lot more of this in adland. In effect F&B is taking over what’s left of KBS, which now no longer includes the US BMW account which has gone to Goodby Silverstein.

Forsman & Bodenfors chairman Anna Qvennerstedt is executive chairman of the new F&B with KBS boss Guy Hayward, who once helmed JWT in London, as global CEO. The agency will be co-located in Sweden and New York which is, as they say, something of a stretch. It has eight offices across the world and, according to Ad Age, an income of $133m in 2017 although that was, presumably, pre-BMW departing.

Forsman & Bodenfors was a brilliant creative agency, most notably for Volvo Trucks. Other big clients include Sweden’s H&M. But whether or not it can hack things internationally is another matter.

Most of MDC’s multiple agencies have networks of one sort or another but none of them very large. It would make more sense to combine them into one across the world but getting agreement from the various components, which also include Anomaly and 72andSunny, would be a nightmare.

MDC CEO Scott Kauffman recently announced he was stepping down after three years trying to sort out the mess left by founder Miles Nadal. His eventual successor’s first task might be a fire sale.

CP+B’s Bogusky, who’s been spending time in the corporate start-up world, might be a buyer as might S4C’s Sir Martin Sorrell if he sees any undervalued nuggets in the MDC portfolio.

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