72andSunny Sets Sights on Global Expansion With MDC Deal

Holding Co. Takes Majority Stake in Los Angeles-Based Creative Advertising Shop

By Published on . 4

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After a year of steadily inking deals with little-known shops, MDC Partners has taken a majority stake in a well-known one: West Coast creative agency 72andSunny.

Founded in 2004 by ex-Wieden & Kennedy executives John Boiler, Glenn Cole and Robert Nakata, the shop has since grown to 150 employees in two offices. Matt Jarvis, managing director and chief strategy officer, said the agency over the years "has gotten calls but didn't go looking" to ink a deal with a holding company. But, he said, partnering with MDC is what's going to help the shop expand its footprint in other global markets.

"Our difference maker has always been and always will be our unique culture, and MDC is a partner that respects that, appreciates it and is committed to helping it thrive," Mr. Jarvis said. "This company has proven, experienced global talent and does work that operates on a global stage and that's something that we're really interested in."

Mr. Jarvis declined to say which global markets 72andSunny has its eyes set on next. "I don't think we're ready to make a statement on that, but we certainly did this with that in mind," he said.

For Toronto-based MDC, the acquisition helps the holding company, which is commonly knocked for having a single star in Crispin Porter & Bogusky, boost its creative chops. It also gives MDC, which has a footprint in London and Sweden via Crispin Porter, a bolstered presence in Europe; 72andSunny is based in Los Angeles but has an office in Amsterdam.

Last year, for Ad Age's inaugural Small Agency Awards, 72andSunny took home campaign of the year honors for a film it created for Nike Soccer that was directed by Guy Ritchie. In addition to Nike, other clients include Hewlett Packard, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's restaurants, BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, K-Swiss, Discovery Channel, PacSun and Air New Zealand.

Both companies declined to comment on the percentage interest MDC has acquired in 72andSunny. But that it took a majority interest isn't a surprise and is consistent with previous deal parameters. Other marketing firms that have joined the MDC fold this year alone include Kenna; Agency capital C; Think360; Kwittken & Co.; Integrated Media Solutions; Sloane & Co; Allison & Partners; Team Enterprises and Communifx.

"The talent at 72andSunny is as good as we have ever seen," Miles Nadal, chairman-CEO of MDC Partners, said in a statement. "They offer their clients a unique combination of stellar creative firepower, with the ability to make their brands matter in culture, along with the holistic marketing sensibility to seize the multitude of connection points and maximize their earned and unpaid media. ... We believe they are the agency of both today and tomorrow."

The real question is what is the MDC Partners of tomorrow? Judging by the swift pace of acquisitions, growth is a clear strategy for the company, but it's also merged various shops in its portfolio into Crispin Porter and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners.

Earlier this year, a Deutsche Bank analyst released a report that suggested MDC has been open to selling the holding company to players such as Dentsu and Havas. The report stated that management's "willingness to sell is high ... at the right price."

In a subsequent interview with Ad Age, Mr. Nadal insisted that report was "completely misconstrued" and the company has never initiated any talks of a sale but said he understood why MDC might be attractive to others.

Asked what he would do if he was approached by a buyer for MDC, he said, "As the CEO of MDC, I work for the shareholders, and ultimately the shareholders and the board will determine if a bid is made for the company and fair value is being paid. My job is to make sure that the commitments I made to each and every employee of every partner firm is true to the mission of MDC, to reinvent the model of the future, that that's honored and followed to the best of my ability no matter who the shareholder is."

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