Acquires Majority Stake in Banjo Strategic Entertainment

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Crispin Porter's chairman, Chuck Porter, said MDC is 'investing in the talent' at Banjo.

MDC Partners, which has been buying into advertising agencies, has now bought into the branded entertainment arena. In an agreement announced today, it acquired a majority share of Banjo Strategic Entertainment.

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky

The Toronto-headquartered MDC has been in the spotlight recently for purchasing major stakes in high-profile agencies such as Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, and Bruce Mau Design.

Crispin's chairman, Chuck Porter, who seeks out prospective deals for MDC Partners, said of Banjo, "Everyone talks about branded content; these guys are actually doing it."

Explaining the rationale of MDC's deal, Mr. Porter said, "What we are investing in here is the talent. It is not a huge company; it is a very small company. But in terms of marketing-thought leadership, I think they have the potential to be big."

'North Face Expeditions'

The 5-year-old San Francisco-based Banjo produces entertainment content for marketers. Its best-known work includes the one-hour reality TV show Degree Road to the Ironman, done in conjunction with Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, and the five-part
Crispin Porter's chairman, Chuck Porter, said MDC is 'investing in the talent' at Banjo.

series The North Face Expeditions. The latter features a number of outdoor adventure treks inspired by the outdoor gear-maker's tradition of testing its goods in real-life adventures, which the company then documents. The Degree Road to the Ironman aired on NBC last October; The North Face ran on NBC in 2000.

Banjo was founded in 1999 by Ron Walter, a former art director at Omnicom's Goodby Silverstein & Partners, and Pat Madden, an ex-group account director at Hal Riney & Partners. Before launching Banjo, the pair founded advertising agency Blazing Paradigm, also in San Francisco, which was shuttered in 2002. While they are fundamentally TV producers, Mr. Walter said their services are broader than that. "We create the content and make sure it is executed in the proper way. We are really representing a brand within these entertainment venues."

General Mills TV show

Banjo's current projects, said Mr. Walter, include one for General Mills that would have a TV show as its core component.

In addition to Messrs. Walter and Madden, Banjo's other principle is Mark Simmons, a former executive at Coca-Cola Co., Omnicom's Abbot Mead Vickers/ BBDO and, most recently, Crispin Porter & Bogusky in Los Angeles.
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