Photo credit: Stagwell Group and MDC Partners

Last week, shareholders of MDC Partners successfully delayed a special meeting of the board of directors and shareholders to vote on a proposed merger with the Stagwell Group’s Stagwell Media. At the heart of this matter are demands for more shareholder compensation and concerns over control of the new company by Stagwell Group Founding Partner and MDC Partners Chairman Mark Penn. But what this corporate intrigue ignores are the needs of clients and employees of the nearly created Stagwell/MDC Partners.

Customers And Talent Are Fundamental To Long-Term Success

At Forrester, we believe shareholder value and company growth are best realized through customer-obsessed vision, strategy, and execution. Developing business solutions that meet customer, end user, and employee needs lead to stronger market positions, more brand favorability, and higher valuations. One of the fundamental strategies that unlocks the value of what Forrester calls customer obsession is the potent combination of creativity and technology.

Our recent report, “Reprogram The CMO/Agency Technology Relationship,” assesses the technology, partnerships, and approach of 10 top agency holding companies: Dentsu, Havas Group, IBM iX, IPG, Material+, Omnicom Group, Publicis Groupe, S4Capital, The Stagwell Group, and WPP. Each of the 10 represent distinct advantages (and some similarities), including a combined Stagwell Media and MDC Partners. In this report, we argue:

  • Agency decisions are technology decisions. Forrester perceives that technology will be a major arbiter of agency success. Therefore, understanding an agency’s technology strategy and capabilities must be a major consideration in any agency selection process. The technology inside agencies harnesses big tech, integrates solutions, and champions automation and AI in the creative process. The technology program inside Stagwell Media, combined with the creativity inside MDC Partners, unleashes these.
  • Agency approaches to technology differ. We observe four distinct approaches to agency technology, including an assemble, consult, partner, and build approach. Each represent distinct advantages for firms and CMOs. Stagwell espouses a build philosophy that taps into the company’s combined research, polling, and array of marketing services across Stagwell Media and MDC Partners.
  • Partner selection must complement the firm’s tech strategy. Marketing technology needs are influenced by a myriad of factors, and CMOs’ requirements are rarely identical. Firms vary in geography, industry, strategy, and investment level. Additionally, firms have achieved varying degrees of marketing technology maturity. Some firms would benefit from WPP or Havas Media’s partnership approach. Others would prefer IPG or Publicis Groupe assembling customized solutions. And others require the build approach from Omnicom or a combined Stagwell/MDC Partners.

Align Technology Need With Technological Approach

Companies select their agency partners for a particular combination of capabilities, culture, investment (cost), and technology. The chosen agency should align to the buyer’s particular needs for all four, including technology approach. A combined Stagwell Media/MDC Partners provides an appreciable role in the ecosystem, as do the other nine agency holding companies. So let’s dispense of the merger drama and get back to what agencies do best: serving clients, consumers, and employees with compelling combinations of technology and creativity.

If you are interested in learning more about how to “Reprogram The CMO/Agency Technology Relationship” inside your company and any of the 10 holding companies covered in the report, contact and for inquiries or advisory.