Nadal’s holding company — known best for being the parent of Crispin, Porter & Bogusky — has been snapping up PR agencies lately. Recent acquisitions include Attention in September, Sloane and Co. in April and Allison & Partners just last week.
AdAge: You’ve been on an acquisition spree, buying up a number of lesser-known agencies. Why is MDC so aggressive right now?
Mr. Nadal: There was a great quote by Warren Buffett that says when it’s raining gold, you should find a pail and not a thimble. We started [acquiring] a year ago when the world was very uncertain. There were a number of firms that were in the fastest-growing areas of marketing communications, i.e. PR, social media, interactive, data analytics and data mining and experimental. These are firms we had been following for a long period of time.
We intentionally [held off before] because we didn’t understand the value proposition of the businesses other people were acquiring. We are contrarian. When everyone was growing through acquisition, we were growing organically. … When nobody was being acquisitive, we thought this is a wonderful time. For the most part, banks are not lending, and our access to capital is more valuable to partners today than before.
The marketplace has changed drastically and the environment of media has changed with fragmentation. The firms that really understand the changing landscape and know how to come up … are the younger, more entrepreneurial firms in our industry. They really are in the business of trying to identify return on marketing investment for our clients.