KBS merges with Forsman & Bodenfors

MDC creates a new global agency with 700 employees in eight cities, including Toronto and Montreal.

MDC Partners has merged KBS with Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, creating a new global agency under the Forsman & Bodenfors name.

The merger will bring together 700 employees from Forsman & Bodenfors offices in Gothenburg and Stockholm, as well as KBS’ offices in Toronto, Montréal, New York, London, Shanghai and Singapore.

Forsman & Bodenfors was founded in Sweden in 1986 and was bought by MDC in 2016. To international audiences, it is likely best known for award-winning work such as the “Epic Split” for Volvo Trucks. The agency is also known for its “non-hierarchical” leadership structure, which will be maintained now that it is becoming a global agency, meaning it won’t have a global chief creative role.

“Forsman & Bodenfors’ culture of collaboration and flat team structure are designed to break free from the standard hierarchical agency model, which allows us to deliver outsized creativity,” said global executive chairman Anna Qvennerstedt. “Because our teams work autonomously toward our clients’ aims, the only boss is the task itself, and we’re excited to apply our collective creative thinking for the benefit of our local and global clients.”

At the global level, Qvennerstedt will be retaining her role, and Guy Hayward, previously global CEO of KBS, will become the new CEO of Forsman & Bodenfors.

There are no layoffs or leadership changes expected at KBS’ Canadian offices as a result of the merger.

The leadership team in Canada includes national CCO Matt Hassell, CFO Sharmila Selvarajah, Toronto managing director Lorri MacDonald, Montreal general manager Pierre-Luc Paiement, recently hired chief strategy officer Lance Koenig, as well as ECDs Sacha Ouimet, Laura Kim, Glen D’Souza and Mike Takasaki. Rick Chiarelli, KBS Canada’s chief marketing officer, left the agency in February for a role at Gale Partners.

The merged agency’s client roster now includes Diageo, H&M, Hyatt, P&G, Vanguard and Volvo, with Canadian clients including The Keg and the recently won LG Electronics.

The Media Kitchen, KBS’s full-service media agency brand that launched a Canadian outpost last year, will retain its name and continue to offer its services as usual.

Last week, MDC’s chairman and CEO Scott Kauffman announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the holding company, which he took in 2015. The impending departure was announced shortly after MDC released its second quarter results, which showed an organic revenue decline of 1.7%.

More to come.