MDC's Anomaly acquisition not its last

MDC Partners acquired a majority stake in digital shop Anomaly this week. The investment will fuel the agency's expansion from its current presence in New York and London to Brazil, China and mainland Europe, the company said.

Carl Johnson, who cofounded the firm, previously served as global COO at TBWA/Chiat/Day. His global experience is one of the many factors that made Anomaly attractive to MDC. 

“Anomaly is a company we've been following for five years,” said Miles Nadal, chairman, CEO and president of MDC. “They have an extraordinary depth of talent and are really very sophisticated in terms of digital and social work.”

The acquisition is one of many that MDC has made in recent years, and according to Nadal, it will not be the last.

“We have spent about $125 million in the past 15 months, and we'll do the same in the next 15 if we can find like-minded firms that are a good fit,” he said. “We have $200 million in excess liquidity so we're in a great position to be more bullish than we've ever been.”

Nadal said MDC focuses on five areas of specialization when considering growth: Social, digital, experiential, digital insight and PR. MDC invests between 51% and 80% in each company it partners with, with the goal of facilitating entrepreneurship and growth without mandating strategy at each.

“In terms of business, you want market leaders and firms with a sustainable point of differentiation, or what Warren Buffet would call a 'durable competitive advantage,'” he said. “Firms that understand how to drive financial return for Fortune 100 clients.”

Being able to measure and remain accountable for that return, Nadal said, can only grow in importance.

“The days of just brand awareness being a mark of success are over,” he said.

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