Independent US agency MWW buys way into UK market

MWW, a US-based multidisciplinary agency with McDonald's on its client list, is aiming to become a "dominant mid-size agency" in the UK with the acquisition of London-based Parys Communications.

Michael Kempner: Expanding MWW internationally
Michael Kempner: Expanding MWW internationally

MWW is among the top five independent agencies in the US and offers a mix of media relations, consumer marketing and PR, corporate communications, public affairs and investor relations services. Its other clients include Nikon and Subaru.

Parys is its first acquisition and the first step in an international expansion programme that MWW founder and majority shareholder Michael Kempner said would involve opening at least three to four offices by the end of 2014.

Parys, which was launched in 2004 and will be rebranded as MWW, handles corporate, consumer and b2b campaigns for clients including Four Seasons Healthcare, News UK, BBC, Three UK and Level 3.

Kempner, a longtime Democratic fundraiser, said Parys’ "entrepreneurial, aggressive and nice" culture as a "challenger brand" matched that of his agency.

Payment is in a mix of cash and MWW shares to Parys directors Patrick Herridge, Rebecca Blinston-Jones, Anthony D’Alton and Robert Mitchell. The amount was not disclosed.

Herridge, the founder and MD, will remain in charge as UK MD of MWW and all eight Parys employees will remain with the agency.

"I’m not here to reinvent Parys, I’m here to help it expand throughout the UK," said Kempner.

"Our first goal is to provide UK services to a number of MWW clients and then work with the team to expand rapidly but smartly in London – it’s our goal to be one of the dominant mid size agencies in the UK."

Kempner pointed to London as "the capital of Europe" and a strong location from which to oversee further expansion.

This is set to include additional offices by the end of Q1 next year, with "two or three" more added over 2014.

He added: "We’re currently looking at several major cities in Europe, with the objective to roll out there first. However, that may change, and we’re also looking at cities in Asia and the Middle East."

MWW was sold to the Interpublic Group, the owner of Weber Shandwick, in 2000 before being bought back as an independent agency at the end of 2010.

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