MDC Partners merges KWT Global, HL Group

KWT’s Aaron Kwittken will be global CEO of the combined shop.

Aaron Kwittken, cofounder and CEO of KWT Global (Photo credit: KWT Global)
Aaron Kwittken, cofounder and CEO of KWT Global (Photo credit: KWT Global)

NEW YORK: MDC Partners is merging KWT Global and HL Group.

The two agencies' leadership and operations will be combined on June 1, though they will operate with their individual brands and P&Ls through the end of the year. 

Aaron Kwittken, cofounder and CEO of KWT Global, will be global CEO of the combined firm. KWT cofounder and president Gabrielle Zucker will be president of the combined agency, continuing to report to Kwittken.

HL Group cofounder and CEO Lynn Tesoro will assume the title of founding partner of HL Group and will continue to work with the agency’s consumer and lifestyle clients. 

Kwittken declined to disclose the size of the combined firm by revenue. “MDC does not disclose the revenues of specific agencies,” he said. “What I can say is the New York staff will be doubled together, which is nice.”

KWT is headquartered in New York with offices in London and Toronto, while HL is also based in New York City with an office in Los Angeles. Kwittken said no employees will be laid off, and HL’s New York staffers will move into KWT’s office by the end of the year. 

The combined firm’s client list will include Deloitte, American Express Global Business Travel, Netjets, Blink Fitness, Ironman, Ricoh, PayPal, L’Oreal, Sprint and Teva, KWT said in a statement. 

Kwittken said the idea of combining the firms came about in January, after MDC chairman and CEO Mark Penn implemented a network strategy bringing together U.S. creative shop Doner with six other MDC agencies in North America, including KWT and HL Group.

“Lynn and I got to know each other much better,” Kwittken said. The idea of a merger really bloomed after a January strategy meeting, when it became obvious that it made sense to join forces, he added. 

HL’s strength in consumer, lifestyle, luxury, fashion and beauty, Kwittken said, “maps well against KWT’s expertise in corporate reputation management and design and digital brand strategy.”

“This does open a huge opportunity for us,” Tesoro said. “We might be perceived by certain clients and companies to have expertise in certain areas. We’ve always had a corporate reputation group, but it was small. The merger gives us an opportunity to expand that, and it also gives us a bigger footprint. For us, London is a very important market.” 

Penn said in an emailed statement: “It’s precisely this kind of unified complementary offering that stands to bring clients the enhanced solutions and creativity they need to thrive.” 

He declined to say if the holding company has other mergers planned.

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