How This Independent Agency Is Starting Its Aggressive Global Expansion Plan

Cummins & Partners buys dc3

Global independent ad agency Cummins & Partners today announced it has acquired Brooklyn, N.Y.-based creative agency dc3. The acquisition is part of the agency's strategy to expand its global brand after officially opening in New York, and subsequently Toronto, about six months ago.

As part of the deal, creative veteran Todd Irwin, who founded dc3—which he described as an "edgy" boutique shop—in 2009, was named partner and chief creative officer at Cummins & Partners. He joins founder and global CEO Sean Cummins and chief strategist Arwa Mahdawi on the agency's partnership team.

Cummins, who founded Cummins & Partners in Australia in 2011, came to the U.S. in June 2014 to lay the groundwork for opening the New York office. He said that in looking for small agencies to acquire over the past six months, "it wasn't just the businesses that mattered, it was the quality of the people." He called Irwin "an outstanding creative talent and a great businessman."

Irwin, who has produced work for brands including Verizon, Nikon, Coca-Cola and Remy Martin, told Adweek he was "looking to scale" when he happened to meet Cummins.

"And it was great timing because I was looking for an agency that was global and was creatively led. And Sean's a great creative; he's a great writer," Irwin said. "I had gone up against a bunch of the more known agencies and won business from a creative standpoint. But getting to the bigger stuff was always difficult because I was so small, so scale was really important to me."

Cummins is no stranger to "the bigger stuff." Cummins & Partners has grown to become one of the top independents in Australia, earning Independent Agency of the Year honors at the 2015 Mumbrella Awards. The agency has worked with brands including Nike, Jeep, Fiat Chrysler and Vodafone in Australia. Its early U.S. work includes a music video featuring Heidi Klum for Sia's "Fire Meet Gasoline" made for the launch of Klum's lingerie line, Heidi Klum Intimates. (Watch it below.)

Cummins is also the founder of CumminsNitro, which would ultimately become SapientNitro after its sale to Sapient in 2009. CumminsNitro won three Grand Prix (Direct, PR and Cyber) at Cannes in 2009 for the Tourism Queensland campaign "The Best Job in the World."

Cummins declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal to buy dc3, but he said to expect more acquisitions in the U.S. soon.

"Scale wins here—it's sad, but it's true," he said. "And we're looking to pal up with other people who have commensurate and complementary skills. That means we will be talking about digital chops in the very near future. It means we'll be talking about a complementary media company acquisition as well. We're really doing it with the intention of creating this sort of supergroup, a one-stop shop that we both believe is the future of advertising."