Crispin Porter & Bogusky's decision to partner with Maxxcom was driven by a need for capital and a desire to play a significant role in the Cana dian network's growth, sources said.
"It was important to be part of an organization at the beginning of its life cycle rather than the end," said Chuck Porter, chairman of the Miami agency. "If we'd done a deal with one of the big networks, I doubt their No. 1 priority would be to grow our brand."
Maxxcom, an agency holding company owned by diversified Toronto-based conglomerate MDC Communications, has agreed to purchase a 49 percent stake in CP&B.
The deal, which was initiated at last year's 4A's conference in Bermuda, is still being finalized.
Sources peg the purchase price at $10-20 million in cash and stock; the price is tied to CP&B's performance. As part of the arrangement, negotiated with MDC chairman Miles Nadal and Maxxcom chief executive Beverly Morden, Maxxcom has a buyout option after five years.
CP&B has consistently received kudos for its advertising (particularly its antismoking campaigns for the American Legacy Foundation), but was hamstrung by its lack of support services. Being a runner-up in the recent L.L. Bean and Land Rover pitches drove that point home, according to Porter.
"Over time, this agency can have much larger brands," said Por ter. "We were looking for a shortcut. The most obvious and efficient one is to get someone to invest."
Porter and partner Alex Bogusky had explored the option of joining Omnicom or Publicis but "the reality is they don't really need us," Porter said. "With Maxx com, we'll be able to help establish a strategy and a vision."
On CP&B's wish list is opening a second office and beefing up its media buying and account planning.
MDC's agency properties include Margeotes|Fertitta + Partners in New York, Colle & McVoy in Minneapolis and Source Marketing in Westport, Conn. Its parent owns an array of printing companies and promotions, direct response and interactive shops.