Six months after MDC Partners retired the KBS brand and folded it into Forsman & Bodenfors, the global creative agency has appointed a CEO in New York, promoting Mike Densmore from his previous role as president.
As CEO, Densmore will be tasked with expanding the agency’s client portfolio and promoting its collaborative approach internally and with clients.
“Mike’s relentless commitment to world-class creative work and to our people is unparalleled. He is a strong leader and really nice at the same time, which is why we love him,” Forsman & Bodenfors global executive chairman and copywriter Anna Qvennerstedt said in a statement. “The way he is shaping the New York office’s culture and his exceptional ability to juggle business, crazy ideas and human beings are what make him the perfect fit for leading F&B into the future.”
What was then KBS New York hired Densmore as president September of 2017. That was after Densmore spent nearly four years as BBH’s first global chief growth officer, leading the additions of clients including Netflix, Amazon, Nest and Hello Fresh to the agency’s roster. Before that, he served as CMO for McKinney and head of business development for Droga5.
Densmore described the merging of Forsman & Bodenfors and KBS as “a natural fit.” He explained that when MDC Partners first asked KBS to meet with Forsman & Bodenfors, the two 32-year-old agencies spent three days “discussing what we could be if we joined forces” and found they shared similar principles, including a collaborative approach and focus on inclusivity, and that the two agencies had complimentary offerings. The discussions led to “a quick and clear understanding of what our potential could be,” he said, adding that the merging of the two MDC Partners entities was so smooth that it didn’t result in any redundancies in clients or talent—and thus, no cuts or resigned clients.
Last year, the agency now known as Forsman & Bodenfors New York picked up new clients including Hyatt, Diageo (Seagrams 7), Victoria’s Secret and iRobot. Densmore claimed that Forsman & Bodenfors New York has recently won two new accounts which it can’t yet reveal. He also mentioned that the agency currently working on its integrated summer campaign for Seagrams 7.
“Our focus is to do excellent creative work that’s going to compete with the best agencies in the world,” Densmore told Adweek. “That’s really our singular focus for this year.”
Densmore said he’s proudest of the way the agency’s creative and strategy teams collaborate closely on projects in a “linear process.”
“We develop strategy together, and when that strategy is being developed, we start to think of initial creative ideas that can really exemplify and show what the strategy can turn into from a creative standpoint,” he explained. “We always, with our clients, present strategy and creative together.”
He also outlined a process called “The Floor” in which agency talent outside of a project is invited to contribute ideas and bring in fresh perspectives.
Densmore said the agency’s top objective is to “take diversity and inclusion seriously to a point where we’re actually effecting change not only at our agency, but also in the industry as a whole.”
“Being 3% certified is just a start for us,” he added, revealing that the agency is introducing a digital tool called Circle next month, which helps agency producers find underrepresented talent from across different production disciplines. Forsman & Bodenfors head of production Madison Wharton led the initiative.
“We’re really proud of our values, but we don’t think it should be just about F&B,” Densmore said. “We think that should be an industry-wide effort.”
He also cited the agency’s talent department, bias training, “Courageous Conversation” outside speaker series and equal pay pledge.
“There’s no pay gap here at F&B New York,” he claimed.
Densmore’s promotion follows Stagwell Group agreeing to a $100 million investment in MDC Partners last week and Mark Penn taking over as CEO of the holding company.
“I look forward to seeing what Mark’s going to do when it comes to bolstering MDC’s vision, the solutions and the services that MDC provides” Densmore said, “but my focus and my energy is really on F&B New York and I’m especially excited to take us and our clients to new heights.”