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MSQ expands US operations – here’s what you need to know

MSQ is expanding its proposition in the United States

Global marketing group MSQ has announced an ambitious expansion into the US, fueled by a series of key hires set to supplement its current foothold.

Chief executive Peter Reid talked The Drum through the company’s plan to break America.

What’s the plan?

  • Although MSQ already has a US presence via The Gate and Stein IAS, it’s expanding its operations in a major way, introducing three further agencies to the market.

  • Reid said face-to-face meetings and local knowledge of the market are still essential for growth: “You don’t need people everywhere in the world to run an international campaign, but you can’t do everything from one country. We’re looking to build hubs [in the US, UK and Asia] ... you definitely need people on the ground for strategic reasons, breadth of opinion, closeness to the culture and practical reasons [like timezones]. It’s about understanding the local market and the local clients.“

  • MSQ can offer American clients something network agencies and US indies can’t, said Reid. “The US is the biggest marketing market in the entire world. There aren’t many people offering alternatives to the network solutions. We think, over time, the MSQ model – putting together a team of specialists designed around the client’s needs – is going to be hugely attractive.

  • “MSQ has been growing rapidly, and evolving our multi-disciplinary proposition on an international level is the key next step in our journey. We have an agile, accessible model that offers clients world-class creative and strategic thinking on a global and local level, and by creating these new roles – and bringing in such leading industry talent to fill them – we’re confident that our proven joined-up model will thrive in the US market.“

  • Following a spending spree for MSQ earlier this year, Reid didn’t rule out further buys in the US. “We’re very much about growing sensibly and steadily. Acquisitions are an option. Having done BeHeard and MBA ... we’ve got the potential to do more and we will do more, when they’re the right ones.“

Who’s been hired?

  • Aaron Lang has been hired as MSQ’s first president of North America. He’s joined MSQ from his post as managing director of Deloitte Digital’s advertising, marketing and commerce group, and will report directly to Reid.

  • Justin Cox has been appointed as chief strategy officer, North America. Cox also joins from Deloitte, where he was CSO at agency Heat; Mike DaRe and Sheila Hozhabri have been hired to bring cultural comms and PR agency Smarts to North American markets; Susan Levy has joined as general manager, with a brief to to relaunch branding agency Holmes & Marchant New York; and Nancy Aresu has been appointed as the president of creative and media agency The Gate New York.

  • Reid told The Drum that the group aimed to staff up in other areas, filling 25-30 positions in the US over the next year. “We’re looking to scale rapidly in the US ... in the next 12-18 months. We see this as the start of something. We’ve still got a lot of growth and headroom in the US.“

  • Those positions needn’t be based in advertising hotspots, he said: “Offices are really important, but you don’t need to operate in the same way we did previously.

  • “We’re trying to make the most of Covid, in that we have a much more fluid west coast-east coast model. The team doesn’t just need to be in New York or San Francisco; if we get the right people we can build them into the team from all over the US.“

  • Lang said: “Too often clients either end up getting entangled in big holding companies or are unable to access the integrated capabilities they need from individual agencies. MSQ is able to offer a unique multi-disciplinary approach and I look forward to working with the talented new leadership team to bring that approach to life.”

  • MSQ recently announced revenues of $132m for the financial year ending February 2021, with gross profit increasing by 20% in the first two months of the new financial year.

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