MSQ acquires digital marketing agency MBA

MBA will merge with an existing MSQ agency Stack.

MBAstack (from left): Maher, Nimmo and Middlehurst
MBAstack (from left): Maher, Nimmo and Middlehurst

MSQ has acquired digital marketing agency MBA and merged it with its customer acquisition and engagement shop, Stack. Financial terms for the deal were undisclosed. 

The combined offering, called MBAstack, will be led by the founder of MBA, Stephen Maher, who becomes the chairman and chief executive.

Nicola Nimmo, managing director of Stack, will be MD of the merged outfit and James Middlehurst, managing partner of MBA, will be managing partner. Both will report to Maher.

The new agency has 50 employees comprising an equal split of MBA and Stack staff, with no redundancies¨ foreseen. Operating as a larger entity will provide "more bench strength and firepower". 

The management teams will remain unaltered. This includes Jack Gallon, creative director at MBA, and John Lenny, executive creative director at Stack, who will be joint ECDs. 

Rob Goodwin, who joined MSQ in 2020 in the newly created role of chief data officer, will work closely with MBAstack to ensure that cutting-edge data capabilities sit at the heart of the agency's offer.

The combined client list includes PSA Groupe (Peugeot, Citroën, DS), Royal Mail, HM Government, Interflora, Chiltern Railways, Innovate UK, Church & Dwight and Everest.

MBAstack will work with clients to deliver a blend of "informed imagination" through a collective approach that reflects the ecommerce-driven world.

Maher told Campaign: "There's a real place for us as MBAstack in the changing marketing services landscape, where we can offer our clients that brilliant combination of the best of data, the best of tech and the best of creativity, but via a very nimble entrepreneurial style of approach. This approach is a differentiator and gives us an opportunity against other businesses."

The agency will be based at MSQ's new London HQ in Covent Garden, with MBA pulling out of its Shoreditch office, which has been out of use due to the pandemic. MBAstack aims to move into the Covent Garden space in June.

Kate Howe, executive director of MSQ, said the group was "dedicated to building emotional capital for brands, driving stronger relationships with customers at every point in the journey.

"That's why having a scaled agency that can successfully combine first-party data, martech and comms expertise is so important. MBA bring a shared passion and perspective that makes them a perfect fit for us and in MBAstack we've created a business that builds nicely on both agency's previous success."

MBA, formerly Maher Bird Associates, was founded by Maher in 1994 and has operated as an independent agency for 27 years. Maher believes the acquisition will enable an enhanced global reach for the agency.

He added: "As MBA we've never been a monolithic organisation, but we've always had global business, and we will continue that. In many ways, I see more opportunity ahead because MSQ is a very successful global operation that has great capabilities in the US and in Singapore. So we will see even more global opportunities as well."

In March, MSQ launched MSQ B2B, an agency model providing end-to-end creative, tech and data-led marketing capabilities for B2B clients globally. It will draw resources and expertise from across MSQ's agencies, which include Walk-In Media, The Gate and Twentysix.

In September 2020 MSQ bought the marketing communications group Be Heard Partnership. The deal brought MMT Digital, Freemavens and agenda21 into the group, boosting MSQ's overall tech and insight capabilities.

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