First: bloody well done to the team behind one of the best digital agencies in London. Professionally and personally, I can think of few agency managements - digital or otherwise - that deserve to make such a mint. Dare's work, creatively and strategically, is consistently great, and they're an extremely decent, likeable bunch of people.
Second: why Cossette? Dare came close enough to selling to Publicis to sniff the money, and has surely been wooed by most of the big holding companies. No doubt Cossette is a suitor that will allow the agency an attractively high degree of autonomy, but my suspicion is that's because Cossette has no clear strategy for its UK group model, with more money than vision.
Cossette's stated ambition is to create "convergent communication" with its agencies working together on campaigns. There's little evidence of that here yet, but then Cossette's UK assets have been limited. Will Dare now be plugged into Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy, in which Cossette has a 51 per cent stake? Will we see a new emerging group force in London? Cossette has a lot of marketing to do if this is the intention.
And my third thought: what a wasted opportunity for some of the struggling "traditional" agencies desperately skimming the talent scuff from the usual management pool and worrying about how to convincingly tackle digital. Acquiring Dare (and leaving aside, for the moment, conflict issues and the small matter of cost) would have solved several big agencies' long-term problems.
Dare's management team is fairly unique in the digital sector: it could play convincingly against the established agencies' teams, having a depth of experience and wisdom that a great many of its digital competitors are only now slowly beginning to attain. Could I see them parachuted in to run a traditional agency and inject digital into its DNA? Absolutely. But I wonder if Dare's experience with its Bartle Bogle Hegarty shareholder has strengthened its resolve to not merge with a traditional agency.
Anyway, if the Cossette deal goes through smoothly (as seems almost certain), there will be some tangible relief from those big agency groups scrambling for integration (Publicis, DDB, TBWA), that at least Dare has not fallen to a clear rival.
As well as some autonomy, Dare, of course, gets access to Cossette's coffers, an interesting if local group of sister companies and, not least, money in its founders' pockets. Dare is the last great independent digital creative agency. The gold rush is drawing to a close. Time, then, for a new wave of digital start-ups.
The irrepressible, sometimes irritating, but always interesting Robin Wight makes some good points in his piece this week on integration. Robin being Robin, there's a shameless plug or three for his Engine Group. And let's not question how he manages to be smug both about his "delightful Club Class seat" and "flashing a bus pass on my planet-saving commute".
Wight talks of the danger that integration becomes "communication mongrel-ness" and he's right, if integration is achieved entirely within a single group; the chances of sibling agencies all being best-in-class are, obviously, slim (though no doubt Engine would argue otherwise).
But let's be honest. How many clients recognise, fight and pay for the best agency in each discipline to work on their business? Most would be more than happy to have an integrated solution that simplifies the process, elicits good (if not excellent) ideas that work across channels and, crucially, reduces fees. All of which is, surely, what really makes handing all your communication needs over to a single, integrated group proposition so attractive. And worth putting up with a bit of creative mongrel-ness for.