By Allison Weissbrot, Campaign
The former McCann Worldgroup chief growth officer joins F&B to drive global expansion.
MDC Partners creative agency Forsman & Bodenfors has brought on Toby Southgate as global CEO, the company said Monday.
Southgate joins from McCann Worldgroup, where he was chief growth officer and regional director, and chief client officer in Europe and the UK. Prior to that, he was CEO of WPP brand consultancy Brand Union, which has since become part of the Superunion roll-up.
Southgate replaces Guy Hayward, who was the global CEO of KBS before the company merged with Forsman & Bodenfors in 2018.
Alongside chairwoman and copywriter Anna Qvennerstedt, Southgate will lead Forsman & Bodenfors’ continued global expansion. Since being acquired by MDC Partners in 2016, and following its merger with KBS, F&B has expanded from its roots in Sweden to seven global offices in Gothenburg, New York, Stockholm, Toronto, Montreal, Shanghai and Singapore.
For Southgate, growth will be less about putting more “dots on maps” and more about putting together “the right capabilities in the right relationships,” he told Campaign US.
“I see a lot of potential in unleashing capabilities and skills that might sit in one office,” he said. “There’s an interesting opportunity to unleash the talent inside the business.”
As F&B continues to work with global clients, such as Volvo, Procter & Gamble, Google, Goldman Sachs, Diageo, LG and General Mills, pulling different skill sets from across regions to fulfill global needs will be key. The agency is able to pull this off thanks to its non-hierarchical structure, in which account teams are autonomous and only report to each other.
“We have strengths in every single office, but when cherry pick a team for a global client from more than one office, it becomes really powerful,” Qvennerstedt said.
The cross-border team collaboration is also exciting for employees, who can learn and gain skills from different regions, Southgate added. “We’ve all adjusted the way we’ve been working, and have realized that the geographic borders are less important.”
Southgate joins F&B amid an international push for parent MDC Partners, which recently launched a global affiliate network to grow its business across the globe. As the international creative agency within the network, F&B has a big opportunity to grow along with MDC’s international presence.
“There’s something nice about the scale, direction and focus that F&B has, and also the moment in time that this is for MDC,” Southgate said. “The holding company has a direction, a vision and an opportunity that it’s been working towards for a decade or so that represents something different and interesting for the next period.”