Cummins & Partners buys New York creative agency dc3 as it pushes for scale in the US

Sean Cummins at the 2015 National Radio Conference

Sean Cummins at the 2015 National Radio Conference

Australian-based full-service agency group Cummins & Partners has continued its push for global scale by buying New York-based creative agency dc3.

The move sees dc3 founder Todd Irwin become a partner and chief creative officer of the agency, which was launched 18-months ago by Sean Cummins. Chief strategist chief strategist Arwa Mahdawi on the agency’s partnership team.

He told Mumbrella: “To compete with the big box agencies here you need scale. That’s  the reality here. New York advertising is mythologised a bit too much. You need money and courage.  Even shops like Leo Burnett  closed down in New York.

“You need patience and a sense of humour. And Australia should feel proud of the standard of advertising they produce.  It is world-class.

“I am enjoying the struggle of building an independent with people like [chief strategist] Arwa Mahdawi a former WPP fellow and brilliant strategic thinker, now Todd a no-nonsense tough Brooklyn boy.  We make quite a trio.”

dc3 clients include Nikon, Mountain Dew and Verizon.

Last month Mumbrella revealed former tennis superstars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf had bought into the North American agency, which includes a Toronto office, as 15 per cent partners.

Speaking to Mumbrella Cummins explained the differences in setting up a US operation.

“Americans are very narrow [in their specialisms] but deep and Australians are more broad,” he said. “Over there it’s about being a specialist – you’re a travel and tourism agency, or a pharma agency. We’re going and having conversations and they say ‘well what’s your specialty?’ and we say we’re from Australia we kind of do everything. It’s been interesting.

“It’s a harder sell. They can’t understand how you can know about the whole universe that is the category, and I think it’s almost the great shortcoming of it all not to have cross pollination of ideas. You only have to look at their football they’ve got a guy comes on and all he does is kick the ball and then runs off.

“I think in Australia we’re a little more capable and Australians are doing so well over there – the market is geared towards the big box agencies, and having been there for 18 months my next push is to create scale. Whether I do that with investment rounds, whether I do it organically or acquire other businesses is yet to be decided.”

In that interview Cummins also indicated he was set to launch a London office in the next few months, to complement its Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney operations.

The New York operation was responsible for creating a music video to promote Heidi Klum’s new lingerie range for Bendon with the supermodel starring in the music video for Sia’s Fire Meets Gasoline.


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