AdAge: Account Action

Advertising Age - Agency News
Advertising Age - Agency News
Ad, media, direct, PR and promotions agency news: Need-to-know account shifts, personnel moves, and best ideas and campaigns to come out of the agency business.

A Dog Brings Out the Best in George Washington in Pedigree's Moving Film

Mars Petcare brand Pedigree's "Feed the Good" campaign is now digging into history to show how dogs bring out the best in people. A moving film from BBDO New York and directed by Biscuit Filmworks' Noam Murro recreates an obscure U.S. war story from 1777 when General George Washington and his troops were in the throes of the Revolutionary War against British Forces Commander-in-Chief William Howe and his soldiers. Amid the fighting, a terrier made its way into Washington's camp, and the dog's collar identified it as belonging to General Howe. Although Washington's soldiers had plenty of their own ideas on what to do with the pup, Washington, a dog lover himself, graciously returned it to his enemy.

The new ad "directly reflects the core of our Feed the Good campaign, which is that universal truth that dogs bring out the good in us, and that our job at Pedigree is to bring out the good in them," said Craig Neely, VP-marketing for Mars Petcare. "This has been such a great platform for us to bring a variety of diverse creative to life. The story shows that the universal truth that I mentioned is just as true today as it was more than 200 years ago during the Revolutionary War."

According to Neely, the media plan is still being finalized, but it now focuses on digital with a broader roll out this summer.

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IPG's Michael Roth Is Not Concerned About New Entrants Into Advertising

During the company's first-quarter earnings call Friday, Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth said "increased competition" from adjacent industries is "not as evident to us as the headlines would have you believe."

Traditional consultancies, like Accenture and Deloitte, as well as tech companies like IBM and Facebook, have been increasingly pushing into the advertising business. Roth said the holding company is "not seeing them in a big way," but when it does face them in digital pitches, IPG agencies "do pretty well against them."

"Our integrated offering and creative firepower is something at this point that gives us a strong advantage over those system integrators," he said. "Innovative thinking, our ability to reach across all agencies at IPG and strong creative talent coupled with our media side of the business is something that other providers don't have."

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Lvy Would Rather Shine Shoes Than Retire From Publicis Groupe

Maurice Lvy, the outgoing chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, is so keen to stay involved in the company that he has offered to shine the shoes of the management board.

"I'm not totally retiring," he told analysts at his final earnings presentation in Paris this morning. "I'm not even semi-retiring."

On June 1, Lvy will hand over the chairman and CEO roles at the agency holding giant to Arthur Sadoun, currently CEO of Publicis Communications, and take on a new role as chairman of Publicis Groupe's supervisory board.

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MediaLink's European Invasion Starts in London Under Wenda Harris Millard

MediaLink's recent sale to Cannes Lions parent company Ascential is quickly paying off for the media consultancy. MediaLink plans to open its first U.K. office in London next month under the leadership of Vice Chair Wenda Harris Millard.

Millard, who will retain her current title, will relocate from New York to London to oversee MediaLink's budding European operation. The new office will open mid-May and Caitlin Kelly, MediaLink's corporate communications VP, will join Millard in London as her chief of staff.

"We have so many different opportunities to help major brands, publishers, including heritage brands and emerging content companies, and ad tech, martech and sheer technology companies," said Millard. "Now we just need to identify them [in London]."

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Boost Mobile and 180LA Win Campaign of the Year in Ad Age's First Creativity Awards

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Four Things to Expect From Maurice Levy's Last Earnings Call on Thursday

After 30 years as chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, Maurice Lvy will announce his last set of earnings on Thursday at the French holding company's presentation of first-quarter 2017 results in Paris. Here's what to expect:

1. It's Lvy's swan song, and it may be a long one. The voluble Frenchman, who hands over to successor Arthur Sadoun at the annual general meeting in Paris on May 31, is well-known for his lengthy exchanges with analysts. Earnings calls routinely go on for a couple of hours.

2. Don't expect great numbers. With fairly weak results predicted, he may not be going out on a business high. At least the numbers won't come as a surprise: Lvy warned in February that the first quarter of this year would not offer much improvement on the fourth quarter of 2016, when revenues were down 2.5%.

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Publicis Groupe Creates Country President Role, Starting in France

In the latest step in an ongoing restructuring, Publicis Groupe is creating a country president role, starting with France, where Agathe Bousquet joins from rival Havas to lead all four Publicis divisions.

Ms. Bousquet, who is currently chair and CEO of Havas Worldwide Paris, will take on the newly-created position of president of Publicis Groupe in France, leading Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient and Publicis Health in that country. (The four global divisions were created in late 2015. Publicis Communications, for instance, includes the creative agency networks like Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett and Publicis, and is headed by Arthur Sadoun).

More countries are set to follow. Ms. Bousquet starts on Sept. 1, and once she has established a method of working across the French operations, Publicis Groupe hopes to appoint other executives to take on the position of president in other markets.

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Wingstop Wonders Whether It's Time for a New Creative Agency

Wingstop appears to be looking for a new creative agency, Ad Age has learned.

The apparent search for a creative agency comes months after the chicken wing chain picked Starcom USA as its first national media agency of record.

"While I can't speak specifically to the rumors, I will tell you that we're constantly evaluating our agency partners to make sure they are positioned to support our rapidly growing business," Chief Marketing Officer Flynn Dekker said in an email, adding that sometimes the chain looks for agencies for projects and other times "for longer-term strategic initiatives."

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Listen to the New 'Tagline' Podcast With Melissa Etheridge

Artist and activist Melissa Etheridge joined the latest episode of Ad Age and iHeartMedia's "Tagline" podcast series to talk about collaboration, mashups and creativity.

Etheridge was joined by host and Publicis Media President of Global Innovation Adam Shlachter, Visa Chief Brand and Innovation Officer Chris Curtin and JinglePunks President and Chief Creative Officer Jared Gutstadt, not to mention the mixologist Brian Floyd, courtesy of "Tagline" sponsor Bulleit Frontier Whisky.

Here's a taste:

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Sparkles, Sneakers, Chiffon: What 'Creative Black Tie' Means to Adland

Awards season is upon us, and along with it comes the annual stress of how to dress. The phrase "creative black tie" is in vogue, and while it may seem like an oxymoron, in the advertising industry it presents an opportunity to get expressive within a set of constraints. It's a delightfully vague prescription, one just as likely to inspire flashy feathers as clunky cummerbunds.

Ad Age canvassed advertising executives to find out what creative black tie means for them. Their answers run the gamut from staid to slayed:

Rob Reilly, global creative chairman, McCann Worldgroup: "I don't believe in creative black tie. There is black tie and then there is creative dress up. I personally hate seeing a nicely tailored tuxedo with sneakers. It defeats the purpose."

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Tile, the Company That Helps You Not Lose Stuff, Hires Deutsch Amid Major Marketing Push

Tile, the company behind Bluetooth-enabled products that help people find lost items, has hired Deutsch as its first agency of record as the business looks to significantly ramp up its marketing efforts.

The brand, which garnered $100 million in revenue in 2016, plans to double its marketing investment in the 2018 fiscal year. Tile CMO Simon Fleming-Wood, who joined the company four months ago after serving as the marketing chief at Pandora, said the marketing investment is "tens of millions of dollars."

Right before Fleming-Wood left Pandora, he said he had gone through a big agency review and hired Deutsch, but he left before the relationship began. When he joined Tile, he said he needed an agency partner to help on a three-month brand strategy project, so he brought on Deutsch, which wound up being sort of a "single-agency pitch" for the AOR assignment.

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Ashley HomeStore Taps Empower for Media Strategy, Planning

Furniture retailer Ashley HomeStore has selected Empower MediaMarketing for media planning and strategy. Icon International continues to handle media buying.

Empower, an independent Cincinnati, Ohio-based agency whose clients include Famous Footwear and Gorilla Glue, will work with Ashley HomeStore on media strategy and planning across all markets. HomeStore has 700 mostly licensee-owned locations across 36 countries.

The incumbent was McCann Minneapolis. Empower CEO Jim Price said the furniture retailer takes a granular approach to media in each market, which made the two companies a natural fit. "That's kind of been in our history, our DNA... no cookie-cutter plans, no cookie-cutter buys, everything is very customized," he said. He added the companies fit well together culturally since both Empower and Ashley HomeStore are family-owned.

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Burnett's Andrew Swinand: Race Is On for Shops to Beat Consultants

Leo Burnett has launched The Core, a new offering that brings together the group's existing data, analytics, research, CRM and search technology capabilities with the goal of creating more personalized content for clients.

The Core, which will serve as a resource for the entire Leo Burnett Group, including Leo Burnett, Arc and Rokkan, is being led by John Lowell, former VP-product strategy at Uptake. Mr. Lowell previously co-founded Ardent with Andrew Swinand, who joined Leo Burnett North America as CEO earlier this year. Upon Mr. Swinand's appointment, Burnett acquired Ardent and The Abundancy, two digital shops from the portfolio of Abundant Venture Partners, an accelerator network of startups and tech firms that Mr. Swinand began when he left SMG in 2011.

Ad Age discussed with Mr. Swinand exactly "The Core" is and why he believes it can provide a competitive advantage for the Leo Burnett Group in going up against other agencies and consultancies.

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U.S. Hispanic Shops Are Big Winners at Wave Festival for Latin America in Rio

U.S. agencies Alma and We Believers were the second and third most-awarded agencies at the Wave Festival for Latin America held last week in Rio de Janeiro. (The perennial No. 1 is Brazilian shop Almap BBDO).

That's the best performance yet at the Wave for the U.S. Hispanic market, and includes a Grand Prix in the Design category for We Believers' "Edible Six-Pack Rings" work that won four Lions at the last Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The agency re-thought the plastic rings that hold together six-packs of beer and are often discarded in the ocean where they harm wildlife, by making them biodegradable and safe to eat. (The Wave Festival is organized by Ad Age's partner in Brazil, Grupo Meio e Mensagem).

Besides the Grand Prix, "Edible Six-Pack Rings" picked up two gold awards in the Promo category and two bronze awards in PR and the environmentally-friendly Green Wave category.

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Heineken USA Picks Mexican Agency to Lead Tecate in U.S.

Heineken USA imports Tecate from Mexico -- and now the brand's ad ideas will come from south of the border, too.

The marketer has shifted U.S. creative duties on Tecate to a Mexican-based agency, spelling the end of the beer marketer's relationship with Saatchi & Saatchi New York. The brew's new shop is Nomades, which was founded in Mexico and Argentina in 2013 by Pablo Batlle, an Argentine creative and DDB veteran. A Heineken USA spokesman confirmed the agency would handle Tecate from its Mexico City office.

It is unusual for a U.S.-sold brand to be led from an ad agency office outside of the states -- but one that the Mexican imported brew has tried before. Tecate in 2012 handed U.S. ad responsibilities to Mexico City-based Olabuenaga Chemistri, which at the time had been handling the brew's Mexican advertising. But the experiment ended 14 months later when Heineken moved the account back to the U.S., tapping Inspire, Dallas, to oversee English-language campaigns. (The Olabuenaga Chemistri agency no longer exists, following a merger with Leo Burnett in Mexico in April 2015 after Ana Maria Olabuenaga retired from the agency she founded.)

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The News Literacy Project, JWT Team Up to Combat Fake News

The initiative, dubbed #SeeAlltheAngles, will run for six months online and in print across outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, AOL and the Miami Herald. All media, which was selected from a nonpartisan perspective, was donated by Kargo and other JWT media partners. The ads showcase headlines such as "See All the Angles," "Get a New Perspective," and "Question Everything" displayed in the new typeface.

As part of the pro bono effort, JWT also helped the nonprofit create a mobile app called "Headline Maker," which allows journalists, educators and other users to create and share their own headlines using the new font on social media.

In addition to helping people decipher real versus fake news, the campaign will look to raise awareness of The News Literacy Project and its services, such as the checkology virtual classroom e-learning tool, which is currently in use by more than 6,000 teachers in the country and overseas.

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Fair or Not, In-House Agencies Take Heat for Pepsi Gaffe

The Pepsi-Kendall Jenner ad fiasco was barely a few hours old when some people at ad agencies targeted a culprit: Pepsi used an in-house shop, which in the eyes of many led to the marketing mishap.

The criticism was particularly sharp on a Reddit thread dedicated to the ad. "In-house just doesn't cut it, as there are too few people in the chain saying 'no.' Advertisers clearly don't have the self-discipline," a self-described creative from New York stated. "In-house creative directors are jaded, tired old-timers who simply want to get paid and go home."

But the issue is a little more nuanced and complex than that.

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Heineken USA Shifts Digital to Omnicom Shop Red Urban

Heineken USA has consolidated lead digital and social agency duties across its major brands with Omnicom's Red Urban after a review. The agency, which currently operates from Amsterdam and Toronto, will open a New York office to service the account, which includes Heineken, Heineken Light, Dos Equis, Tecate and Strongbow.

Heineken USA had previously used various digital and social shops on its brands, including using some of its creative agencies for digital work. Those agencies included We Are Social, Havas, Publicis, 360i and Nomades, according to a Heineken spokesman.

"We are honored to be chosen to support such a world-class company like Heineken and their portfolio of brands," Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Omnicom Digital, said in a statement. "With Red Urban at the helm, supported by Omnicom digital and social capabilities, we look forward to taking Heineken's consumer-centric strategy to the next level."

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WPP Tumbles as Client Unilever Announces Its Slashing Ad Costs

WPP fell the most in a month after one of the advertising company's biggest clients, consumer-product giant Unilever, said it would cut back on its marketing spending, fueling concerns about a broader ad-industry slowdown.

Unilever, which sells Dove soap and Hellmann's mayonnaise, will produce 30% fewer ads as part of a cost-cutting drive, Chief Financial Officer Graeme Pitkethly said Thursday in a phone interview. WPP, whose Ogilvy & Mather agency makes ads for Dove, dropped as much as 4.4%, the most since March 3.

The blow came as WPP, the world's largest advertising company, was already contending with a slow start to 2017 and a weaker-than-expected growth forecast. Auto sales are sagging and consumer-products companies, in response to slowing growth, are looking for ways to save money on advertising and simplify their commitments. Business with Unilever contributes about 3% of WPP's revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Tattoos, Onesies and Brisket: Adland Super Fans Reveal Their Sports Rituals

The advertising industry is full of interesting characters with big personalities, quirky fashion styles and incredibly creative minds, but you don't hear as much about its many sports super fans. Ad Age discovered just how far some of your peers will go for certain teams or leagues.

Adam Yarnevich, or "Brisket Bob," senior creative services designer, VML

Mr. Yarnevich, better known by Sporting Kansas City fans as "Brisket Bob," has been amping up the crowd with a barbecue ritual since 2011 whenever the soccer team plays the Portland Timbers. It all started because the Timbers' mascot celebrates each goal by firing up a chainsaw and cutting a piece of wood for fans to see and touch, so in response, Mr. Yarnevich and some other fans decided to parody this with barbecue. Mr. Yarnevich said he even throws the slab of meat into the crowd sometimes. "It's definitely always memorable, and it's fun when fans startle me in public by yelling, 'BRISKET!'" he said.

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POLL: Does Pepsi's Kendall Jenner Ad Celebrate a New Generation of Protest, or Just Co-Opt It?

Pepsi is absorbing a barrage of critcism over its new ad showing Kendall Jenner being drawn into a generic peace protest and handing a cop a soda, echoing iconic images from real protests in the process.

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Cuts Aren't Over, But P&G Wants to Restore Agency Profits

After cutting nearly half its agencies and around 30% of its creative and production fees, Procter & Gamble Co. isn't finished yet. But in a speech to the 4A's Transformation conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said the onus will be on P&G to fix its own problems too and even focus on restoring agency profitability.

The speech was part of a trilogy that started with Interactive Advertising Bureau and Association of National Advertisers conferences in January and March respectively. Those focused primarily on problems with digital media. He didn't delve as deeply into that subject this time, though he did, without naming names, weigh in on the brand-safety crisis afflicting Google in recent weeks.

There, he returned to his theme of "head fakes" from digital media players that was the focus of his March ANA speech. "Here's the head fake you might get: 'But you've only had a couple thousand impressions served on objectionable content.' Response: 'That's a couple thousand too many.' We have a zero-tolerance standard when it comes to brand safety," Mr. Pritchard said on Tuesday. "Our brands are protected in other forms of media."

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Cheese Marketer Bel Group Picks Mediavest Spark for Media; Drops OMD

Bel Group, the French marketer behind cheese brands including Boursin, Laughing Cow and Mini Babybel, named Mediavest Spark as its media agency across 20 markets including the United States.

Mediavest Spark grabbed the business that was previously handled by Omnicom's OMD.

Publicis Groupe's Mediavest Spark is primarily overseeing the account from Paris, with other offices pitching in, including Chicago for the U.S. work.

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Barbarian Group Taps Cathy Butler as CEO Following Tumultuous Year

Cheil Worldwide's The Barbarian Group has hired DigitasLBI's Cathy Butler as CEO, effective immediately, following a string of executive departures and changes over the last year.

Ms. Butler is taking the position from Aaron Lau, who assumed the role of interim CEO last September after former chief executive Peter Kim left the agency. Mr. Kim succeeded previous CEO Sophie Kelly, who stepped down at the end of 2015. Following Ms. Kelly's departure, Chief Creative Officer Edu Pou, head of talent and HR Michele Prota, head of account management Sherri Chambers, Creative Director Jill Applebaum, Chief Technology Officer Robert Christ and co-founders Keith Butters and Benjamin Palmer, among others, left Barbarian.

"We've been looking for this role for quite some time now. It's a very important time, where we've been doing a lot of soul searching and looking at where we take Barbarian into the 21st century given we have a fantastic foundation and culture, and this is a chance to reinvent ourselves," said Mr. Lau, adding that he did more than 200 hours of interview for the CEO position with at least 50 people.

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E-Trade Brings on MullenLowe as Creative, Strategic AOR

E-Trade has appointed MullenLowe as its new creative and strategic AOR, following a competitive review.

The review, which was supported by Hasan & Co., came two years after the digital trading firm hired sibling Interpublic Group agency R/GA to lead the creative business. Representatives from R/GA were not immediately available for comment.

"Our brand is firmly installed in the hearts and minds of consumers," said Lea Stendahl, senior-VP and head of marketing at E-Trade, in a statement. "Yet in an industry defined by fierce competition, it is increasingly difficult to break through the clutter and articulate why we are the clear choice for digitally inclined traders and investors."

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IPG's Michael Roth Throws Shade at Consulting Companies Competing With Ad Shops

In a wide-ranging discussion at the 4A's Transformation conference this morning, Michael Roth, Interpublic Group of Cos. Chairman-CEO, discussed industry hot buttons such as brand safety on YouTube, transparency and measurement issues on digital platorms and the incursion of consulting companies on agencies' turf.

Mr. Roth, who talked about IPG's "open architecture" structure, which gives clients access to all disciplines across its network, said he thinks consulting firms, like Accenture, are trying to get into advertising "because their own business isn't doing particularly well."

He added that while they are already working with the C-suite, the consulting firms aren't going to come up with iconic creative campaigns. "You need special individuals on the creative side, and frankly, I don't see those individuals working at an Accenture," he said.

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Party City Brings on Hill Holliday as Lead Agency

Party City just hired Hill Holliday as its lead agency for creative, digital and media duties following a competitive review, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Zimmerman, which has worked on the Party City business since 2009, competed in the recent pitch. Consulting firm Roth Ryan Hayes supported the review.

"While we are sorry to part ways with Party City, we understand that new management often triggers new agencies," Zimmerman CEO Michael Goldberg said in an emailed statement.

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Hear Tagline Episode 3: Wyclef Jean Talks Creativity, Music and Politics

Wyclef Jean, the Fugees cofounder and former candidate for president of Haiti, joined Ad Age and iHeartMedia at SXSW for the latest episode of the "Tagline" podcast series, sponsored by Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, this time focusing on music and marketing.

With a lively streak of politics.

"You write 'Hips Don't Lie' and after you write this song you go, 'Okay, this one is perhaps the biggest air-played song of all times,'" Wyclef said. "Then you go, 'Well, is this how I want to leave the earth?' I come from this place. I used to ride a donkey and so this is what I want the world to understand about me. So now you're fighting because your agents and everyone's like, 'Yo, dude. Don't go there. You're basically gonna lose it all. Like, do not. Stay away from politics. Don't go.'"

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TJ Maxx, Marshalls Parent TJX Taps Mindshare as Media AOR

TJX Cos., parent to Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post, has hired WPP media agency Mindshare as its media agency of record for all brands in the U.S., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Mindshare, which deferred comment to TJX, is expected to begin working on the off-price brands immediately, including media planning, buying and analytics. Pile & Co. supported the review, Ad Age learned.

"The media industry has changed significantly in recent years and we wanted to ensure that as the landscape evolves, media support for our T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods and Sierra Trading Post chains helps position our businesses for continued growth," said a TJX spokeswoman. "With that goal in mind, TJX has made the decision to place its media account with Mindshare. We are extremely grateful to the media-buying agencies that have served our company well for many years."

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L.L. Bean Brings on the Via Agency as Agency of Record

L.L. Bean has selected The Via Agency as its new agency of record, following a "highly competitive review process that included numerous agencies" across the U.S., according to a company statement.

The brand had previously worked with Erwin Penland since 2014. Representatives from the agency were not immediately available for comment. Last spring, Erwin Penland helped L.L. Bean create a campaign that played up the brand's heritage by shining light on its high-quality, durable goods as an improved alternative to disposable fashion.

For the past year, L.L. Bean has worked with Via on a "comprehensive branding project," in which the brand and agency "realized a synergy and aligned on a common strategic vision," according to a statement from the retailer.

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