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John Hancock, Manulife Launch Global Creative Review

32-Year U.S. Incumbent Hill Holliday Is Not Participating in the Review

By Published on .

John Hancock's 'Choose Your Own Endings'
John Hancock's 'Choose Your Own Endings' 
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Financial services company Manulife, which operates as John Hancock in the U.S., is reviewing its worldwide creative business as it looks to align its brand strategy around consumer needs.

Hill Holliday has worked on the U.S. business for 32 years, having stayed on board through numerous CEO changes at the company, a demutualization and an IPO. Dentsu works on creative for Manulife in international markets like Asia and Canada.

Even though Gretchen Garrigues, who joined Manulife about six months ago as global CMO, said the company is inviting the incumbents to participate in the review, Hill Holliday is opting out.

Karen Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday, said the agency is "deeply proud of the work we have done and the partnership we built with John Hancock" over the years, which has earned industry awards and continues "to drive business results."

"We are grateful for the opportunity to have had this journey together, and we wish the John Hancock team every success as we move forward on different paths," added Ms. Kaplan. "We look forward to building new relationships and creating influential work that matters with a new partner in this category."

Representatives from Dentsu were not immediately available for comment regarding the current review, which is being handled by Pile & Co.

"We're looking to focus on customer centricity and health and wellness and thinking about how to differentiate ourselves in the market by filling specific customer needs and focusing on things that are important to them versus having a product-based approach to the market," said Ms. Garrigues.

Manulife has a "huge breadth and depth of products," so one of the marketing objectives for 2017, she said, is to shift the brand "to look and feel more like one unified holistic offering."

Ms. Garrigues added that Manulife may end up with one or multiple agencies in different geographies depending on the proposals that come in during the pitch process. Manulife is at least eight weeks out from selecting any winners.

"This is an amazing opportunity for the company in terms of positioning and leveraging the strength of some of our brands and there's huge commitment from the board and the CEO around marketing and branding," said Ms. Garrigues.

Manulife works with Mindshare on most of its global media efforts. Ms. Garrigues said the company wants to focus on the creative RFP right now and "will see where things go with media" in terms of any upcoming reviews.

John Hancock spent about $23.8 million in the U.S. on measured media in 2015, according to Kantar Media.