After Unusual and Speedy Review, MassMutual Brings on Johannes Leonardo

Review Consultant Skips RFP; Uses Interviews to Choose Shop

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MassMutual commercial
MassMutual commercial Credit: MassMutual via YouTube
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MassMutual has appointed Johannes Leonardo as its new creative agency of record, following a rather unusual streamlined review process.

In a newer twist, New York-based consultancy Sunday Dinner, which handled the review for MassMutual, decided to interview agencies for the business rather than issuing a formal competitive RFP. "When we were approached by MassMutual, we took every opportunity to put the development of new relationships first and sidelined the 'pitch' process," said Sunday Dinner Founder Lindsey Slaby, whose Twitter description of the company reads, "helping brands discover new ways of working with specialist creative and tech agencies."

By eliminating the RFP, MassMutual cut the review process window from six months to three, narrowing the time frame on an exercise that can be a time suck and costly enterprise for both the advertiser and the pitching agency.

The consultancy used its own knowledge of agencies to select which ones to talk to for MassMutual's creative account. "It was liberating, and fresh approach to finding the right kind of agency partner and we both aligned on our values and ambitions for the brand," said Johannes Leonardo President Bryan Yasko.

Mullen had been working on the account since 2006. Representatives from the Interpublic Group shop were not immediately available for comment.

Johannes Leonardo will handle creative and strategy across all channels for MassMutual. Mr. Yasko said the agency's first creative work for the brand will come out sometime this year, but declined to go into further detail.

MassMutual Brand and Advertising Head Jennifer Halloran, who joined the company in October, said in a statement that Johannes Leonardo's "award-winning work and diverse breadth of clients, such as Adidas, Google and Sonnet, demonstrates a category- and-channel-agnostic approach in delivering messaging to all consumers and flexing along the journey to remain fresh, relevant and resonating."

Mr. Yasko said the financial services industry is continuing to evolve, and MassMutual, which has 165 years of helping Americans under its belt, has "tremendous opportunities" in how it speaks to current and new generation customers going forward.

MassMutual spent about $10 million on measured media in 2015, according to Kantar.