MetLife Names Argonaut New Creative Agency

Global CMO Esther Lee Launched Review Three Months After Joining Insurance Company

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Argonaut has been named MetLife's new global creative agency after a review.

The review was initiated by the insurance company's relatively new Global Chief Marketing Officer Esther Lee, who joined the company in December. The review began in March and was handled by Select Resources.

Esther Lee
Esther Lee

Ms. Lee said she initiated the review because she wanted marketing to have a "clean slate." The account had previously been at MDC Partners' CP&B, which was invited to participate in the review, but declined, Ms. Lee said.

"When I joined and looked at what type of work we had been doing, I saw that it was a lot of basic communications around our products and services. There was not a lot of energy around the bigger story of the brand," Ms. Lee said. "To me, the purpose of the company, what we do for people and how we drive society forward are pieces of the brand story. We needed an ideas agency that could create this platform and do detailed communication."

Ms. Lee said the executives at Argonaut are "big idea guys. They have mastered the art of figuring out how to express a truth about a company in a simple, clear and profound way." Ms. Lee added that the review was cut short, and she didn't have agencies present in a final round. "We realized Argonaut was such a strong front runner that it didn't make sense to finish the review," she said.

Ms. Lee declined to say when work would launch, but noted that the company is "reenergizing the MetLife brand," adding that "a lot of people think insurance is sleepy and that's not the way we look at it."

Rick Condos, chief creative officer at Argonaut said that part of the appeal of working on MetLife was the "chance to make it iconic." As the company grows more globally, they need a "simple iconic idea that can travel around the world, and that's the stuff we get pretty excited about."

Argonaut, based in San Francisco and owned by Project Worldwide, is a relatively new agency, opening about two years ago. The shop first attracted attention for its Volkswagen spot "Wings" in the 2014 Super Bowl. The shop has also worked with Fitbit, and earlier this year, it was named to the Hershey roster, along with Anomaly and Barkley.

MetLife spent close to $90 million on U.S. measured media last year, according to Kantar Media, up slightly from $86.4 million in 2013.

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