Mercedes-Benz has hired Publicis Groupe as its global agency network for creative and digital transformation, following a six-month review.
The assignment will span around 40 markets worldwide, but will exclude the U.S., Germany and China, which are handled by Merkley & Partners, Antoni and BBDO, respectively. Publicis Groupe will work closely with these other agency partners.
The holding company has created a new agency for the Mercedes business named Publicis Emil after Emil Jellinek, an automotive pioneer in the early 1900s who had a daughter named Mercedes.
"It was Emil who placed a large order for a new car with Daimler with one condition: that they be named after his daughter, Mercedes. It is in this same spirit of progress that we have adopted his name for our new agency," wrote Publicis Groupe Chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun in an internal memo.
The new agency, headquartered in Berlin, will include talent and expertise from agencies across Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient and Publicis One. Publicis expects the new agency model to be fully operation by July 1, Sadoun said in the email.
Justin Billingsley, chief operating officer of Publicis Communications, will lead the dedicated Mercedes agency with assistance from Maggie Lonergan, VP and Power of One lead for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Publicis Communications Europe Chief Transformation Officer Claire Molyneux.
"This was without a doubt the biggest pitch in the industry over the past 18 months, and one of the most significant wins the Groupe in many years," wrote Sadoun in the email. "But more importantly, it is the living proof that the new model we're putting in place, to become the market leaders in marketing and business transformation, is working."
Publicis Groupe's Power of One model is being used for a number of other clients, such as Walmart, HP and USAA.
According to the Ad Age Datacenter's World's Largest Advertisers 2017 report, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler is the 10th largest advertiser in the world.
Mercedes-Benz won the U.S. luxury sales crown in 2017 and 2018 both globally and in the U.S., beating BMW and Lexus. The brand's marketing hit a pothole in China earlier this month by this month after it posted an inspirational quote from the Dalai Lama on its Instagram account. It drew backlash because China considers the Tibetan spiritual leader to be an "anti-China separatist," forcing the automaker to apologize.
Check below to watch Sadoun's video to staff about the appointment.