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Agency A-List 2018

MRM/McCann Is Ad Age's 2018 B-to-B Agency of the Year

By Published on .

(From l.): Bill Kolb, Ariana Stolarz, Kate MacNevin, Sung Chang, Subu Desaraju, Marcy Q. Samet and Neal Prescott.
(From l.): Bill Kolb, Ariana Stolarz, Kate MacNevin, Sung Chang, Subu Desaraju, Marcy Q. Samet and Neal Prescott. Credit: Josh Wood Courtesy MRM/McCann

When the United States Postal Service tasked MRM/McCann with getting political campaigns to spend more on postage, the agency set to work making direct mail great again.

The USPS earned a significant chunk of political spending in 2012, but it saw that political spend was set to increase significantly—and it wanted to keep up.

To lure more dollars to mail, MRM launched "Direct Mail Is the Perfect Platform for Your Platform" for the 2016 elections, 2018 midterms and races in between. The agency gave campaign managers "real-time" insights with a Marketing Impact Calculator application that helped them adjust their current spending and media mix, see shifts in message lift and determine which pieces were getting the best returns. MRM also gave mail a little glamour with augmented reality and sound chips that made it shareable.

A piece from a direct mail campaign for the United States Postal Service.
A piece from a direct mail campaign for the United States Postal Service. Credit: United States Postal Service

Along the way, the agency had a string of wins last year, including becoming customer experience agency of record for BASF's North American agricultural products, digital AOR for Sunovion's new Parkinson's disease treatment, agency of record for mortgage financing provider Fannie Mae, and GSK's global digital and multichannel marketing AOR for respiratory products.

Gartner also moved MRM/McCann from "challenger" to "leader" in its "Magic Quadrant for Global Digital Marketing Agencies" report in 2017, citing the agency's ability to transform client businesses around the customer and deliver measurable business impact as a result.

MRM/McCann has invested in creative talent in recent years on the agency's highest rungs, which has started to manifest in the work, says Bill Kolb, the global president of diversified agencies for McCann Worldgroup, chairman and CEO of Commonwealth/McCann and global chairman for MRM/McCann. "We basically changed all the creative senior leadership in the top 12 markets. ... We've done pretty much a universal upgrade. We're seeing it in the work, we're seeing it in how it comes to life."

Kolb says talent, along with a focus on strategy, sets the agency apart from consultancies: "You've seen consultants try to get into the b-to-b space, and I think our differentiation is the ability to string together creativity and execution. We see them pop up, but they're not being really successful because they can't really execute on creativity."

The agency has also been looking at creative new ways to solve problems. Its new Purple Briefs program, named for the agency's signature color, is a way to connect its thousands of employees to find solutions to client needs in a matter of 48 hours.

"In a world where clients are asking us to move faster, we have to solve problems faster," says Kate MacNevin, global president and chief operating officer. "This is a tool that allows us to do that."

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