Agency Brief: The dog days are not over yet
This past week the world honored our loyal fur buddies as International Dog Day swept the internet. Meanwhile, thousands of others put social media on pause to venture out into the Nevada desert for the annual Burning Man Festival. Both of these things are actually relevant to this Agency Brief.
S4 Capital’s Martin Sorrell denied this week through a spokesman that he planned to hold his board meeting at the Burning Man Festival he so adores (he’s attended the arts festival in the past; interviewed CEO Marian Goodell on stage at this year’s Cannes Lions; and even featured the iconic Burning Man figure on S4’s prospectus at the company’s launch). Yet an unidentified someone close to the situation recently told Ad Age’s George P. Slefo that it was in fact a considered destination. Why those plans blew up in smoke, who knows? It’s hard to imagine how a crew of corporate bigwigs discussing marginal growth would fit into a crowd of freethinkers who denounce their very existence. But perhaps a little harmony is all the world needs these days … there’s always next year.
Let’s ‘make fetch happen’
Gretchen Wieners isn't the only one who wants to "make fetch happen.” That’s how Serendipit Consulting is positioning its effort to propel a pup to viral fame. Through the upcoming Friday the 13th, the marketing and communications agency will be accepting applications from any ambarktious pupper who wants to receive an entire brand identity from its staff. The agency will select one dog—big or small, young or old, furry or hairy, from a family or shelter—to go through the agency’s “invigorating” brand creation process that will include the development or redo of social media channels; a brand positioning; tagline; logo and other assets. “Our culture at Serendipit Consulting can really be summed up by two things: people who are insanely passionate about marketing and people who love dogs,” says Alexis Krisay, Serendipit Consulting partner and president of marketing. Fetch your application here.
If dogs were vegans, maybe when Cujo contracted rabies he would have ravaged vegetable gardens instead of towns of people, or Ralphie Parker and his "Christmas Story" family would have enjoyed their holiday turkey that ended up in the belly of hounds. Or, in a real-life scenario, our canine friends may just be a little healthier not consuming the already-dead and diseased animal carcass that makes up the majority of dog food. At least that's the argument of Wild Earth, which is breaking its first 60-second ad for its new plant-based dog food.
The spot, from Oakland, California-based independent agency EVB, demonstrates just how edible the brand's vegan kibble is by having Wild Earth CEO and Founder Ryan Bethencourt munch on it himself. The ad is part of a complete rebrand EVB has been tasked to spearhead; the agency is also handling the company’s brand strategy, messaging, packaging and sales materials. “To change the world, we need to change food—how it’s made and consumed,” says EVB President Shane Ginsberg. “We are thrilled to join our friends at Wild Earth on their mission. We share their sense of purpose and love of furry babies.”
The brand Wild Earth may sound familiar to “Shark Tank” fans. Bethencourt took his company to the competition show for budding entrepreneurs and won over judge Mark Cuban when Wild Earth was only in the business of making dog treats.
Speaking of 'Shark Tank' …
Matt Higgins, the co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures—a VaynerMedia investor and Gary Vaynerchuk’s first client—is returning to “Shark Tank” for its 11th season. He’s the only guest judge to return to the show from the previous season, when he made his first appearance alongside retired NBA player Charles Barkley and “Shark Tank” entrepreneur Jamie Siminoff, who failed to win over the Sharks with his Wi-Fi-enabled video doorbell company Ring in 2013 (joke’s on them because Amazon eventually acquired the startup). Higgins is truly a self-made mogul. A high-school dropout at age 16, Higgins grew up in poverty in Queens, New York, received his GED, entered college early to “claw my way out,” he says, and began his career as a journalist managing the Pulitzer Prize-nominated “Action Desk” column for the Queens Tribune. He co-founded RSE Ventures, which invests in media and marketing enterprises, in 2012. “‘Shark Tank’ reminds us that no matter what dire circumstances you were born into in this great country, if you have an amazing idea, and the fire to pursue it, you can do anything,” Higgins says.
The Swedes set out to shake things up
Say hello to a new self-proclaimed “ideas” shop and creative partner, JR. (that's not a typo) Agency, named after its founders—Magnus Jakobsson and Evelina Rönnung, an award-winning creative duo based in Stockholm who have produced memorable work for brands like Ikea and McDonald’s. Jakobsson hails from Swedish agency Åkestam Holst, where he was executive creative director, and Rönnung from MDC-owned F&B, where she was a senior creative. The duo say their new shop will offer creative and strategic services to “curious clients” who may not want “a crowd” at a large agency working on their business. They say they target “brands who want to break free from the status quo of marketing” and if they can’t “make it interesting, we don’t make it at all.” Jakobsson says some might call them “a bit naive. However, we believe that as an independent agency, we don’t have to bow to anyone or anything but the temple of great ideas.” Rönnung adds, “Most agency of record-deals are basically out the window these days, so we want to offer more flexible ways of working with creative top talent for brands who need to boost their marketing beyond both in-house agencies and traditional agency-collaborations.”
MuteSix joins the Dentsu family
Dentsu Aegis Network is buying MuteSix, a 120-person digital-performance and direct-to-consumer marketing agency, to join the holding company’s iProspect network. Going forward, Dentsu says the agency will go by the (lengthy and unoriginal) name of MuteSix, an iProspect Company. Headquartered in Los Angeles, MuteSix was founded in 2015 by CEO Steve Weiss and President Daniel Rutberg, who will continue to lead the agency and report to iProspect U.S. CEO Jeremy Cornfeldt. “With their expertise in this unique segment of the market, combined with our deep experience working with larger portfolio enterprise companies and global performance marketers, we now offer a full suite of performance marketing solutions for clients at every stage of their growth,” Cornfeldt says.
We have a winner
WPP’s Wavemaker retains the global $53 million—according to COMvergence estimates—media account of Chevron following a review. MEC had held the media account for 16 years before the energy company launched a procurement-driven review of its agencies earlier this year. (Wavemaker was formed in 2017 through the merger of MEC and Maxus.)
Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider, names StrawberryFrog its agency-of-record following a review. The appointment ends Northwell’s relationship with incumbent agency of record WPP’s Wunderman Thompson. StrawberryFrog expects to debut work for the client in the first quarter of 2020.
Knoxville-based Tombras picks up the Krusteaz pancake and baking mix brand of CPG company Continental Mills following a review managed by Mercer Island Group. Under the partnership, Tombras will handle strategic planning, brand creative, digital, social media and analytics for the Krusteaz business. “You better believe with a name like Krusteaz and being in the pancake category we’re going to have some serious fun with the creative,” says Dooley Tombras, agency president.
Bojangles, the Charlotte, N.C.-based southern-style restaurant chain, names EP&Co as its lead creative agency following a review. The partnership takes effect on Oct. 1, when the agency will take over responsibilities for traditional advertising including in-store marketing, social content, brand strategy and planning. Joanne Davis Consulting managed the review that began earlier this year. “EP&Co brought us fresh, bold ideas that are going to resonate with both our current and future customer,” says Bojangles Chief Marketing Officer Jackie Woodward. “We loved their forward-looking approach and the energy they are going to infuse in our brand and business.”
Spanish restaurant franchise Grupo Rodilla selects Miami-based Zubi as its advertising agency of record to support its launch in the U.S. Zubi, part of WPP, will provide full-service integrated marketing programs for Rodilla under the partnership. “We are very happy to get to Miami,” Rodilla CEO Maria Carceller says. “It is an important step for the company and, therefore, we want to do it hand-in-hand with those partners who share with us commitment, good work and innovation.”
Milwaukee marketing agency Hanson Dodge picks up the State of Utah’s Office of Tourism website business in a five-year contract following a government procurement-led review. Under the partnership, Hanson Doge will redesign and support the development of visitutah.com. The agency expects to debut new website work in January 2020.
And this week’s hires …
Vice creative agency Virtue names Rob Newlan as global president, Krystle Watler as managing director of North America and Simon Mogren as executive creative director, U.S. The agency says the appointments follow 24 new client wins this past year. Newlan previously was CEO of the agency’s EMEA and Asia regions; Watler was senior VP and head of business development for North America; and Mogren joins the agency after spending time at DDB Stockholm, Ogilvy Paris and BBDO New York.
Cogniscient Media, part of Marc USA, promotes Sadie Barlow to the new position of director of integrated media. She was serving as associate media director for Marc USA. In her new role, Barlow will ensure key disciplines such as analytics, martech, customer experience and CRM are included in every media plan from the start.
Benjamin Weisman joins full-service agency o2kl as experience design director from PureRed, where he was VP and executive creative director. Prior to that he was senior VP, digital creative innovation and director of experience design at MRM/McCann. At o2kl, Weisman will help strengthen the agency’s digital positioning.
Chicago-based independent agency Blue Chip expands its executive leadership team through the promotion of Elizabeth Bleser to senior VP of integrated media from vice president of digital strategy. The agency also promoted Jason Geis and Joel Walker, both group creative directors, to VPs.
Full-service agency Infinity Marketing has named three to coordinator positions within its media department. Nicole McAlister becomes social media and PR coordinator, Laura Mann is digital coordinator and Madi Kwiatkowski is media coordinator.