Agency Brief: Longtime Omnicom executive passes, Pitbull starts a shop with Horizon Media
A quick shameless plug to begin this week’s Agency Brief: if you haven’t already checked out the winners of Ad Age’s Small Agency Awards, drop everything and go do that. This week, Ad Age celebrates 10 years of the annual awards and conference designed for the industry’s smaller, independent, nimbler and scrappier agencies that deserve more love and attention than they, ahem, typically get from other publications. The conference, held in New Orleans on Tuesday and Wednesday, featured speakers including David Droga, who gave the keynote speech, plus Sunday Dinner’s Lindsey Slaby, Badger & Winters’ Madonna Badger, Walrus’ Frances Webster and Verb’s Shannon Simpson Jones.
The industry says goodbye to an icon
Janet Riccio, executive vice president and dean of Omnicom University, died on Tuesday at her Manhattan home after a battle with ALS. A leading voice for female empowerment and equality in advertising, Riccio started Omniwomen—a global movement comprised of Omnicom senior leaders who work to promote and support women in the industry—in 2014. She first joined Omnicom in 2004 as executive vice president with oversight of some of the holding company’s largest clients. Riccio became dean of Omnicom University in 2012. Beginning her career in the mailroom of a small shop in Fairfield, Conn., she has held stints at Arnold in Boston and DDB Chicago and was SVP and international group account director at DDB Worldwide before joining the larger parent Omnicom network 15 years ago. Outside of advertising, Riccio co-chaired the board of directors for the New York Women’s Foundation and was a champion of Project ALS, for which Omnicom is seeking donations in her honor.
“Janet was an invaluable member of our team since 1998,” Omnicom CEO and Chairman John Wren says. “She was relentless in making Omnicom University a vital learning tool for our key executives and future leaders. She leaves behind a legacy of generosity and charisma and her passing marks a significant loss to the Omnicom community.”
Pitbull and Horizon Media launch a new multicultural shop
Grammy-winning artist Armando Christian Perez, better known by his stage name Pitbull, teams up with Horizon Media to open a new full-service multicultural agency called 305 Worldwide. Perez becomes chief creative officer of the agency, which will be led by Horizon Media Founder, CEO and President Bill Koenigsberg and Karina Dobarro, Horizon's senior vice president and managing director of multicultural and now chief strategist of 305 Worldwide. The agency will be based in Horizon's New York headquarters and Miami, where Pitbull operates his various businesses and projects. "Short steps, long vision," Perez says. "Horizon Media consistently breaks through to multicultural audiences in innovative ways that have caught my attention."
Toasting UWG’s 50th year
WPP-backed UWG, which rebranded from UniWorld Group in 2014, celebrates its 50th anniversary as one of the longest-standing multicultural agencies in the U.S. Founded by Byron Lewis in 1969 with one account, Smirnoff Vodka, the agency has become a formidable player in the ad industry, working with brands including Burger King, Lincoln-Mercury, Mars, the U.S. Marine Corps and Ford Motor Co. UWG created its first TV spot for Avon in 1979 and developed the first campaign for the U.S. Marines that was targeted to the African American community in 2008. Lewis was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame in 2013.
Finding the right chemistry
Chemistry, an independent agency in Pittsburgh and Atlanta, takes a majority stake in Pinta, a self-described full-service cross-cultural agency. The combined network boasts a client roster of Carnival Cruise Line, H&R Block, Heineken, the NFL and T-Mobile. With the acquisition, Chemistry expands its footprint to New York, San Francisco and Nashville. Pinta was founded in 2014 and is an expert in content creation, influencer marketing and “below-the-line” communications.
Another perfect match
Innocean Worldwide, the Hyundai Motor Company’s global advertising division that has owned David & Goliath since 2017, also makes a significant acquisition this week. The network acquires Australia-based creative and digital production company Wellcom Group to further expand its footprint. Wellcom is the parent company of eight subsidiaries in the U.S., Europe and Asia-Pacific, focusing in digital-creative content production, social-media strategy and digital-marketing services. The company’s clients include Tesco, Tempur-Sealy, Telstra, Victoria’s Secret, The Body Shop, Louis Vuitton and L’Oreal. "Thanks to Wellcom Group, Innocean’s digital marketing value chain is now complete,” says Innocean Global CEO Kun-Hee Ahn. “By maximizing the synergy between the Korean HQ and overseas operations, we will stand as a truly global-leading company in the digital transformation era."
This brewery wants to cash in on the hard-seltzer craze
Madison, Wis.-based craft brewery Ale Asylum is partnering with creative and branding agency Planet Propaganda, also of Madison, to get in on the hard-seltzer trend (Nielsen reports hard seltzer sales grew 193 percent in 2019 from 2018). Launching its own brand of hard seltzer, Stray Forth, Ale Asylum hires Planet Propaganda to promote the beverage ahead of its Aug. 8 release in Madison-area liquor stores, groceries and bars. The agency is tasked with developing the product’s full branding and design story, including naming, logo, packaging design, audience definition and marketing strategy. Planet Propaganda will remain a partner to Stray Forth—coming in flavors “Enchant-Mint, Clairvoyance, Safari and Walkabout”—as it looks to expand beyond the Madison market.
PMK*BNC and Rogers & Cowen unite
Rogers & Cowen merges with PMK*BNC, creating a new global agency for talent management, PR and integrated marketing that spans more than 500 clients, represented by a team of 350 people. Alan Nierob becomes chairman of the agency’s entertainment division. Shirley Hughes will be president. Bill Rosenthal becomes chief operating and financial officer. Brad Cafarelli and Fran Curtis are both vice chairmen in L.A. and New York, respectively. The combined entity will unveil a new name in the coming months.
The wins of the week
Richards/Lerma, a full-service Hispanic-focused agency, has been selected by Ocean Spray, a maker of dried cranberries and juices, for its launch into multicultural markets. The agency, through creative and strategy, is tasked with driving awareness of Ocean Spray’s products in new consumer segments including younger and multicultural demographics.
The Gate New York, part of the global Gate Worldwide network, won the creative and media buying and planning account of online auto retailer Carsation, following a three-month review. The agency will also be responsible for a full rebrand of the company including a new name, identity and communications. The first work from The Gate New York is expected to debut sometime later this summer.
Some hiring highlights
WPP’s Grey promotes Diego Medvedocky to president of the network’s Latin America region. Medvedocky is Grey Latin America’s chief creative officer and president of Grey Argentina, both roles he retains. Medvedocky joined Grey Argentina as executive creative director in 2013 and was elevated to chief creative officer of the Latin America division a year later. Under his leadership, Grey Argentina has doubled its revenue and clients, while Grey Latin America was named the Cannes Lions Regional Network of the Year in 2017 and 2018. “The truth is that I did not expect this but it makes me very happy,” Medvedocky says.
Interpublic Group’s Campbell Ewald elevates Kari Shimmel to chief strategy officer. She will oversee a strategy team comprised of Chris Marchegiani, who becomes group director of brand and integrated strategy, and Ashok Sharma, who comes to the agency as group director of integrated content and channel strategy. The team will be run in Detroit, New York and Los Angeles. Suzanne McGee, who has been running PR for Campbell Ewald since June, will also be taking up earned media strategy duties for clients at the agency. McGee used to lead communications for MullenLowe.
Match Marketing Group, a self-proclaimed consumer engagement agency operating in the U.S. and Canada, hires Brian Cohen as CEO. Cohen succeeds Michael Dill, who will be leaving after picking up the post in 2017 and who says he be will announcing his next move sometime in 2020. Cohen hails from Epsilon Agency, part of the data-marketing conglomerate Publicis recently acquired for $4.4 billion, where he was chief operating officer for nearly two years.
Wavemaker appoints Pedro Laboy as the GroupM network’s chief precision marketing officer in the U.S. Laboy hails from Critical Mass where he was chief data and innovation officer. In the new gig, Laboy will focus on leveraging precision marketing for Wavemaker’s clients and connecting its audience-planning skills to search, social, programmatic and commerce. “As marketers shift to more audience-centric strategies, agencies must enable seamless connections from audience data and insights to cross-channel activation and commerce,” says Wavemaker U.S. CEO Amanda Richman, who Laboy reports to.
FCB New York adds Sy-Jenq Cheng as executive creative director and head of art, a new role created by Chief Creative Officer Ari Halper. For the past several years, Cheng was freelancing as a creative and design director and prior to that was a senior art director for Wieden & Kennedy London and Amsterdam, working with clients like Nike.
Creative shop Blue State hires Rob Trono from digital agency FullSix London as a creative director in the U.K. Trono brought in clients Pernod Ricard, Nokia and Sainsbury's while at FullSix. He also spent six years as a digital creative director for Publicis Chemistry, leading work for Aviva, Dove and Baileys.