Introducing Small Agency Monday: the Brief
Billups Americas CEO David Krupp is making good on his promise to start an initiative in tune with Small Business Saturday–but for small, independent agencies that he says need the industry’s support, especially now as they fight their way out of the pandemic.
He recently wrote in an op-ed for Ad Age, “Our industry could do more to raise awareness of these innovative, hardworking, job-creating organizations. What if independent advertising and media agencies had the equivalent of American Express’ Small Business Saturday? Let’s celebrate small agencies on the third Monday of each September. While not as easy as frequenting a local café, hardware or bookstore, we can provide opportunity that Monday for small agencies to get an audience with brands who could benefit from their service.”
Well, Krupp is getting things rolling. On Monday, Sept. 21, he is introducing the first annual Small Agency Monday (to be celebrated every third Monday of September going forward, as he suggested). The holiday is debuting in partnership with large marketing organizations such as Worldwide Partners, Magnet Global Network and Tribe Global, a global network of independent shops.
“Small Agency Monday was developed to level the playing field during this uncertain time and beyond, and counter the notion that only holding companies can deliver big results,” Krupp tells Ad Age. “This myth has been perpetuated for too long.”
He says the initiative was created “to shine a light on the small shops we, and the industry, admire, with the overall intention of getting the attention of clients that may not have looked to small agencies in the past.” It launches with a social campaign that the initiative’s partners will promote on their own platforms, and a website that in the coming months will feature stories, interviews and podcasts with leaders of independents. The goal, according to the campaign, is to help brands find new partners with fresh thinking, “whether it is an AOR opportunity or a chance to work on a product launch or project."
Krupp says any independent agency of any size can submit to be featured on the platform via the website or by emailing [email protected]
A rising coalition of independents
Meanwhile, it seems a group of 17 independent media shops in the U.K. had a similar idea as Krupp. The group—led by the7stars, the U.K.’s largest independent media agency, and Andrew Stephens, co-founder of indie media shop Goodstuff—are working together to launch a new campaign “promoting the benefits of working with dynamic media independents” and highlighting the U.K.’s £1.8 billion ($2.3 billion) independent media agency sector. “Land of Independents” includes a website that promotes and provides information on all 17 independents involved, like Small Agency Monday plans to do. To promote the campaign, independent creative shop Creature developed a series of vintage-style ads to be featured in outdoor, digital and print.
“While we’d normally be competing with one another, the series of unique challenges we’ve faced over the past six months has made us realize that collaboration can be as important as competitiveness,” Stephens says. “We’ve been swapping advice and support during lockdown on a regular basis, so the Land of Independents campaign is the next natural step.”
WPP officially retires Sudler brand, launches VMLYRx
Following WPP’s 2018 integration of its U.S. Sudler healthcare network into VMLY&R to form VMLY&R Health, the holding company says now all of the worldwide Sudler offices will be rebranded as VMLYRx, a new agency serving specialty pharmaceutical companies. All specialist medical teams across Sudler’s eight international markets will be integrated into this VMLY&Rx network. The Sudler brand will officially be retired.
WPP says VMLY&Rx was created by aligning teams from the holding company’s health practice—including talent from Sudler in France, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, China and Japan—with VMLY&R, which itself was formed via the 2018 merger of digital shop VML and legacy creative agency Y&R. The new agency will be led by Claire Gillis, international CEO of WPP Health Practice.
“Today’s healthcare environment is becoming increasingly fragmented and complex, at a time when we need to be working more closely together,” Gillis said in a statement. “This, coupled with a trend towards specialty care and increased multi-stakeholder involvement, prompted us to design an agency built specifically to service these new client needs.”
As Ad Age recently wrote, the healthcare and pharmaceutical advertising space has become a salve for ad agencies wounded by pandemic-induced spending slowdowns in other sectors. As one of the only business divisions still profitable during the pandemic, an increasing number of agency professionals are jumping ship to healthcare marketing.
Dentsu and Toyota investing together
Dentsu, parent of Dentsu Aegis Network, has announced a partnership with Toyota to create two new companies for the automaker to improve its digital communications and transformation efforts. Dentsu says “Operating company 1,” with Toyota subsidiary Delphys at the core, will innovate “communications toward brand-building that generates exceptional customer trust, marketing that anticipates changes of the times and the challenge of executing business in a mobility society.” Per Dentsu, “Operating company 2” will “engage in the creation of new mechanisms, as a research entity in the field of digital communications, through the advancement in the retail domain.” A holding company that both Dentsu and Toyota will have a stake in will preside over the two businesses. Dentsu will hold a 34 percent share and Toyota will control the remaining 66 percent of said holding company. Dentsu says it will act as a “business growth partner” to promote marketing and business transformation for the “client companies.”
Wunderman Thompson exec goes in-house
Ad Age’s Jack Neff reports that Oliver has hired former Wunderman Thompson Chief Growth Officer Simone Forster as global managing director for Unilever's U-Studio. U-Studio, a sprawling operation spanning 21 sites in 18 countries, was formerly led by Alison Katter, who is moving to a new global managing director role covering multiple large clients at Oliver, Neff writes.
“I’ve watched Oliver’s success from afar and, after meeting the team, affirm that this is where I need to be,” Forster says. “U-Studio has been truly revolutionary in pioneering a new model for the industry.”
Oliver, established in 2004, now has more than 2,000 people and clients that include The Guardian, Barclaycard, PepsiCo, AXA, adidas, BMW and 3M. You & Mr. Jones, headed by former Havas executive David Jones, acquired a majority stake in Oliver in 2019.
R/GA elevated Tiffany Rolfe to global chief creative officer from U.S. chief creative officer, executive VP, and Ben Williams to global chief experience officer from senior VP and head of creative. The promotions follow the departure of what seems like R/GA’s entire business transformation practice. Ad Age broke the news last week that R/GA executives—Vice Chairman and Global Chief Strategy Officer Barry Wacksman, Global Chief Innovation Officer Saneel Radia, New York VP Executive Creative Director Mike Rigby, as well as VP and New York Head of Strategy Rachel Mercer, Global Head of Operatings Colby Dennison and VP of Business Transformation Philip Rackin—are leaving to start their own consultancy. It is unclear if R/GA will replace them.
Fig has been appointed agency of record for pet food brand Stella & Chewy’s. The agency will be responsible for both creative and media for the company. The selection follows a competitive, and fully remote, pitch that began at the start of the pandemic. The partnership is effective immediately and Fig expects to debut its first work for Stella & Chewy’s in early 2021.
GroupM, WPP’s media investment group, named César Recalde CEO of Latin America, effective Oct. 1. Recalde will maintain his current role as CEO of MediaCom for Latin America and the Caribbean until the end of the year. He replaces José María Sanabria, who will retire from GroupM at the end of 2020 after 11 years with the company including five as CEO of GroupM LatAm.
Bimm, a data-driven creative agency within the Kyu Collective, won digital responsibilities for all of Audi North America. The partnership expands Bimm’s previous relationship covering digital duties for Audi Canada, adding the U.S. to its scope. The agency says this will allow it to add more talent to its staff “in a time when jobs may be uncertain.”
BBH Singapore was appointed creative partner for Riot Games to support the launch of the upcoming League of Legends: Wild Rift. The agency is tasked with building a global campaign for the release of the new game, which will be made for smartphones. The shop says its remit will include development of “the launch strategy, player journey and creative platform.”
Dentsu Aegis Network announced it hit its target of achieving 100 percent renewable electricity across its worldwide offices “where markets allow.” The holding company, as an RE100 member and as part of an initiative led by the Climate Group, made the commitment in 2015 to procure 100 percent renewable electricity by the end of 2020. Although, Dentsu Aegis Network notes that “challenges remain in sourcing renewable energy in certain markets” in order to achieve full RE100 status.