Big-time shops duke it out for United Rentals' agency business

By Published on .

Credit: United Rentals

Major creative agencies are finalists in an agency review for United Rentals—the world's largest equipment rental company you may have never heard of.

United Rentals spent $2.5 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media, but the company seems poised to invest more as it searches for a lead ad agency. The company, founded in 1997, uses a handful of creative agencies for marketing communications work, "but no true ad agency," says the company's CMO Chris Hummel.

"We are going through a review process to select an advertising agency to lead our branding, creative and activation," Hummel said in an emailed statement. "This process is part of a multi-year program to elevate the experience of our customers across all digital and physical touch points."

"We're very excited about how this new agency partnership will help us work better with our customers to help them deliver better performance, productivity and safety in the jobs that they have to do," Hummel continued.

The finalists in the review include WPP's VML, IPG's MullenLowe, independent shop Droga5 and IPG's McCann, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter. The company is expected to make a decision in the third quarter. The agencies declined to comment.

Avidan Strategies is running the agency search and selection process, Hummel says.

United Rentals has more than 1,000 rental locations across the U.S. and Canada and employs roughly 15,000, according to a July press release. Its customers include those in the construction and industrial sectors, as well as utilities, municipalities and homeowners.

United Rentals is the world's largest equipment rental company, with 10.1 percent market share in the U.S., according to market research firm IbisWorld. Sunbelt Rentals Inc. holds 6.9 percent of market share here.

United Rentals generated $6.6 billion in revenue in 2017. The company plans to report second-quarter earnings this week.

It may seem striking that such high-powered shops are chasing an account that up until now hasn't invested much, relatively speaking, in the way of marketing. While media agencies have seen an onslaught of reviews in recent months, however, many clients reviewing creative duties on their accounts are seeking project-based relationships instead of ongoing agencies of record, says Olivier Gauthier, founder and CEO of Comvergence, an international research company that tracks agency pitches. That could mean agencies are competing over fewer AOR relationships.

A client looking for help significantly ramping up its brand and creative efforts is also likely alluring for an agency, offering a clean slate of sorts to try to demonstrate what kind of impact it can make on the brand's bottom line.

Most Popular
In this article: