It might be one of the most unusual reviews in recent history: a bevy of creative hotshops chasing a company that rents industrial equipment. But after a review that lasted several months, independent Droga5 has won duties as lead creative and strategic agency for United Rentals.
The shop triumphed over finalists that included WPP's VML, Interpublic Group of Cos.' MullenLowe and IPG's McCann, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter. Stamford, Conn.-based United Rentals, founded in 1997, has historically used a handful of creative agencies for marketing communications work.
Despite its seemingly unsexy appearance, the review presented contenders with an appealing marketing challenge for a b-to-b client that has more than 1,000 rental locations in North America and and employs 16,400 people. Its customers include those in the construction and industrial sectors, as well as utilities, municipalities and homeowners.
Droga5 founder and creative chairman David Droga said United Rentals is "literally helping transform building sites, skylines and futures." Droga added the agency looks forward to "trying to live up to their ambitious mandate."
Chief Marketing Officer Chris Hummel said the company is seeking to get the word out about its portfolio of services beyond just equipment rental, such as safety training and drone survey mapping.
"That's a different audience than the guys who manage fleets and equipment," says Hummel, who notes that while the company will still work with those bread-and-butter clients, it wants to expand to reach a more executive audience and those in broader industries.
"We really like the position we have" as market leader, Hummel says, "but we do need to explain to [customers] that we have a bigger offering to help them with their bigger needs."
Hummel says many agencies in the hunt for the account were interested in pitching for the business, but didn't necessarily have experience with industrial or equipment rental clients. He said some agencies bowed out, while many showed "very good work." What set Droga5 apart, he says, were ideas that were "much deeper, much more layered and impactful, rather than just the sizzle."
Droga5 will also help the company drive a consistent message through its different business segments.
Avidan Strategies ran the agency search and selection process. Avidan referred comment to the client.
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 is second with 6.9 percent of market share. United Rentals generated $6.6 billion in revenue in 2017. It spent an estimated $2.5 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media.
While media agencies have seen an onslaught of reviews in recent months, many clients reviewing creative duties on their accounts are seeking project-based relationships instead of ongoing agencies of record, Olivier Gauthier, founder and CEO of Comvergence, an international research company that tracks agency pitches, told Ad Age earlier this summer. That could result in agencies competing over fewer AOR relationships. A client looking to significantly ramp up its brand and creative efforts is also alluring for an agency, offering a clean slate for the shop to prove it can impact a brand's bottom line.