Mekanism's new performance capability helps it earn string of clients
Mekanism’s biggest claim to fame may be its contribution to the meteoric rise of Peloton after it became the exercise company’s agency of record nearly five years ago. But lately it's developing a rather different reputation—as one of a rising number of creative shops developing an analytics and optimization capability.
“We're fairly well known in the industry, but people are surprised when they see the big brands that we have,” Jason Harris, CEO of Mekanism told Ad Age. “Two types of brands tend to come to us. One is brands that are really established and well known, but are looking to become more relevant. On the flip side, we get a lot of insurgent brands that are looking to become famous faster, or more established.”
Some of the recent brands drawn to Mekanism and its new performance offering dubbed Soul + Science, include Quaker's Rice-a-Roni, Rice Crisps and Chips, Chewy and Instant Quaker Oats, for which it won agency-of-record status following a three-month review; Weber Grills, for which it is U.S. AOR; gambling company Betway, and GoodRX.
In addition, the agency will be developing a campaign for a new Unilever brand in the beauty and haircare category, following a quick one-month review. The agency has experience working with Unilever, since it is the AOR for ice cream brand Talenti. The agency is also expanding its partnership with Amazon to include project work for its cross-channel marketing team, adding to its existing relationship with the etailer's small business empowerment team. These recent wins follow Mekanism was named AOR for Proximo Spirits’ Jose Cuervo brand last year.
Harris attributes Mekanism’s recent wins and year-over-year revenue growth to its new performance offering. The agency spent the beginning of the pandemic building out its performance team of about 12 people who focus on analytics and optimization.
“For every campaign we do, and for every client that we have, we're adding this measurement layer, whether we're doing media buying or planning or not,” Harris says. “Every brief we have, soul and science is our positioning. Soul is really the emotional part. What connects with and audience, what the brands’ purpose is, what's the core to the brand, or the soul of the brand. The science part is the logic part which is research and insights leading into creative ideas. But, it's also optimizing and analyzing the work as we go.”
The agency has also built out a client-facing dashboard called Ground Control, described as a “hybrid CMS and data portal” built on Google Data Studios and Google BigQuery, as the back end. The platform allows clients to measure insights of campaigns and work in real-time.
“It’s rare to see a creative agency be so data-centric–and it’s a positive approach for current and potential clients,” Greg Paull, principal of R3 says. “WPP was one of the first to sense this as an issue by bringing Wunderman, VML and AKQA closer to their traditional creative partners. Mekanism has always been at the forefront of bold, boutique creative ideas—with the data muscle to back it up, it becomes a compelling offering.”
Lindsey Slaby, founder of consultancy Sunday Dinner, says some independent creative agencies that have been doing a good job of bringing media thinking upstream include Movement Strategy, Media x Mother, Fig, and Day One.
“I absolutely love and look for creative agencies that have media strategy and light social buying capabilities—one, this means they can help think about work from a full-funnel perspective, and two, they can test and learn with key creative formats, messages, and placements.”
Creative agencies becoming more media and data-focused continues to be crucial to delivering ROI. “Advertisers want ROI to be the highest-scoring criteria, but on average across all agencies, it is the lowest scoring criteria,” says Simon Francis, CEO of Flock Associates. “This clearly shows the gap that the smartest agencies are trying to fill; to use data and analytics to improve ROI. Data and analytics are now freely available to all agencies, often as a pay-as-you-go basis, so there is very little reason why a creative agency cannot or should not look to use analytics and data to drive creative performance. But, building proprietary tools is still very rare, as it takes specialist staff, and is capital expensive."
As for the new clients, Harris says Quaker is looking for the agency to help its brands brands become more digitally and socially modern, broadening audience by appealing to a younger demographic. The agency will is also charged with building brand awareness for GoodRX and Weber. As for Betway, Mekanism will be tasked with helping the company break into the U.S.
The online gambling company has largely operated in European countries but has been making moves to enter the American zeitgeist. In March Betway agreed to sponsorship deals with five National Basketball Association teams (The Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Clippers and Golden State Warriors) as well as the National Hockey League’s Islanders, according to SBCAmericas.
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