U.S. Postal Service Names McCann Creative Agency of Record

Sibling Campbell Ewald Had Been Incumbent, So Business Stays Under Parent Interpublic Group

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After a lengthy review, the U.S. Postal Service has tapped McCann to serve as its creative agency of record, awarding the Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency a contract that can last up to nine years.

In doing so, the USPS is consolidating a variety of marketing services duties under McCann Worldgroup shops. In January, Universal McCann was named the Postal Service's media agency of record, and it had also been partnering with Weber Shandwick for PR duties. MRM is also working with USPS.

The USPS didn't respond to a request for comment by press time and McCann Worldgroup declined to comment on the matter. The other contenders were not disclosed.

For Interpublic's Campbell Ewald -- the incumbent, which had handled creative, media and direct marketing for over a decade -- it's a significant loss. But surely parent Interpublic is relieved to see the entire account stay within the holding company.

This pitch has been full of fits and starts. It began in 2011, then the review was paused. Almost a year later, the Postal Service split the initial RFP into separate briefs -- creative and media among others -- and restarted the process. Not only has it been a long process, but it's a challenged client. The Postal Service hasn't turned a profit in years and due to the losses attempted to cut Saturday delivery, but that was thwarted recently.

Still, for an agency whose North American operations struggled for the past several years to make it into any new business pitches -- let alone actually manage to win one -- it's good news, especially since as a government contract it's business that could be guaranteed for several years. The USPS still outspends other government entities, such as the Army and Marine Corps. According to the Ad Age Datacenter, for the most recent full year of spending numbers in 2011, the Postal Service spent about $95 million.

It's also a sign that things seem to be moving in a positive direction under new boss Harris Diamond a few months into his tenure. He took over for Nick Brien in November 2012. Just recently, General Motors awarded the agency more business by consolidating at McCann all Chevy creative work that had earlier been at Goodby Silverstein & Partners under the Commonwealth structure.

Before that, Mr. Harris led the creation of a new unit to house the agency's Mastercard business and hired back creative Joyce King Thomas to lead the work -- a move that was widely seen as a way to protect the business from heading elsewhere.

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