UPS reunites with The Martin Agency, taps Initiative for media

After 10 years, UPS and Martin are together again

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'What's United Parcel, without the deliverer?'
'What's United Parcel, without the deliverer?' Credit: Photo illustration by Ad Age. Composite image Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

After 10 years, UPS will be working with The Martin Agency again. The Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned shop, which held the account from 2000 until 2009, says it has been selected to handle strategic brand and campaign communications for UPS. The package delivery company will also work with Initiative, another IPG shop, for media.

Both agencies will work in UPS in North American, European and Canadian territories. Martin has been working with the company's European and Canadian units on campaigns since October 2016, and says it will also be leading brand and performance marketing in North America.

UPS said in an emailed statement that Martin is the company's advertising agency of record in the U.S., but declined to comment further.

In 2009, Atlanta, Georgia-based UPS selected WPP shop Ogilvy to handle its global account, which at the time was worth more than $200 million. Sources close to the situation say Ogilvy continues to work on projects along with media shop Neo.

Richmond, Virginia-based Martin, in its last round with UPS, created the "Whiteboard" campaign featuring creative Andy Azula, who has since left the agency to start a company with his wife, Sharon, "designing toys and books that help teach children about growing while helping parents engage with their kids." A portion of the proceeds for the company, called Calloo Callay, will go to children's charities, he says.

The United Parcel Service of America Inc. spent an estimated $47.1 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2017, according to Kantar Media. According to estimates from consultancy R3, the client spends $80 million in media globally.

Martin seems to be picking up steam after the high-profile departure of its chief creative officer Joe Alexander in December 2017, which followed an internal investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment. The shop named MullenLowe's Kristen Cavallo as CEO shortly after. (In December 2018, Refinery29 published an in-depth profile on "What Happened After Women Took Over The Martin Agency.")

In November, the shop also picked up the creative business for Buffalo Wild Wings as the restaurant chain plans a brand relaunch in 2019.

"We have a lot of momentum," Cavallo tells Ad Age. "I think that being able to manage during a time of crisis has been a gift in many respects. It's given us not only a real purpose to what we do, but also permission to act with impatience."

She says she believes she's seeing a correlation between some internal cultural changes the agency has made and the agency's business results.

As for winning back UPS, she says, "I think together we did some of the most celebrated work they, and we, have ever done. To have them bring that business back, I can't even describe how good and confident that made the agency feel in our own abilities."

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