"Certainly the content play put us in the consideration set for
lots of business with new and existing clients," said Weber
Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky.
One of those clients, Novartis, tapped Weber a
few years ago for traditional PR tasks like media tours and
relations to support Excedrin's relaunch. Over time, the shop added
digital and content duties.
"We were struggling with our digital agency. We didn't have
someone doing social or doing anything we liked," said Ernesto
Levy, VP-marketing for Novartis, Americas. "In 2013, they became
our digital, social and PR agency of record, helping us reposition
our entire digital marketing plan from a banner-ad-centric program
to a content-centric effort. There was a seamless blending of PR,
social and content activity."
The shop helped generate content (articles about holiday
headaches during Christmas or social video from an ad shoot with
spokeswoman Jordin Sparks, for example) to drive traffic to the
Excedrin website, a combination of earned and paid distribution
along with separate social advertising.
"The thing I was impressed most with was their analytics," said
Mr. Levy. "The promise of digital is I'm able to execute something
and within a week I read what's working and what's not and optimize
on the fly." The effort has led to a "drastic" increase in traffic
to the site and improved Excedrin's search results. "All of the key
metrics as they relate to digital" have improved, he said.
This year, he is expanding Weber's portfolio to include
additional Novartis brands.
The shop owes much of its success with clients like Novartis to
its recent investment in data and analytics, often through data
partnerships within its parent company, Interpublic. "We've seen
the data sets our sister shops have access to," Weber Shandwick
President Gail Heimann told Ad Age earlier last year. "Being
successful requires deep knowledge of content-consumption
Data is also informing creative. On the heels of the
Barbie-Sports Illustrated success, the shop tapped a documentarian
to go around the world and string together videos celebrating New
Year babies based on an insight that there's universal excitement
around New Year births. Fisher Price's "Best Possible Start"
campaign launched online Jan. 1 and within days garnered 5 million
"We've engendered the kind of trust to get clients to move with
us in new areas, be it digital builds, advertising or content
creation," said Ms. Heimann. "More clients are asking us to be
strategic and creative stewards. That's where we've seen a lot of
Perhaps one of the most-ambitious projects Weber took on in 2014
was one of its own. The agency launched Sawmill, a full-blown
creative shop born from the revamp of Weber's D.C.-based advocacy
group Sawyer Miller. The launch of Sawmill followed the creation of
Mediaco, a custom-publishing service formed in 2013 to help clients
generate content and build publishing platforms.
In 2014, Mediaco got a facelift with new backend technology that
helps clients create content-management systems, as well as greater
investment in in-house talent. This year, the agency expanded its
content hubs through its Mediaco group to a number of offices in
Content ambitions were also buoyed by the shop's new strategic
partnership with Niche, a company that connects social influencers