Daimler appoints Publicis for global Mercedes-Benz brief

Mercedes-Benz: last year's 'Grow up' campaign, created by custom agency Antoni
Mercedes-Benz: last year's 'Grow up' campaign, created by custom agency Antoni

Daimler has awarded Publicis Groupe the global network and digital agency account for Mercedes-Benz, following a six-month pitch against rival holding groups WPP and Omnicom.

Publicis Groupe is creating a dedicated agency to handle the business, Publicis Emil, named after Emil Jellinek, the automotive magnate credited with pioneering the development of the modern car and introducing the Mercedes brand, named after his daughter.   

The Berlin-based agency will be headed up by former Saatchi & Saatchi executive Justin Billingsley, who moves over from his post as chief operating officer for ‎Publicis Communications in Europe and Latin America, a role he has held since September 2016.

Ex-R/GA and SapientNitro client services director Maggie Lonergan will lead "Region Europe", while Claire Molyneux, previously chief transformation officer at Publicis Communications Europe and client-side marketer at Procter & Gamble, will oversee "Region Overseas".

The account covers 37 international territories, excluding the large US and China markets, many of which were previously handled by Omnicom’s BBDO. Mercedes-Benz USA uses Merkley & Partners as its creative agency of record, while the carmaker will continue to work with BBDO in China.

The new arrangements come into effect on 1 July.

Emil will be staffed with talent from across Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient, and Publicis One. It will also work closely with Mercedes-Benz’s custom agency Antoni, created after the marque’s last global creative agency review in 2014.

Speaking to Campaign last year, Thiemer said the "3+1 agency hub principle" was central to its new global approach.

Announcing three "creative hubs" in Europe, the US and China in 2014, Mercedes-Benz Cars vice president marketing Jens Thiemer said at the time it would develop Antoni in Berlin, to be led by André Kemper and Tonio Kröger.

In a note to staff, Publicis Groupe chief executive Arthur Sadoun said it would "not have been possible" to win such an account before the company’s "Power of One" restructure in 2016.

Sadoun claimed that it has been "without a doubt the biggest pitch in the industry over the past 18 months", and one of Publicis' "most significant wins" in many years.

"More importantly, it is the living proof that the new model we're putting in place, to become the market leaders in marketing and business transformation, is working," he added.

"Our focus of cooperation with the new agency partner is above all on the worldwide digital marketing and communication measures in order to drive forward digital transformation at Mercedes-Benz. Our criteria for this are clear: best digital know-how, best systems, best creativity, best consultancy, best conditions," commented Thiemer.

"Our huge thanks to BBDO Worldwide and in particular to Andrew Robertson and Thilo Schotte personally for eleven years of extremely successful cooperation, which has elevated international marketing at Mercedes-Benz to new heights."

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