Publicis creates new agency after winning global Mercedes-Benz brief

Mercedes-Benz appoints Publicis

Publicis has been appointed as the global network and digital agency for Mercedes-Benz following a six-month pitch against incumbent BBDO, part of Omnicom Group.

Dubbing it one of the holding company’s most “significant wins”, chief executive Arthur Sadoun said it has opened a new agency in Berlin that will service the account across 40 markets.

In an email to staff, seen by The Drum, Sadoun said the agency will be called Publicis Emil after Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler's “original transformation partner”, Emil Jellinek who created the auto brand.

It will be led by Justin Billingsley, chief operating officer for Publicis Communications alongside Maggie Lonergan, who will head up European operations and Claire Molyneux, who will focus on its other global regions, excluding the US, China and Germany, where BBDO retained the account.

Over the coming months, talent will be drawn from its main hubs –Publicis Communications, Publicis Media, Publicis.Sapient, and Publicis One – with a view to it being fully operational for 1 July.

“[It] demonstrates how far we've managed to take our own transformation in a very short space of time,” Sadoun said.

“A win like this would not have been possible if we hadn't begun more than two years ago to radically change the way we work, by breaking down silos, putting our clients at the heart of everything we do, integrating Sapient and developing global initiatives like PeopleCloud and Spine."

From Mercedes, the brief on paper is relatively simple; be better. “Best digital know-how, best systems, best creativity, best consultancy, best condition," Sadoun quoted the VP of marketing, Jens Thiemer, as saying.

Mercedes-Benz, ranked by Interbrand as the world's ninth most valuable in the word and the third highest ad spender in the automotive category, has faced the same pressures as other car makers in trying to keep pace with the changing consumer behaviour that digital has brought.

In 2015 it laid out an ambition to create a fleet of connected cars that would act as "mobile living rooms" while more recently it collaborated with Google Home, the voice-activated personal assistant, to allow people to interact with a car from home.

For Publicis, the win is a significant milestone as it continues to convince advertisers of its 'Power of One' model. The likes of Walmart and HP have been among the few to have subscribed the the promise of integrated marketing at scale since it was announced two years ago. But after an estimated $10bn in media billings was put under review in January alone, the opportunities to prove its value are coming thick and fast.

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