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Omnicom officially launches “Unlimited,” its dedicated McDonald’s agency


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

November 17, 2016 | 5 min read

The Golden Arches are officially getting personal attention as of today. Omnicom has officially launched "We Are Unlimited," the name of its full-service agency dedicated to handling McDonald's US advertising business.

Credit: Omnicom

• Pictured Left to Right - Brian Nienhaus, Chief Executive Officer; Chip Knicker, Chief Digital Officer; Graceann Bennett, Chief

The launch comes nearly three months after McDonald's chose Omnicom to handle its creative account in the US following a months-long review that pitted the holding company against rival Publicis. After the win, Omnicom was tasked with creating an "agency of the future" for the fast food chain, the result being We Are Unlimited.

The agency will be referred to as Unlimited and it will integrate strategic, creative and analytical capabilities to deliver across all communications touch points, from online to mass, in-restaurant and intercompany. The agency also includes embedded teams from The Marketing Store (TMS), Facebook, Google, Twitter, Adobe, the T Brand Studio of The New York Times and others.

Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer of McDonald’s, commented: “Whether it’s a social post, an anthemic film or in-restaurant messaging, we are confident that analytically inspired, creatively-driven thinking and work from Unlimited will help shape McDonald’s marketing in completely new ways to break new ground and fuel increased business impact.”

Unlimited will be led by BBDO’s Brian Nienhaus, who will serve as CEO for the Chicago-based agency of over 200 brand practitioners. He will report directly to Wendy Clark, DDB North America CEO.

“Brian’s experience leading integrated teams that span digital, social, sponsorships and traditional advertising working across multiple Omnicom sister agencies, many of whom are part of Unlimited, has uniquely qualified him to take the reins as CEO of this agency,” said Clark.

Nienhaus comes to Unlimited from Omnicom’s BBDO New York, where he led the AT&T corporate brand and business solutions accounts. Prior to that, he led Team Sprint, a multi-agency, data-led integrated team devoted to Sprint communications at Digitas Chicago. Earlier in his career, he spent six years with Cramer-Krasselt leading varied accounts, including Hilton, Hyatt, Zantac, Glaxo, Merck and Under Armour.

“I’m incredibly honored to assume a leadership role in changing the way agencies deliver client solutions. To do so in partnership with McDonald’s, one of the world’s most iconic brands, and the stellar team we’ve brought together, is both exciting and humbling,” said Nienhaus.

The leadership team at Unlimited also includes John Hansa, executive creative director; Graceann Bennett, chief strategy officer; Chip Knicker, chief digital officer; Jon Ellis, chief production officer; Linda Poe, chief financial officer; and Ursula Ostrom, senior vice president and group director.

Hansa joins the agency from Leo Burnett Chicago, where he was responsible for running the creative portion of the McDonald's business. He brings over 27 years of award-winning advertising experience on a variety of blue-chip accounts.

Bennett has led brand strategy at four major global advertising agencies, including Ogilvy. She has stewarded successful integrated creative campaigns for Dove, Volkswagen, Guinness, Wonderbra, and even a world religion.

Knicker joins Unlimited from Accenture, where he managed their North American ecommerce practice. During this time, he managed the ecommerce delivery organization from client delivery, staffing, recruiting, and people management perspectives.

Ellis has over 20 years of experience working in digital, new media, and traditional broadcast production. He joins Unlimited from DDB, where he served as executive integrated producer, creating integrated campaigns for brands including Capital One, State Farm, Wrigley, and McDonald’s.

Poe spent nine years with Element 79, an Omnicom agency, as the company’s Controller. She joins Unlimited from Fathom Communications, where she has been the agency’s CFO.

Ostrom will be embedded in Unlimited from The Marketing Store (TMS), where she served as senior vice president, account director. Her 15-plus years of expertise has crossed multiple industries with a diverse list of clients including McDonald's, Disney, Bayer and Alberto Culver.

Nienhaus said: “Along with these key executives, we have hired dozens of associates and are well on our way to being fully staffed by January 1, 2017.”


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