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Agency Business B2B Marketing News

Merkle’s Bob Ray joins MSQ, aims to make it ‘the global leader for B2B marketing’


By Kenneth Hein | US Editor

March 8, 2023 | 4 min read

MSQ B2B and Stein IAS look to the next chapter after B2B legend Rob Morrice announces his retirement.

bob ray

Bob Ray / Credit: MSQ

Merkle B2B, DWA and gyro may not be household agency names. But if you’re a B2B marketer you likely know them well. Especially when it comes Merkle’s data prowess, DWA’s media expertise and gyro’s obsession with “humanly relevant” creative.

Bob Ray who has served in an executive capacity at all three of those agencies will now take all that he’s learned and apply it in his new role of executive chairman of MSQ B2B and global B2B agency Stein IAS.

MSQ is a 1,100-person holding company featuring 11 agencies including Brave Spark, Freemavens, MBStack, MMT, twentysix, Walk-In Media and Stein IAS. Stein IAS is led by Chairman and Chief Brand Officer Tom Stein who is also jury president of the Creative B2B Lions.

Ray and its existing leadership team, which includes executive director Kate Howe (also ex-gyro), MSQ CEO Peter Reid and Stein IAS Chief Client Officer Craig Duxbury, see business-to-business marketing as an area in need of a global agency solution. “B2B is lacking in business marketing architects,” says Ray. “That is what the CMOs and vice-presidents of digital marketing are looking for. They want trusted advisors who will reinvent the way experiences are built that drive predictable outcomes.”

Ray is looking to step up investments at scale and leverage Stein IAS as “an engine room to build B2B capabilities across MSQ agencies to create a complete offering for B2B brands. We have big aspirations from a growth and scale perspective. We want to be the global market leader for business marketing.”

MSQ currently works with Unilever, Vodafone, Lexmark, DoorDash, Coca-Cola and Juniper Networks.

Most recently, Ray was CEO of the Dentsu-owned Merkle B2B, the agency that DWA and gyro were eventually folded into. Ray helped Merkle B2B grow five times in size to a $250m agency in a four-year span.

As Ray enters, B2B trailblazer Rob Morrice is departing. Morrice who had served as CEO of Stein IAS is retiring after 30 years. He said in a statement: “Bob is the right person to take us to this next stage … While I can’t quite believe the time has nearly come to hang up my boots, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and of leaving the agency prepared and poised for its next chapter.”

Ray’s former agency Merkle B2B, meanwhile, made some news of its own yesterday with the acquisition of Shift7.

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