By Ben Bold and Gideon Spanier
Omnicom Group has been awarded the global consolidated media, brand and performance marketing account for Mercedes-Benz, after vying for the business against fellow incumbent Publicis Groupe.
The German automotive giant was looking for a single-agency model to manage its global media and marcoms business, and Omnicom’s triumph is the result of a six-month closed review between the two rival agency groups.
In an unusual move, Omnicom has bought two German-based agencies, digital shop Antoni and PR firm OSK, that already work with the client after they collaborated during the pitch process.
Omnicom, which has made few acquisitions in recent years, said it bought both businesses on the basis that they would “best suit an integrated agency model” for the client.
The new “long-term partnership” between Mercedes-Benz and Omnicom is due to kick off in January 2022, under the moniker “Team X”.
Omnicom already had the majority of the media and marketing scope while Publicis Groupe was focused on creative, digital and CRM.
Mercedes-Benz’s decision will effectively mean the end of Publicis Emil, a bespoke agency unit that Publicis Groupe created in 2018 for the client.
The German car giant’s unified approach to its agency relationships comes in the wake of an internal move to merge its communication and marketing departments, as well as its performance marketing activities into internal hubs based in four regions – Europe, the US, China and “Overseas”.
Mercedes-Benz described the Omnicom deal as “unique in the industry”, saying it would create a “fully integrated, global agency model – from performance content development to media playout and success measurement – which can serve interested parties and customers with relevant information at all contact points of the customer journey”.
Omnicom is adding more than 400 staff with the agency acquisitions. Antoni was launched in 2015, with Mercedes-Benz as its founding client, and employs 170 people. OSK was founded in 1993 and employs 225 staff.
New creative agency concept
Mercedes-Benz revealed that part of the pitch process involved a rethinking of its creative strategy.
“To further develop the brand’s luxury positioning, Mercedes-Benz is also focusing even more on generating brand-defining experiences that lie outside the classic campaign – from events to collaborations,” the company said.
The automotive manufacturer asked both agency groups to come up with “a concept for a fully integrated global creative agency” – “this is intended not only to create a globally consistent brand presence but also to consider the special cultural and social characteristics in the relevant regions”, Mercedes-Benz said.
“Omnicom Group presented a compelling approach, envisioning an integrated and tailor-made agency solution unlocking a holistic view of the consumer across every brand-defining touchpoint, experience and moment along the customer journey. The model combines the ability to further augment desirability for our brand portfolio while using powerful data to identify and capture future demand potentials.”
Omnicom will bring together specialists across different disciplines from its agencies in the United States, Europe and China – as well as from antoni and OSK.
“Consistent customer communication”
Britta Seeger, a member of the board of management of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz responsible for sales, said: “With this decision, Mercedes-Benz is setting the next milestone in consistent customer communication on all channels – online and offline. By bringing together a new, fully integrated unit, Mercedes-Benz is re-orchestrating all of its communication content across all channels to deliver a data-driven, personalised and seamless brand experience for customers at all touchpoints worldwide.
“This is where ‘Team X’ will act as our holistic, fully networked agency partner for globally sustainable, efficient and effective communication. Our goal is to build the most desirable cars in the world – we also want to convey the desirability of our products, as well as our esteem for our customers in every contact with our brand.”
John Wren, chairman and chief executive of Omnicom Group, said: “Mercedes-Benz was looking for a holistic agency partner that could help deploy a sustainable and globally consistent luxury experience for the company’s brand promise around the world for the first time.
“Our newly formed ‘Team X’ delivers on that goal, creating a streamlined global structure with clear single points of contact, as well as innovative data and analytics connected in every layer. We look forward to supporting Mercedes-Benz in a long-term partnership to further increase the desirability of its brand portfolio and pioneer the creation of personalized and highly effective customer communications.”
Mercedes-Benz stressed it ran “a fair and transparent process” that followed guidelines from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and the European Association of Communications Agencies (EACA).
“The agency services presented were assessed according to uniform criteria and collated to form an overall result using a predetermined weighting key. Evidence of, and commitment to, a sustainable business strategy was a relevant part of the selection criteria,” the company said.