Can Agencies In Blue States Relate To Shoppers In Trump’s America?

Do the coastal elites who work in Manhattan and L.A. ad agencies truly understand what motivates the people in the middle of the nation to buy hamburgers, life insurance policies, and pickup trucks? Clearly, the best of them do. Carl’s Jr., for instance, runs sexist ads made by award-winning creatives from 72andsunny in Southern California. […]

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barrettSF Names 3 New Associate Partners

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Independent Bay Area agency barrettSF has promoted three recent hires to associate partner status.

Director of brand strategy Jillian Davis, creative director Todd Eisner and head of production Conor Duignan officially got the designation today, said founder and ECD Jamie Barrett in a release.

Davis arrived at barrettSF in the summer of 2015 after working in strategy roles at Minneapolis shop mono and San Francisco design firm office. Both Eisner and Duignan are veterans of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; the former was an ACD there before moving to Argonaut while the latter spent nearly a decade with GS&P as a broadcast producer.

Eisner came to barrettSF just over a year ago and went on to lead creative for clients including  WWE 2K, Mafia 2K, Yellow Pages and Rubio’s Restaurants. Duignan joined last June and now works across all the agency’s accounts.

“Hiring Jillian, Conor and Todd were three of the best decisions we’ve ever made,” said Jamie Barrett in a statement. They’ve made us better in every way, and we couldn’t imagine a future without them. Patrick Kelly, Molly Warner and I are honored to call them our partners.”

Warner became an associate partner last April. The agency’s three core partners include Barrett, Kelly and ECD Pete Harvey, who also came aboard from GS&P in 2013.

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TBWAChiatDay Has Some ‘Candid Conversations’ About Being Black in Advertising

TBWA’s internal media unit Backslash recently rolled out a short video addressing the issue of being black in the notably diversity-challenged advertising industry, entitled “Candid Conversations: Black in Advertising.”

The video caps off a Black History Month which also saw Havas Chicago’s “#BlackAtWork” obstacle course tackling the same topic.

“Candid Conversations” spotlights creatives at TBWA and other agencies, as well as Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall, who described himself as “the only brown face” at McCann Erickson in 1990. Creatives express the unique challenges of being black in the advertising industry and the importance of diversity in advertising. TBWAChiatDay junior strategist Jasmine Spraglin also cites the lack of diversity in the ads she saw on TV growing up as one of the reasons she joined the industry in the first place. One of the more appalling anecdotes of racism in the industry comes from chief creative officer Vida Cornelius, who recalls a CMO addressing her shorts and t-shirt clad junior creatives as if they were her bosses.

At one point, shortly after Mildenhall appears onscreen, the camera briefly focuses on a certain industry blog’s post about Mildenhall calling out the lack of diversity in the Cannes Lions Festival’s jury president selections. Thanks, guys.

It’s hard to imagine anyone, barring the willfully ignorant, completely blind to the diversity issues in advertising, Backslash here provides a good perspective on the issue from the creatives and other industry professionals who know it better than anyone. The video was circulated through TBWA’s global network last week and screened at TBWAChiatDay’s Los Angeles office.

“We felt that, for Black History Month, it was important to think about African American culture as it relates to advertising,” TBWA Worldwide chief strategy officer Nick Barham told Adweek.

“There are conversations that people of color in advertising have when they’re by themselves, and I wanted people to hear that,” added Backslash content director Chay Lee. “Change comes from people having conversations. Once you’re on the radar, anything can happen.”

CREDITS

Content Director: Chay Lee
Executive Producer: Nick Barham
DP & Editor: Andrew Nethery
Associate Producer: Aeden Keffelew
Junior Editor: Pat McGuinness
Production Coordinator: Liz Alexander
Graphics: Kevin Reid

The Ad Council Turns to Jack Morton Worldwide for Social Media, Content and Community Management

Jack Morton Worldwide won an assignment from the Ad Council to work on social media, content and community management for “Love Has No Labels,” the bias and diversity PSA campaign it launched with R/GA in 2015, following a formal review.

“We’re happy to be supporting the Ad Council and encouraging people to rethink bias across race, gender [and other areas],” Jack Morton vice president, senior account director Alicia Durfree told AgencySpy. “We’ll be working with them on furthering social media strategy and providing great content.”

Durfree added that the team at Jack Morton were already fans of the “Love Has No Labels” campaign, which she called “a great fit from both a personal and agency standpoint.”

“The whole team is proud to support it and feels passionate about the cause,” she said, adding that it coincides with IPG’s own diversity initiatives.

Presently, Jack Morton will be focused on supporting distribution for the “Fans of Love” effort R/GA and the Ad Council rolled out for Valentine’s Day. The agency currently has “Fans of Love” content planned through March and will gauge further efforts based on audience reaction. Following the conclusion of the “Fans of Love” effort, the assignment will be more open ended, with Jack Morton collaborating with the Ad Council and R/GA on social media strategy and content, as well as community management.

Havas Chicago Created a #BlackAtWork Obstacle Course for Black History Month

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Havas Chicago tackles the everyday racism of a typical agency workplace with its #BlackAtWork “jobstacle course” for Black History Month.

“I love reading these articles about how white and old the industry is, and the industry itself acknowledges and talks about the problem versus actually changing and activating on the kind of issues we have,” Havas Chicago chief creative officer Jason Peterson told Adweek. “In my point of view, America is multicultural, so if you’re an agency that doesn’t have or isn’t made up of a multicultural point of view, there’s no way you can do your job properly.”

So Peterson turned to art director Jason LaFlore and other creatives in Chicago to come up with a Black History Month project that would “show our point of view and not be passive and have a real active positioning.”

The initiative addresses not the overt racism of, say, an agency CEO comparing black people and Guatemalans to monkeys, but rather the subtler forms of racism which nonetheless make navigating the workplace environment an added challenge for black employees. Located in the lobby of Havas Chicago’s building, the obstacle course is meant to make it clear how subtle forms of racism can make the job more difficult while also addressing the lack of diversity in the advertising industry (and the connection between the latter and the prevalence of the former). The obstacle course will remain up for the remainder of the month.black-at-work-sound-450-2017

Phrases showing the kind of passive and not-so-passive racism black employees might face like “That’s so ghetto,” “Can you teach me to Dougie?” and “You don’t sound black” force visitors to dodge out of their path in one exhibit. (Side note: remember this?)

A “Beam of Perception,” meanwhile, challenges participants to walk a fine line on a balance beam between “Angry” and “Lazy” without falling over.

Now imagine doing that every day.

“If you’re too nonchalant about your job, you’re automatically seen as lazy,” LaFlore told Adweek. “If you’re too passionate about your job, you might be seen as the angry black man or the angry black woman.”black-at-work-havas-PAGE-2017

TBWA Worldwide Bought a Majority Stake in London’s Lucky Generals

Omnicom agency TBWA Worldwide purchased a majority stake in independent U.K. agency Lucky Generals, finalizing a deal proposed last month.

TBWA declined to specify about its stake in the agency and any financial details about the transaction.

Following the acquisition, TBWA will form a new TBWA U.K. Group, consisting of TBWALondon and Lucky Generals, which will continue to operate as separate agencies under the same group. Lucky Generals founders Helen Calcraft, Andy Nairn and Danny Brooke-Taylor will remain in their current leadership roles at the agency.

“Lucky Generals’ vision, a creative company for people on a mission, is completely aligned with our own: a radically open creative collective,” TBWA Worldwide president and CEO Troy Ruhanen said in a statement. “They are relentlessly creative and innovative, with a focus on disruptive work, platforms and businesses. What Helen, Andy, Danny and their teams have built in a short period of time is remarkable. I cannot think of a better addition to the family.”

“We have been fortunate enough to have had conversations with many international groups, but Omnicom and TBWA Worldwide were the only ones to understand our desire for autonomy — perhaps because entrepreneurialism, disruption and creativity are hardwired into their DNA,” added Calcraft. We already feel like we’ve established a great personal connection with the team. This deal will allow us to preserve our unique culture, build our brand and grow. Most important, with the support of Omnicom and TBWA, we will be able to better deliver on our clients’ needs in the UK and around the globe.”

Lucky Generals’ currently employs less than 50 and works with such clients as Amazon, Unilever, Pot Noodle and Paddy Power, according to its homepage and LinkedIn profile.

Did You Know That CMD Is Portland’s Largest Integrated Marketing Firm?

CMD is a Portland stalwart. The shop opened its doors in 1978 as a provider of slide shows and filmstrips for business meetings and other corporate presentations. Today, the agency is one of the largest in Stump Town, employing more than 170 people and pulling in millions of dollars in revenue each year. Interestingly, CMD […]

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Content Studios Increasingly Borne of the Agency’s Rib

Content marketing has been around since John Deere started a magazine for farmers in the late 19th century. For the past 10 to 12 years, the discipline has come back with a furry, as digital reawakened the opportunity in long-form brand and multi-platform storytelling. The changes have been disruptive, and many clients and agencies continue […]

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Consciousness Comes To Carvertising

European luxury wagons are not just personal transporters to efficiently and safely get you to and from work—they’re $45,000 sleds that you can ride to freedom. Volvo’s agency, Forsman & Bodenfors, went deep into the archive for this Alan Watts speech: There is no use planning for a future which when you get to it […]

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The Richards Group Keeps 7UP In the Mix

In a play for new customers, The Uncola is mixing it up with Sir Mix-a-Lot and 2 Chainz. The Dr. Pepper-owned brand is also making a strong play to be the mixer of choice for fans of adult beverages. It’s an interesting twist to take a back seat to spirits, and one that could pay […]

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Global Restructuring at TBWAMedia Arts Lab as Apple Shifts Toward Digital, Regional Work

This week Apple made some changes to its longstanding relationship with dedicated agency TBWAMedia Arts Lab.

According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the matter, this amounts to a global pivot toward digital and regionally-focused work rather than a complete overhaul of the partnership. It did, however, involve a general spending cut that led to layoffs at Media Arts Lab offices in L.A. and abroad.

MAL will continue to work on the business, though Apple has produced more of its brand campaigns in-house since 2014, when a series of emails between the agency and client SVP of marketing Phil Schiller came to light.

An MAL spokesperson released the following statement:

“TBWAMedia Arts Lab is reorganizing and introducing a new operating model to keep pace with the way people consume media and content. This will result in a reduction in areas such as localization and further investment in areas such as digital, social, data analytics, content creation and a more diverse set of strategic skills. We will also have greater integration with media partners at OMD.”

Apple representatives declined to comment, and former Grey CCO/current VP of marketing communications Tor Myhren has not yet responded to our email.

The scale of the headcount reduction is unclear at this time. But sources close to the matter say that the “translation and transcreation” departments were most affected because, as noted in the statement above, Apple plans to create more regionally-targeted efforts rather than translating its larger brand campaigns for local consumers around the world.

Here, for example, is a new campaign from TBWA Brazil that launched this week.

According to the same sources, MAL is currently hiring for certain teams, especially on the digital front—despite the fact that some creatives laid off this week have begun interviewing at other area agencies.

In keeping with that digital shift, expect more :15s created to air on Facebook or Instagram and fewer big-story TV spots.

In other MAL news, the FOR GOOD division launched by Lee Clow to focus on purpose-driven work has moved into the TBWAChiatDay L.A. offices.

Former MAL CCO Duncan Milner took over that unit late last year as Brent Anderson was promoted to run the Apple business around the world.

BBDO and Mars Dig Into Crowdsourced Content With Flare Studio Launch

In case you had any doubt, the crowdsourcing trend is here to stay.

Today BBDO’s London office announced the launch of Flare Studio, a unit that will be dedicated to “meet[ing] the rising demand for diverse and authentic video content for an online audience.” AMV BBDO will lead the project along with client Mars’ Petcare division.

In a statement, Mars Petcare’s global CMO Leonid Sudakov said: “We are very pleased to be partnering with BBDO to contribute to a massive transformation of content production.  Flare Studio will give Mars unprecedented access to a global pool of creative talent and we are excited about the unique ideas that this crowdsourcing collaboration will generate.”

Cool. But what does this mean, exactly?

Flare Studio is essentially a marketplace/platform for freelancers, directors, prod cos and, of course, “influencers” to “compete for briefs posted on behalf of BBDO agencies and their clients.” And it’s a tiered model, meaning you can pay to play.

The homepage makes it all seem so simple.

flare studio

The project isn’t technically new. It’s an extension of AMV BBDO’s in-house content arm, which launched two years ago and now collaborates with 12 of the network’s offices.

Flare founder and AMV BBDO head of content Nick Price offered this statement:

“Flare Studio is a bold undertaking – bringing the benefits of the crowd but also injecting it with the right amount of agency know how to make sure the work reflects an understanding of our brands and can work for them within the crowd source model.  That’s a very different approach from anything else in the market.”

In this case, then, “crowdsourcing” is less of an Airbnb-style “send us your ideas for a chance to win $500” project than a streamlining of the pitch process via a digital platform owned by the BBDO network.

The implication is that BBDO creatives will ultimately work on all resulting campaigns and that many of the parties who provide the winning work will not be amateurs with iPhone cameras but advertising professionals and people who make their livings on social media. In other words, your jobs will not be outsourced … for now.

In order to get the whole thing off the ground, AMV BBDO and Mars are partnering with U.K.-based National Film and Television School and offering two $30,000 scholarships to launch “The Flare Foundation.” So it’s a public service, too.

Droga5 Adds The New York Times to Its Client Roster

Droga5’s newest client is The Paper of Record: our own hometown New York Times.

NYT reps told us today that they would not be able to help us in our search for more information regarding the relationship between the two, and Droga5 declined to comment.

But we can confirm, via multiple sources, that the agency has been working with The Grey Lady’s marketing department on a project basis. The nature of the work is not clear, but we hear that it ties into the paper’s larger strategic goals.

That almost certainly translates into increasing the NYT’s subscriber base and appealing to younger, more diverse audiences while maintaining its position as the dominant news brand in an increasingly splintered digital media ecosystem.

Last October, the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post surpassed the New York Times in overall web traffic for the first time; as the latter org’s Lydia Polgreen put in a tweet at the time, “Meet America’s new paper of record.” The same month, the Times’ editorial staff sent out a 12-page internal memo titled “Our Path Forward” and announced a very ambitious plan: doubling digital revenues over the next five years.

The Times’ digital subscriptions have been growing as print advertising dollars dwindle, but it may struggle to reach the aforementioned revenue goal. A September Digiday report noted the NYT’s plans to localize its editorial and marketing efforts and the challenges it faces in both expanding its global audience and attracting international advertisers that have traditionally worked with local publications.

Droga5’s first work for The New York Times should debut at some point in the coming months.

We would also note that this development has nothing to do with a May Style piece that cast Droga5 employees as a self-contained fashion show in what should forever serve as a case study in PR mastery.

Philadelphia’s Bluecadet Launches a New York Office

Philadelphia-based digital agency Bluecadet, which specializes in museum and non-profit clients, launched a New York office. Lillian Preston will serve as managing director of the office, with Brett Renfer holding the role of creative director and Ben Bojko serving as the office’s creative technology director.

The trio has been working with Bluecadet in Philadelphia for the past six months or so, AdAge reports, on projects for clients including the New York Public Library, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Preston joined Bluecadet as an executive producer last November, following eight months as director, ITP Innovation Lab at NYU. Before that she spent nearly four and a half years with Ralph Appelbaum Associates in New York, as a senior producer and then head of production. While with RAA, she worked on projects including the 2012 London Olympic Gardens and IBM THINK Exhibit at Lincoln Center and EPCOT. She is also currently an adjunct professor for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts – Interactive Telecommunications Program.
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Renfer joined Bluecadet in May after nearly two and a half years as director, experience design for New York-based brand consultancy Collins. Prior to joining Collins he spent nearly six years as a senior technologist for architecture and design firm Rockwell Group, tasked with conceptualizing and designing temporary architectural scale interactive environments as part of Rockwell Group’s Interaction Lab. Before Rockwell Group he spent two years as an interactive designer with Georgia agency Terrance Sullivan.
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Bojko joined Bluecadet as a creative developer last December, following a year and a half as a senior developer with design studio potion. Prior to potion he spent nearly four and a half years at Big Spaceship, working his way up from technologist to associate technical director, spending a year in the latter position before leaving for potion.

Project Acquires Independent New York-Based Agency Wondersauce

Independent global agency network Project (formerly Project Worldwide) acquired New York-based agency, Wondersauce, which also has offices in Detroit, bringing the network’s total number of agencies to 14. Other agencies in the network include Argonaut, Partners + Napier and Pitch.

“We launched the company with the vision that we could create an awesome services company that was all about great customer service for our clients and making partnerships feel special,” John Sampogna, founder and managing director for Wondersauce, told Adweek.

Wondersauce currently has nearly 100 employees and works with clients including Google, A-B InBev, Nike, HBO and The Gap. Going forward, it looks to expand as part of Project, while bringing its digital and ecommerce capabilities to the network.

“We can’t wait to introduce these guys to many of our existing clients because our clients have been hungry for the things they’ve been doing for so long,” Project senior vice president, marketing and communications Brian Martin said. “They have a great client roster that some of our agencies can add value to as well.”

2 Veteran DDB Creatives Leaving to Launch New Boutique Shop Highdive

Mark Gross and Chad Broude, both longtime veterans of DDB Chicago, recently announced their plans to leave that agency and launch their own boutique unit called Highdive. Wednesday will be their last day at DDB.

The operation, which will be based in downtown Chicago, has already received project-based assignments from several clients including Google-owned smart home company Nest, online tuxedo rental company Xedo and Jawzone, a forthcoming “social powered online destination for sports related conversation and debate.”

Gross has spent the majority of his career (22 years) with DDB Chicago and ran creative on some of the office’s biggest accounts including Capital One, Cars.com, Bud Light and Mars-Wrigley. He tells us that he’s probably best known for the late-’90s “Real Men of Genius” campaign for Bud.

Broude spent 8 years as a copywriter and creative director at the office, where he worked on many of the same accounts: State Farm, Skittles, Lifelock and Capital One. His work has won various awards, and he has played a key role in such recent campaigns as the State Farm relaunch, the Capital One series starring Charles Barkley and the Steven Tyler Skittles spot from last year’s Super Bowl.

“It’s always been a dream of ours to run our own creatively led shop … that’s about good creative and fewer layers,” Gross says in explaining the pair’s decision to break off from DDB. Broude adds, “As more work goes project-based and budgets get tighter, it’s more important that every dollar goes to good creative. Going independent is a better way to do that.” He says that a boutique operation like theirs is “more equipped to handle some of the project work.”

We’ve encountered variations on that line quite a bit in recent months: examples include Boulder’s Work in Progress, Miami’s Markham & Stein, New York’s Joan, San Francisco’s Partners in Crime, Erich & Kallman and many others that we should now apologize for not remembering.

Regarding this trend, Broude says, “You’re seeing the shift [to smaller independent agencies] more and more because there less of a barrier to entry. You don’t have to win the whole piece of business to get on a client’s agency roster.”

Gross thinks the Windy City could use some boutiques of its own: “Over the past few years the perception seems to be that the majority of great advertising is coming out of the East and West coasts. We plan on changing that by building an award-winning boutique right here in Chicago.”

The name Highdive was inspired by the concept of taking a great risk, either through executing a difficult physical feat or attempting to make great advertising. The agency does not yet have work ready to share publicly, but Gross tells us his operation’s first campaign will go live soon.

For the time being, Gross and Broude are Highdive’s only full-time employees, but like many other such operations they are drawing on a pool of freelance talent. Gross says that the idea is to choose the strategist and/or account person best fit to a given client, adding that this also helps the team develop a more diverse group of partners and to “Build the perfect team for the perfect assignment.”

“Advertising has always been a challenging industry with a lot of client turnover. That’s what scares people,” Gross says when asked about the most difficult things facing his new operation. “Obviously the financial part of taking a risk on any business and building it is a daunting task. Our goal is to build client relationships … growth is our biggest challenge.”

Eventually, Highdive seeks to turn some of these relationships into agency of record agreements. For now it will focus on project-based assignments for clients centered on ecommerce and various other online services.

Anomaly CEO Wants Clients to Pay His Agency More Money

So how is Advertising Week 2016 going for all you guys? Oh right, it’s just another week in the office. But then at least you don’t have to race back and forth from one Times Square-area location to another to catch all the humblebrags.

We didn’t really catch anyone discussing the pay for performance issue so far, but AdAge did catch up to Anomaly CEO Carl Johnson, who said he’s OK with the trend because it will inevitably lead to Anomaly getting paid more than everyone else.

But first, watch this ad.

So that was a logically consistent argument that other agencies simply don’t want to risk the fact that their work might not measure up to specific client goals over which they have no direct control.

Bit harder to do that when you have a holding company and that company’s investors to answer to, especially given the often slim profit margins at mid-sized agencies that still make professionally produced ads and incur all related costs.

But maybe MDC Partners does things a little differently.

We Hear: Ogilvy to Operate Under One P&L for All North American Offices

Publicis Communications recently raised some eyebrows with the latest step in its ongoing effort to remove as many of the dreaded “silos” as possible by arranging its agencies’ P&L (profit and loss) reports by country rather than by network.

This means, for example, that all of Publicis creative entities in the U.K. report to Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Robert Senior, acting in his capacity as a leader of the Communications group in that country rather than his role atop the Saatchi organization.

And it’s not just Publicis.

On September 15, sources tell us that Ogilvy & Mather global CEO John Seifert, who was named Miles Young’s successor back in January, sent out an all-staff memo essentially announcing that his agency would begin doing the same thing.

In what amounted to his formal introduction after assuming the roles of global CEO and chairman of the WPP shop at the beginning of this month, Seifert praised Young’s work and expressed optimism about the future of the Ogilvy brand while announcing that it would, moving forward, operate as one interlocking network in North America with all offices across disciplines (creative, media, PR, etc.) moving to the single P&L model.

As is the case with Publicis, it’s not quite clear at the moment how this shift will affect Ogilvy agencies in terms of day to day operations, and we do not currently know who will lead the North American entity.

But Seifert acknowledged in his memo that change — especially on this scale — can often be difficult, implying that the consolidation could lead to some trimming of the operational fat across Ogilvy’s many North American offices.

The general consensus among our tipsters holds that Seifert, like Arthur Sadoun at Publicis, is trying to “shake up” a model seen as staid and even antiquated. Arranging offices and teams by continent would theoretically allow for greater collaboration and ability to attend to specific clients — a sentiment that recalls talk surrounding the creation of Omnicom’s as-yet-unnamed McDonald’s unit in Chicago.

Ogilvy employees, however, still have some key questions. Chief among them: Who will be in charge? How will the resulting hierarchy operate, and how will the inevitable wins and losses be distributed?

Porsche Names Miami’s Markham & Stein as Its Agency of Record for Latin America

Markham & Stein, the Miami agency launched by two CP+B veterans back in May, has posted its first headlining account win by picking up Latin American agency of record duties for Porsche after a creative review.

This means that the shop will handle the luxury auto brand’s integrated  marketing work for 17 importers in 23 countries across Latin American and the Caribbean. Cramer-Krasselt has been Porsche’s creative AOR since 2007, beating out McKinney, CP+B and Droga5 in a 2013 review to retain the business. Agency principals Markham Cronin and Jeff Steinhour both worked on Porsche while at C-E, with Cronin as a creative director and Steinhour on accounts. They also handled Mercedes Benz, MINI and VW work during their tenures at CP+B.

The review was the end result of an effort by Porsche to reorganize its promotional operations in Latin America by centering all related efforts in Miami.

Sebastian Hölzel, director of marketing for Porsche Latin America, said: “We were looking for a smaller, more nimble agency partner with global brand experience to support us in further strengthening the Porsche brand experience in our region – Latin America and the Caribbean.”

“As a life-long Porsche enthusiast, I am thrilled to get this opportunity to work on the iconic Porsche brand with Sebastian and his team,” said Cronin in a statement. “We can’t wait to get started.”

Interestingly, Markham & Stein was the only agency in the review that does not identify as Hispanic. It does, however, employ many Latino Americans in Miami and also has operations in Puerto Rico. Other agencies in the pitch included Omnicom’s Alma and GrupoUno, which had been Latin American AOR on the brand since winning a 2003 review.

The agency has already begun work on planning and initial projects, with its debut campaigns set to launch over the next few months.

Markham & Stein named its first global client, Mercury Marine, when announcing its launch back in May. To date, the team has also produced a variety of work for companies such as pizza chain Mellow Mushroom, Popcorn Indiana and Oriental Bank.

MUH-TAY-ZIK|HOF-FER to Open New York Office Run by Nick Johnson

MUH-TAY-ZIK|HOF-FER, the formerly independent agency that was acquired by VCCP in May, has opened a new operation in New York City and hired Nick Johnson, founder of The Incite Group, to run it.

This news is not a revelation: In a May Adweek piece, ECD and co-founder John Matejczyk stated that he planned to open a Manhattan location with the backing of London-based VCCP. The story also noted that the two agencies “plan to eventually enter the South American and Asian markets,” though it did not specify how, exactly, that might come about.

We’ve been in touch with MUH-TAY-ZIK’s PR team about this development since August, but they have so far declined to comment directly. Multiple sources, however, confirmed that Johnson will oversee the office and serve as president, and it seems that his title will apply across the entire organization since the agency does not currently list anyone in that position.

Various sources tell us that the New York operation remains small at this time, with a staff in the single digits. The creative department has yet to expand to Manhattan, which is primarily focused on new business. Details regarding the MUH-TAY-ZIK|HOF-FER New York location are currently unavailable, and it’s not clear whether the lease has been finalized. But we do know that the team itself has been working in an alternate space.

If the New York office ever resembles the agency’s San Francisco headquarters, there will be lots of white.

Johnson worked at various marketing companies in the U.K. before founding The Incite Group, which describes itself as “A global intelligence company” that handles both paid and earned media (social, email marketing, advertising, PR) and produces “Conferences, reports and analysis on how to engage your customers and drive sales,” in 2013. It’s not clear at this time whether he will play any role at Incite moving forward.

Some small changes occurred in the San Francisco office of MUH-TAY-ZIK|HOF-FER prior to the New York move, with former AdAge journalist Maureen Morrison joining the shop in a content-focused role and a very small number of employees let go due to changes in the agency’s relationships with clients Netflix and SoFi, which moved toward more project-based work.

Updates as we get them. At the very least, expect MUH-TAY-ZIK|HOF-FER to begin more aggressively pitching new business in Manhattan in the months to come.