Agency Brief: New agencies for chocolate, marathons and ‘Land of the Sky’
Whitman’s Sampler turns 175.  Credit: Russell Stover

I know you’ve all had an exhausting week taking selfies via livestream-enabled beauty mirrors and pondering the various benefits of smart toilets.

I, for one, was smug, rested and far, far away from the action at CES this year. But make sure to catch up with dispatches from our Ad Age contingent on the ground.

Rest up, kick back and catch up on some of the week’s agency news. I’ll see you next week!

Sweet story

Russell Stover is (ahem) hungry for a new creative approach. The chocolate maker hired Cutwater as its agency-of-record after working with VML for less than two years. Cutwater now leads communications work including brand strategy, creative, communications planning and social. “We were seeking an independent agency that is passionate about reinvigorating iconic American brands and making them culturally relevant,” Mark Riegel, VP of marketing at Russell Stover, said in a statement. According to Cutwater Principal and President Christian Hughes, the agency and brand began talking early last year. That led to some project work and, ultimately, being named AOR in late November. VML’s relationship with Russell Stover began in February 2017.

You & Mr Jones & Inside Ideas Group

You & Mr Jones this week announced a majority stake in Inside Idea Group, which helps build in-house marketing teams for its clients and is the parent company of Oliver, Dare, Adjust Your Set and Aylesworth Fleming. You & Mr Jones is a brandtech group founded in June 2015 by former Havas Global CEO David Jones.

A new agency for ‘America’s Happiest City’

North Carolina-based tourism group Explore Asheville has tapped Dentsu Aegis Network’s 360i as its agency of record. The shop will work with the group to drum up national brand awareness for a city also known as “The Land of the Sky.” According to a Mountain Xpress editor tweeting from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority’s monthly meeting, the agency’s monthly fee will be $140,000.


Zehnder Communications is now the agency-of-record for Ironman and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. The shop, which has offices in Louisiana and Nashville, Tennessee, will handle advertising, digital media and research and analytics for the brands.

A three-year layover

Heathrow Airport has tapped WPP’s Wavemaker as its integrated agency partner, handling communications planning and media buying in the U.K. — a three-year contract.

On the move…

Matt James has been named the new global brand president at Zenith. James was formerly the CEO of Publicis Media in Australia. He succeeds Vittorio Bonori, who was recently appointed CEO of Publicis Groupe in Italy.

Chris Hirst, Havas’ CEO in the U.K., has been promoted to be global CEO of Havas Creative.

Fabrice Otaño has been named global chief intelligence officer at Carat, a new role at the agency. Otaño was most recently global chief data officer at AccorHotels.

Jack Perone, who formerly led the planning and analytics group at DDB Chicago, has joined Mass Minority as its chief strategy officer in its Toronto-based head office.

Lindsey Gonnella has been named group strategy director for Rolex Brands at Wunderman Thompson. Prior to joining the shop, she was senior VP and group strategy director at BBDO New York overseeing strategy for ExxonMobil and Macy’s.

Brooklyn-based agency Madwell has tapped Dan Tucker as its first chief financial officer. Tucker was most recently general manager of the Outsource Accounting Services practice at Anchin, a public accounting firm.

Firstborn has promoted Alex Krawitz from senior VP of content development to senior VP and managing director, and promoted Ana Breton from program director to VP of client services.

Contributing: Jessica Wohl

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