News | April 5th 2021

Ad Age | Stagwell Group Wins The Atlantic Broadband Business

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Originally published in Ad Age by Judann Pollack

Stagwell Group has brought on the country’s eighth-largest cable and internet provider, Atlantic Broadband, after a competitive pitch and will service the account across five of its agencies: Kettle as creative agency of record; ForwardPMX as AOR media; Rhythm for web marketing; Wye Communications for PR, and HarrisX for research.

The win is significant for Stagwell, which is in the process of merging with MDC Partners, as clients increasingly seek cross-disciplinary solutions such as Publicis Groupe’s “The Power of One” or Interpublic Group of Cos.’ “Open Architecture.” While the Top 5 holding companies have been touting massive accounts wins such as WPP’s retention of the Walgreens Boots Alliance and Publicis’ recent conquest of Nissan’s Infiniti, Stagwell has been quietly making progress selling clients on its cross-agency capabilities, albeit with smaller spenders like Atlantic Broadband, which is estimated to spend $10 million on overall media. Earlier this month, the company also picked up ConEd, which will work with two shops, Stagwell’s Code and Theory and MDC’s Assembly.

Julie Sullivan, VP of marketing for Atlantic Broadband, said she worked with an independent consultant on the review, which was narrowed to four contenders. “I don’t want larger agencies to pitch for a couple of reasons,” says Sullivan. “We don’t have the budgets, but even if I did, over my career I have worked with a good handful of [big shops]—and not to disparage the work they do—it’s often a phenomenal dog-and-pony show and when you get to the end of the day, you have a very different team working on the business,” she says. “I wanted a team that is big enough to handle our needs, but small enough that the people in the pitch are going to be working on my business.”

Sullivan, a former agency exec who joined Atlantic Broadband two-and-a-half years ago, says that her task was to integrate marketing within her own organization—which involved rethinking its own structure and eliminating some redundancies—as well as bring on a partner that could help it go to market with one voice. “Clients today are looking for something different than the old agency model,” says Sullivan. “We needed an agency customized to our needs.”

Previously, the cable and internet provider had parceled out b-to-b marketing, b-to-c marketing, PR and social to four unaligned shops. It was “inefficient to have four different versions of a strategic brief for a brand of our size,” says Sullivan. That created a “really splintered experience in the market.”

The goal is to make Atlantic Broadband “a customer-first, customer-centric company, and that is not always the case in the cable industry,” says Sullivan with real understatement.

Rather than create a bespoke agency, Stagwell will be servicing the account with a team formed of members from the five shops and headed by a central point person. Erica Swerdlow, CEO, WyeComm, says that the structure allows Stagwell-owned agencies to collaborate rather than compete for their share of the P&L.

“These are collaborative rather than competitive agencies, and we’re not having internal battles across the Group.” says Beth Sidhu, chief marketing and operating officer of Stagwell Group. “Everyone is incentivized on the same metric.”

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