News | March 25th 2021

Adweek | Con Edison Names Code and Theory Agency of Record

Screen Shot 2021 03 25 at 11 29 03 AM

Assembly will handle media buying and planning

Originally Published on Adweek by Erik Oster

An electric client win for Code and Theory could shine a light on what the proposed merger of MDC Partners and Stagwell Group could look like.

Con Edison, one of the country’s largest energy companies, has appointed Code and Theory as its agency of record today. Code and Theory will partner with MDC Partners’ Assembly on media buying and planning responsibilities, with the two agencies collaborating closely. Havas was the incumbent on the account.

A focus on clean energy

The agencies will be responsible for working across a number of advertising channels and more direct customer communications, with a focus on Con Edison’s clean energy commitments.

This includes the company’s pledge to triple energy efficiency by 2030 and reach 100% clean energy by 2040, as well as infrastructure investments to counter the effects of climate change, a focus of outward-facing communications. And yes, that does include those energy bills, which the agencies will work to make more consumer-friendly.

Con Edison spent around $10 in media last year, including $3 million in online channels, according to data consultancy COMvergence.

“We look forward to a new partnership with Code and Theory and its sister agency Assembly in serving our customers,” Frances A. Resheske, Con Edison svp, corporate affairs said in a statement.

“As New York continues the transition to a clean energy future, we want to keep our customers updated on the tools and innovations that will make their lives better. Code and Theory and Assembly have impressed us with their holistic creative approach and their unique understanding of the needs of our customers.”

A localized approach through radio and TV ads

Assembly and Code and Theory expressed excitement on working with an “iconic” New York client which is part of the “fabric of the city.”

Con Edison is unique in that Code and Theory will not be attempting to convince anyone to sign up for the company’s service. Instead, it will showcase the extent of the company’s influence and its commitment to evolve toward a greener future.

“We’re looking to deepen relationships with customers. It’s going to be hard to rein in the creative thinking because this is such a part of our everyday lives,” Code and Theory CCO Amy Carvajal told Adweek. “We have a lot of ideas on utilizing digital for communications. We were not for a lack of inspiration on this account.”

Given that Con Edison serves New York City and the surrounding area, the work will take a localized approach, leaning into local radio and TV ads and OOH in the coming months as pandemic restrictions lift, alongside digital, paid social, paid search, digital display and programmatic advertising, Sivillo told Adweek.

Working in lockstep

The close relationship with Assembly will allow the teams to collaborate throughout the process to ensure creative ideas are informed by media solutions and that media is designed to deliver the creative approach developed.

“Sometimes when you have companies coming together, you might have creative driven media [or vice versa],” said Kim Sivillo, Assembly client president, explaining that the two agencies will work together to determine what Con Edison audiences need and will provide the best solution.

“We start everything with the customer. We have tech and data we use to segment audiences into different profiles and clusters, where they’re spending time in media, what kind of messaging is going to resonate with them,” she added. “From there we circle back with creative and talk about how we’re going to get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time.”

The appointment follows a review launched last year in which the client sought an integrated agency solution and Code and Theory partnered with Assembly on the pitch for media buying and planning.

“We feel that it’s two best-in-class agencies offering an integrated solution rather than one agency trying to do it all,” Sivillo told Adweek.

The approach is not an anomaly. Assembly and Code and Theory shared that the shops are partnering on another undisclosed client and working together on two ongoing pitches in a similar fashion.

Three months ago, MDC Partners and Stagwell Group agreed to merge, pending further approvals. The merger was initially proposed last June. Stagwell Group founder Mark Penn took over as MDC Partners CEO in 2019, following an investment from Stagwell Group.

The relationship between the two agencies demonstrates how the two Penn-led entities are already partnering, and what could be expected should the merger be finalized.

“There’s been a lot of talk about Stagwell and MDC Partners,” Carvajal said. “We have quite a few success stories. This wasn’t something that was forced on us."

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