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Young & Rubicam

Bel Brands, Y&R Officially Confirm Consolidation

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Well, we finally have some details/color to add to the matter. In case you forgot, just over a month ago, we reported that snacking cheese-focused Bel Brands had consolidated its ad duties at Y&R after working with Havas Worldwide Chicago for 15 months.  We awaited word and now, agency and client have made it official as Y&R Midwest has been named North American agency of record for Bel Brands USA. This in turn expands a relationship between the Y&R network and Bel Brands parent company Bel Group as the agency’s Paris office has handled advertising for the latter since 2007 and will continue on as the brand’s AOR for Europe. Meanwhile, Y&R Sydney and Montreal will continue handling Bel Brands in Australia and Canada, respectively.

As for Y&R Midwest, effective January 2014, the agency will oversee brand strategy, marketing and social media for core Bel Brands core line including Laughing Cow, Mini BabyBel and Boursin. Regarding his company’s move, Bel Brands USA senior director of marketing Dan Waters says in a statement, “Y&R is the perfect global agency partner for us. Having had the opportunity to see what they can do for our brands in Europe, Australia and Canada, we are excited to see what they will accomplish for us here in the United States. They have an incredibly strong global network complemented by a commitment to deep local understanding in each market they serve. We have been particularly impressed with their understanding of how to engage American consumers over digital and social media, and we are excited to see their ideas come to life.”

Look for the first work from Y&R Midwest for Bel Brands USA to launch at a date tbd in 2014.

Y&R NY Makes Some Cuts

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JCPenney, the retail chain that can’t seem to make up its mind about which agency it wants to work with, has, as you probably know, assembled a cavalcade of shops including Doner, Victors & Spoils and EVB, who succeed Y&R following a rather brief stint. Anyhow, layoffs have ensued at Y&R, which sent us this statement:

“Due to our recent parting of ways with J.C. Penney, and in order to best structure ourselves for growth in the new year, we are reducing staff in our New York office by 15 people. Although we are sad to see some of our people go, we are confident about the overall growth of our North American network, and plan to add jobs in our Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto offices in the coming months.”

Y&R took over on JCPenney creative duties this past April.

Y&R Expands Relationship with BMO

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Nearly two years after forming a relationship with BMO, Y&R has now added more responsibilities for the financial institution as it’s now serving as lead agency for its client. What does this entail? Well, the agency’s teams in New York, Chicago and Toronto will oversee all brand and integrated retail banking marketing across traditional and digital media platforms, effective immediately. BMO CMO/head of strategy Joanna Rotenberg says in a statement, “Throughout the review process and in our experience working with them in the past, Y&R has consistently demonstrated superior strategic thinking, presenting thoughtful insights which have been closely aligned to BMO’s vision, brand and strategy. We look forward to deepening our partnership with their integrated North American practice to develop breakthrough, business-building creative.”

We’ve been told that there was a review in Canada for the BMO biz, which was previously handled by Cossette up north. The agency, though, declined to participate in the review. Y&R Canada’s first work as lead agency of brand and retail marketing is slated to be unveiled in the first quarter of 2014.

Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks Players Stalk BMO Harris Bank Customers

A delightful new campaign from Y&R Midwest and Anonymous Content director Brian Billow for BMO Harris Bank finds credit card holders joined by Bulls and Blackhawks players in their everyday lives. Above we see Bulls players Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler accompany a family in the monotony of suburban living, from chatting about potholes getting to taking the dog outside for a bathroom break.

Meanwhile, your Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks are represented by Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, Corey Crawford, Bryan Bickell and Brandon Saad, who swim laps donning their complete uniforms and pads.

What makes these spots much funnier than other commercials for team credit cards is the fact that the players don’t seem to enhance the lives of BMO Harris cardholders. Instead, they just take part in the tedium of every day life. The juxtaposition of game-ready professional athletes and the typical morning routine help make these ads stand out, and they’ll definitely cause a few belly laughs from Chicago sports fans. See the whole campaign, which marks the first time BMO Harris Bank has featured Chicago Bulls players in its advertising, and the third time BMO Harris has featured Chicago Blackhawks players, here.

Bel Brands Consolidates at Y&R

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We’ve been told by sources familiar with the matter after 15-plus-months, Havas Chicago has lost the snacking cheese client, Bel Brands, which includes the likes of Laughing Cow, Merkts, Kaukauna, Price’s and more. We’ve been told that the brand has consolidated its global ad account with Y&R. We’re awaiting comment from the agency, but have been told that Havas Worldwide has handled the account since July 2012. No word yet from Y&R, but we’ll keep you posted.

Y&R, Xerox Celebrate 75 Years in 75 Seconds

Y & R New York has crafted a fun video for Xerox’s 75th anniversary tracing the evolution of the company (and their technology) over the course of 75 seconds.

I’m pretty fond of this “montage of technological innovation” approach, which seems to have become something of a trend. We saw 72 and Sunny try something similar with their montage of fictional high-tech wristwatches for Samsung Galaxy Gear, and of course there was the iPhone’s “Hello” spot. What’s interesting about the Xerox spot is we’re watching pieces of real history, given a glimpse of the birth and evolution of a truly important technological innovation. Xerox concludes the spot by saying “Let’s marvel at what could happen in the next 75.” I like that the focus of the spot is on the company’s history, with just a quick “What will the future hold?” type moment at the end. They could have lingered longer on this idea and it would have been to the spot’s detriment, since its strength lies in the nostalgic historic footage it provides. Y & R’s approach is hardly new or innovative, but it’s well executed and tasteful, a fitting tribute to Xerox’s history. I wouldn’t mind seeing more agencies mining this same approach in the future. It works.

Sears’ Diehard Batteries Will Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

Including a narrative is usually a good way for a commercial to hook the audience with creativity, but this Y&R Midwest zombie spot for Sears actually overdoes the narrative focus to the point where the  brand association is almost negligible. We know, zombies are popular, but it seems like the creatives put more time into the character development of the actors than organically integrating the product. Somebody really enjoys The Walking Dead.

The setup: a girl and a guy running from zombies try to escape in separate cars. The guy’s car won’t start, but the girl’s car has a Diehard battery that is still kicking even after the apocalypse, which is conceptually clever. But, the 70-second running time is too long for the two-second insert shot of a Diehard battery at the very end. If the first 35 seconds of the ad were cut, the relevant story points would still be in tact. There’s also a #SurviveZombies for brand engagement, but if you want or need a reliable car battery, you probably don’t care about hashtags or zombies. Credits after jump.

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Y&R Enlists Three Artists to Paint Murals in the New Columbus Circle Office

Continuing the inspiring agency art wall trend is Y&R New York, which recently moved from 285 Madison Ave to 3 Columbus Circle. To “celebrate advertising as the intersection of art and commerce,” Y&R brought in three artists, each with a unique aesthetic. Shantell Martin works with black pen, letting it lead the way. She draws sweeping lines and then revisits the work, adding details within. Ever draws faces surrounded by blocks of color, which for Y&R shows the process of ideation. Maya Hayuk takes Ever-style work to the next level, making abstract murals entirely of patchworked colors.

You guys freaked out about Arnold NYC’s recent mural, and I’m curious if this seems any less twee or irrelevant. I think the consideration of an everyday environment and the integration of art is important, and if nothing else, we can consider this a visual celebration as summer draws to a close. Who doesn’t like a party?

Y&R Division SicolaMartin Rebrands as Y&R Austin

And thus, the Matt Anthony era at Y&R begins. In what we’ve been told is his first major announcement since taking over for Carter Murray at said agency as North American president/CEO earlier this year, Anthony has announced that Y&R’s Austin-based SicolaMartin will now be known as Y&R Austin. As a result, Y&R’s North American network now spans five markets, which also includes likes of Y&R Midwest, West  sorry, California and New York.

In a statement, Anthony, who joined Y&R after spending nearly two decades at WPP sibling VML, which he was a founding partner of, says, “We are excited to make this formal integration of the Austin agency to our North America network. The truth is we have worked alongside SicolaMartin as partners within Y&R for many years.  While the transition will be seamless and easy, its impact will be powerful.  Y&R Austin has a great offering, fully integrated capabilities, and a strong culture. Their clients will benefit from access to our talent and resources.  But it is also clear that Y&R clients in other markets will benefit from their expertise and experience.”

We’ve been told that the 28-year-old shop formerly known as SicolaMartin, which has shared clients with its parent including Dell and SanDisk since joining as a subsidiary in 2001, will house a staff of approximately 50. Cherie Cox, who has been with SicolaMartin for 20 years and most currently serves as its CEO, will keep the same title at Y&R Austin.

UNCF, Y&R Go Beyond Donations, Asking for ‘Investment in the Future’

Since 1944, the United Negro College Fund has operated under the banner “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” Today, they’re updating to the too-long slogan “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste But a Wonderful Thing to Invest In.”

Regardless of its verbosity, Y&R New York and the Ad Council’s new campaign is a smart, relevant adaptation. Instead of accepting donations for their fund, UNCF is “taking the cause straight to where the money is,” and has created the first-ever stock for social change. Columbia University economist Clive Belfield created an algorithm to determine the value of a share, which investors can purchase via Better Futures’ website.

The Better Futures campaign puts concept into practice, and shows people that they’re not just giving money, they’re investing in future generations. Y&R’s pro bono work will include print and TV PSAs that “use real stories from real UNCF students to show how that investment will pay dividends for all our futures,” says Michael L. Lomax, president/CEO of UNCF, in a statement. If investors are inspired to get involved, the Better Futures stock could be Wall Street’s most meaningful.

Credits after the jump.

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