303 MullenLowe taps Maverick’s Melissa Grove to head PR division for shift to ‘hyper-bundled’ model

Grove joins 303 MullenLowe from Maverick

Grove joins 303 MullenLowe from Maverick

Full service agency 303 MullenLowe has appointed Maverick’s Melissa Grove as the agency’s first director of PR as the agency shifts into what it describes as a “hyper-bundled” model.

Grove joins the agency, which already had a creative and media offering, after almost nine years with experiential agency Maverick, where she most recently was the director of integration.

Prior to Maverick, Grove worked with Burson-Marsteller for four years.

Speaking to Mumbrella on the agency’s vision, Grove said: “From a 303 standpoint we can say, hand-on-heart, we’re completely channel agnostic. It is that integrated model where when a brief comes through from a client or when we’re sitting down and we’re looking at what those objectives of a campaign are.

“It’s what we call a hyper-bundled model and the outcome is whatever the outcome needs to be for the client so whether that means the brief gets taken in a PR sense or social or digital, or there’s media spend, it’s the best outcome from a client perspective.”

The agency rebranded from 303Lowe to 303 MullenLowe in January, signalling its intention to dive into the PR space at the same time.


McKie argues 303 MullenLowe’s full-service offering is different to others in market

303 MullenLowe chief strategy office Jon McKie said its full-service model is different to others on the market which also have a PR arm.

“The difference between us and the likes of Host and their relationship with One Green Bean is we don’t have separate P&Ls,” he said.

“There’s no compunction for us to put anything into any one channel, rather the team around the table will  say ‘what’s the best idea to solve the client’s problem?’, and it might be an idea that’s led by a media deal that we can get with News Corp or it might be an idea that’s a brilliant, old-fashioned TV idea or it might be something with great talk-ability and buzz for PR.

“We do take a genuinely channel media-neutral approach, that’s the benefit of being hyper-bundled and not having people who have to make a profit in their P&L.”

It was announced in April that the agency had picked up its first PR account, signing Harley-Davidson.

The agency already held the creative account for the bike brand, which is currently at pitch, however it stresses the account was won through a formal pitch process.

Grove said: “The guys have done an incredible job over the years to build up that relationship with the Harley client and, more and more, we were looking into that social and digital space and some of the concepts and creative ideas that were being developed had a natural hook into PR.

“When the opportunity came up to pitch for the PR account, it was just a no-brainer. You couldn’t ask for a better foundation client, it’s an incredibly bold brand and one that wants to do things differently but also a brand that has a bit of a challenge on its hands and wants to start targeting younger consumers. Helping look at how PR fits into that mix has been incredibly beneficial.”

Grove stressed the agency isn’t creating a separate PR agency but rather a division within the agency that can work alongside the creative and media divisions as needed.

“We are looking to hire. We are looking to expand the PR offering as it stands. We’re not siloed; it’s not going to be the case of setting up an entire separate PR agency that then works alongside the 303 Lowe team, it is integrated,” said Grove.

“The social team, the digital guys – when I am working with clients, they are an extension of the PR team just like I am an extension of their team.

“In terms of looking at clients, and will there be standalone PR clients or will they all be integrated, that question goes back to what the client requires. We will not be pushing a client into a space if it doesn’t make sense for their brand at that point in time. It will differ.”

McKie added the agency is “seeing how it goes”.

“It would be arrogant of us to say this is the future and this will be our structure in three to five years time and we’ll have this many people in PR,” he said.

“We’re a small, entrepreneurial business, all parts of the business have to wash their own face financially but we see PR as having the ability to grow organically our existing client base but also to provide a more attractive offering to new clients.”

Grove said the agency wants to look at how to do PR differently.

“For us, the next 12 months is very much looking at our existing client base and how we start to complement some of the skills we have on board already and what else we can be offering clients.”

In Sydney, the agency touts Aussie, Audi and Budget Direct as clients while the Perth office has Ikea, Enjo and Cash Converters.

McKie said it will be looking after their own clients initially before looking to “expand more aggressively through new business”.

“We seen an opportunity in the market because there are turf wars between different agencies – there have always been,” he said.

“Obviously online and PR have seen a turf war between PR agencies, social agencies, digital agencies and content agencies – but by coming to us you have the opportunity to not deal with those turf wars because we know already who does that. We think it’s quite a compelling business proposition.”


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