Sydney and Perth-based 303 Lowe is rebranding as 303 MullenLowe and will change its logo to an octopus wearing boxing gloves, with Australian CEO Nick Cleaver revealing the business is expanding into PR as part of a local restructure that has accompanied the move.
The move comes as part of a global strategy by the group to improve its reach in the US, where the network has traditionally been weakest, with Lowe buying into Boston-based Mullen group last year. 303 will be one of the few agencies to retain its local branding.
“In our rebrand the prominence of 303 is no accident,” Nick Cleaver, CEO of 303 MullenLowe Australia, told Mumbrella.
“The continued prominence of the 303 name in the local rebrand is reflective of our agency’s local market strength and of our ongoing ownership stake in the business.
“The new global alignment is great news for our business as the relationship strengthens our offer in the important U.S. market and will substantially bolster the group’s capabilities in pitching and winning global business.”
But the announcement of the rebranding and move to PR has been accompanied by the revelation that client Harley-Davidson has launched a global review of its business, including the local account with 303 MullenLowe in Australia.
“We are aware Harley are reviewing their global advertising arrangements in the US. This isn’t something we can comment on further at this stage,” said Cleaver. The agency released its most recent work for the brand just before Christmas with a well-received ad about a rebellious elf.
Cleaver said the merger with Mullen would extend the Boston agency’s “hyper-bundled” model to Australia. “They have a good bunch of clients and they do some really interesting work,” said Cleaver. “They have got part of the Acura business, Adidas, do work with Google and some fantastic work with Jet Blue.”
The agency also recently won the American Grand Effie for American Greetings. Cleaver said the bundled model of creative digital and media that his agency was now committed to was not going to be the choice of all clients, but he saw challenges for those committed to the silo model.
“I think it’s problematic. You need to be very clear with your roster of agencies about where their responsibilities start and finish and what your expectations of them are. But I think it’s immensely wasteful of time and resources,” Cleaver added.
While Cleaver has been moving along the full service path since the little Perth agency made its move to become a national force by setting up in Sydney, one remaining gap has been PR – an area many other agencies now include in their offer through stand-alone but tightly-aligned PR brands.
He revealed PR will be the next area of growth, having seen the importance of the discipline with clients such as Budget Direct and the launch of the Captain Risky campaign last year.
“The crux of making it work is making sure there is a level playing field between the three strategic disciplines,” he said.
“We are currently in market and getting close to making an announcement on putting a stronger PR offering into our agency. It’s all about communications, we already have a very influential social media team but I think we’d like to extend that into areas of activation, experiential, as well as offering a more holistic comms offering.”
Cleaver said he expected to be able to announce the full detail of the plans over coming months.
Meanwhile the business will embrace the new branding with support from Lowe globally.
The move to integrate Mullen into the Lowe network also sees Lowe Profero changing its name to MullenLowe Profero
Alex Leikikh, Global CEO of MullenLowe Group said: “The creation of MullenLowe Group has given us the opportunity to create a whole new type of global communications network. A network not defined by silos. A network with integrated communications planning built into the model.
“A network where we bring together the best cross section of our talent across all disciplines to work on client business challenges and drive more creativity”.
MullenLowe Profero Australia MD Dave Bentley said the rebrand was the next stage in a five year journey for the Australian business.
“Over the past 5 years we’ve focused our energies on building a strong and collaborative experience design, software development and media consultancy,” said Bentley.
“Because of this, 2015 was a watershed year for Profero in Sydney, delivering extraordinary business performance, while also establishing ourselves as one of Australia’s leading customer experience and omni- channel solutions partners.”