By: Olivia Morley
Assembly took home Lenovo’s media business following a review managed by MediaSense that began last September and concluded early this year. The Stagwell agency wrangled the media assignment from Publicis’ Performics.
As of this month, Assembly manages media for Lenovo’s consumer, commercial and small- and medium-sized business segments. The global assignment includes North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
“It was a hard-fought pitch, and the usual suspects were participating,” said James Townsend, global CEO of Stagwell Media Network and Assembly. Townsend declined to mention specific agencies that competed for the business, but the list includes incumbent Publicis’ Performics and Dentsu.
Performics held the Lenovo account since 2018, and it remains Lenovo’s media agency in China. However, according to Assembly, China was not part of the RFP. Publicis also retained Lenovo’s global ecommerce business. Dentsu nabbed the business in the remainder of the Asia Pacific region.
Explaining why the account went into review, Emily Ketchen, vp and CMO of the Intelligent Devices Group at Lenovo told Adweek: “As a global company in a fast-paced industry, it’s our practice to conduct regular evaluations of all our key agency partners. This helps ensure that our expectations remain aligned and we’re able to collaborate with the world’s top marketing talent.”
Assembly’s global reach makes it Stagwell’s foremost media agency. Its team is 1,600-people large, with a presence in more than 20 locations around the world. With global scale also comes a desire to retain a nimble approach to work.
“What we’re trying to build is an agency that has that agile mindset as an agile business model, which means we can fit and flex accordingly,” Townsend said.
A tech-driven decision
Lenovo and the agency had instant chemistry, according to agency leaders. During the pitch, the brand encouraged Assembly to challenge its thinking.
“What they said was that at every step of the way, from brief to final moments and into our engagement thus far, that we do just that,” said Rick Acampora, global COO at Assembly and global chief client officer at Stagwell Media Network. “We challenged them every step of the way, in a very partnering, strategic sort of way.”
Infusing Lenovo’s media strategy with sophisticated technology is part of the plan, and its Stage audience insights platform elevated the pitch.
“As the technology and marketing industries undergo a profound transformation in an increasingly fragmented digital ecosystem, marketing needs to adapt and modernize as we navigate this new environment,” said Gina Qiao, senior vice president and chief strategy and marketing officer at Lenovo, in a statement.
Embracing the in-house agency
The right organizational structure can be just as important as a media strategy. Lenovo’s RFP asked agencies to imagine a way of working with its Global Media Strategy Center of Excellence, specifically inquiring about how the agency and the in-house group might split up work.
Lenovo’s Center of Excellence “is positioned between Lenovo’s local marketing teams and external agency partners to guide the campaign process end to end, from media strategy and planning, buying and execution to data analysis and insights,” Ketchen said.
Prepared with examples of the pitfalls of in-house and external agency relationships, Assembly proposed a dynamic model in which it will work closely with, and also provide consultative guidance to, Lenovo’s in-house team.
“We brought a very nontraditional point of view to in-housing,” Acampora added.