MasterCard has contacted agencies about its business-to-business advertising, with the goal of hiring a shop to lead such creative efforts globally, according to a request for proposals issued to prospective partners.
The review stems in part from an internal reorganization, a MasterCard representative acknowledged. The company has created a b-to-b marketing team to streamline and add consistency to efforts that previously were split among product and service business units, the RFP notes. Accordingly, dozens of agencies have created b-to-b ads, depending on the market and company unit.
The purpose of the review is to “ensure we have the most effective and efficient approach based on current and future business needs and opportunities,” said Chris Monteiro, group head of worldwide communications at MasterCard in Purchase, N.Y. He added that the process is “designed to assess our current b-to-b marketing agency roster and our overall approach to this space to ensure we are executing a best-in-class model.”
The RFP indicates that the company is seeking a lead b-to-b shop and an “appropriate mix of b-to-b support agencies to effect an optimal agency engagement model.”
Neither the document nor Monteiro quantified the value of the business in play, but sources describe the opportunity as significant based on what MasterCard is asking for. Among the “critical” selection criteria listed in the RFP are capabilities in creative development, account management, planning, integration, tracking competitors and measuring return on investment.
“It’s a very comprehensive RFP, which suggest that it’s [a] sizable” account, said a source.
Globally, MasterCard spent $1.01 billion on all advertising and marketing last year, according to the company’s annual report. That figure includes advertising, sponsorships, promotions, customer relationship marketing, interactive media and public relations.
In the U.S alone, the company’s major media spending — excluding online –totaled nearly $220 million in 2008 and about $95 million in the first eight months of 2009, according to Nielsen.
The b-to-b search comes on the heels of a global review for digital duties. Interpublic Group’s R/GA won that assignment.
The new review does not include consumer brand image duties, handled globally by IPG’s McCann Erickson, nor media duties, which are split between Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Texas (in the U.S.) and Universal McCann (abroad). The b-to-b strategy for digital isn’t included either, according to the RFP.
As for McCann and its long-running “Priceless” campaign, Monteiro said: “We’re proud of the Priceless platform and have no plans to substantially modify it or change agencies. We have been evolving that platform over time and it remains very effective on behalf of our customers and among consumers.”
It was not immediately clear how many agencies received the RFP. The document is due back Nov. 11 and, based on submissions, MasterCard will select finalists that will be briefed two weeks later, according to the RFP.
The company aims to complete its search in December.