Ad agency Walrus is building a media department to handle media planning and buying for clients. Up to now the agency’s offering has focused on creative advertising and marketing strategy.
Industry veteran Mel Stern will head up the new division as media communications director.
“The best results come from campaigns that connect creative and media from start to finish," says Frances Webster, co-founder and chief operating officer, Walrus. "Given the speed of convergence, we saw an opportunity to bring more value to clients by making media planning a core part of our business and we’re doing that with the appointment of Mel Stern."
In addition to a growing demand for integrated solutions, there’s also a real need among today’s brand marketers for greater transparency in media practices, she says.
"There seems to be a bit of ‘opaque big agency’ fatigue and Walrus is well-positioned as an independent, smaller agency to not only make sure campaigns are working as best as they can, but also to keep the lines of communication open with clients about where their media dollars are going and how they are performing, and ultimately what will help them reach their goals."
Client demand will determine how to best build out the team, she says. "Mel is putting together a road map for the department based on current and prospective client needs. Our natural next hires would be in the areas of analytics, search and programmatic."
Stern comes to Walrus from J3/Universal McCann where he developed integrated media planning for Johnson & Johnson brands including Acuvue, Simponi Aria, Invokana, Animas, DePuy-Synthes, and Lifescan.
Previously, he served as a brand strategy supervisor at Horizon Media, where he led media strategy for Capital One Finance, Little Caesars, Mohegan Sun, and Ruby Tuesday.
Stern began his media planning career at Wieden + Kennedy, working with the Nike NY and Jordan brand accounts.
“This move signals the direction our industry is headed and the solutions needed to address a complex, fragmented media landscape," says Stern. "With media and creative being in the same room from the start, aligning on KPIs, and optimizing launched campaigns in real time together, both disciplines will thrive and Walrus will continue to create campaigns that earn people’s attention and drive results.”
The launch of Walrus’ media department follows recent new business growth, including The Trade Desk and General Mills which introduced an entirely mobile campaign for Tiny Toast, the first new cereal brand launched by General Mills in 15 years.