The Martin Agency loses UPS; picks up Expedia, Sun Life Financial

Just a reminder of what a tough industry this is: Last week, The Martin Agency withdrew from its bid to retain UPS as a client — a client for which it has created stellar and effective work.

UPS had put the account up for review a few months back because they wanted to globalize their efforts. (At least, that’s what I was told by a Martin executive. There’s always more to the story. I’ll try to get some of the inside scoop soon.)

Martin had held the account for nine years and had been leading some of UPS’s international creative efforts under the direction of Mike Hughes.

In some ways, UPS was Martin’s breakthrough account, even though they had won Geico five years earlier. Martin’s work for UPS was far different than anything the agency had ever done before. “What Can Brown Do For You?” seemed like a real stretch for a creative team that seemed geared to the Creative Arts Magazine crowd.

As a one-time Martin writer, looking in from the outside – I thought Martin’s work for UPS was a big step forward. It proved that they could execute big-time campaigns in a way that eluded other creative boutiques. Thanks to the success of UPS and Geico, it’s been years since you could call Martin a boutique.

UPS was a great challenge and a great accomplishment. The Martin team was working in the shadow of one the all-time great ad campaigns from Fedex. Yet UPS and Martin managed to leave Fedex in their rear view mirror. Not by imitating them, but by going in entirely new directions.

If it’s not a case study in marketing classes, it ought to be.

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Before you feel too sorry for Martin, they picked up Expedia and Sun Life Financial within a span of 10 days this month. When you look at what Martin has done for Geico, WalMart and UPS, they deserve the good news.

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