Manulife names dentsu global agency for creative and media

Manulife is focused on building and growing its brand globally, and for the first time will work with just one agency to help achieve its goals.

The Toronto-based financial giant, which has operations in the U.S., Asia and Europe, confirmed on Thursday that it has hired dentsu as its agency of record for creative and media. Aside from expanding globally, Manulife said it is committed to becoming “the digital, customer-centric global company in its industry.”

Previously, Manulife managed its brand separately in each of its markets around the world. That meant it had “very different AORs” across its various businesses, said chief marketing officer Karen Leggett. Brand management was “too decentralized with a whole bunch of different relationships” she said, leading to the decision to consolidate everything with one global media and creative agency relationship.

“That would really help to support our brands, help us build out a very defined global brand strategy that could then be tailored at the market level,” said Leggett. To manage the account, dentsu has created a unit called “Green Thread at dentsu” that is made up of creative and media experts from across its network.

“Our integrated team is excited to unlock unique opportunities, sustainable value and lasting change for Manulife and the communities it serves,” said Jeff Greenspoon, president of global solutions for dentsu international, in a release. “We are excited for our integrated team to partner with the Manulife team to achieve meaningful progress as a force for both growth and good.”

Having an agency network with a similar footprint to Manulife was a top priority when inviting agencies to pitch for the business, said Leggett. “And we also wanted to work with an agency that also knew how to work on global basis and was not sort of overly decentralized.”

Aside from its each, dentsu’s digital capabilities also appealed to Manulife. “They are also one of the agencies that is the most data and insights driven, and that was really important to us,” said Leggett.

Asked how Manulife marketing will change with dentsu, Leggett described it as a next step in a “transformation journey.”

Manulife has introduced significant new offerings that have not yet had much, if any, marketing support behind them. A new climate action plan and impact strategy will be launched as brand pillars in 2022, for example. There’s also what Leggett describes as a new “behavioural insurance product,” which will include a mobile app to encourage healthier lifestyles and will see wellness objectives rewarded with insurance discounts.

“It’s something that we haven’t really promoted to the level we believe we can.” Those new assets will become key focal points for denstsu in the months ahead, she said.

In terms of the brand voice, Leggett said they’ll continue to use the brand platform “Decisions Made Easier. Lives Made Better.” Manulife has been using that line for almost three years, although mostly for internal communications said Leggett. “We never quite pivoted to using that more externally.”

David Brown