Essence Doubles its Billings by Adding Target, NBCUniversal | Agency News

Essence Global CEO Christian Juhl said his agency is trying to figure out how to apply some of its digital practices to analog media channels. Credit: Marketwire/Essence


Essence suddenly drew the spotlight earlier this summer when WPP’s GroupM said it would invest more heavily in the digital agency, which it bought in 2015, partly through merging two other agencies with bigger names.

Now, Essence is gaining two major clients from elsewhere in GroupM, Target and NBC Universal, which will more than double its media billings to nearly $3 billion.

GroupM, the largest media buyer in the world, is tasking Essence, historically a purely digital agency known for handling Google‘s digital media, with figuring out how to better measure traditional media using data and insights. That’s a challenge that many in the industry are racing to tackle. The agency intends work with its clients to build new capabilities in these areas, then help spread that knowledge to other GroupM agencies.

“We’re doubling down on Essence as a growth engine for GroupM and WPP,” GroupM Global CEO Kelly Clark said, calling the shop “the tip of the spear in terms of innovation across the group.”

“Essence is currently a smaller agency, and therefore in some ways is nimble, adaptive and really able to act on changes and opportunities,” he added.

The Target account, previously housed inside GroupM as Team Arrow, will now be split between Essence offices in New York and Minneapolis, where Target is headquartered. Team Arrow’s 100 staffers and CEO Jason Harrison will become part of Essence.

Kristi Argyilan, senior VP-media, guest engagement and measurement at Target, said the brand can take a more progressive approach to marketing with a new emphasis on data and analytics. The brand spends more than $570 million in media billings annually, Essence said.

“We’ve gone beyond a category-driven approach to focusing on the sales that we want to drive and the guests who are resonating…

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