Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has opted to integrate its brand, design social, performance marketing and media services under the Stagwell flag, with Forsman & Bodenfors as lead agency and Assembly as media agency partner, following a competitive pitch.
Describing the move as part of an evolution rather than revolution, Mandarin Oriental’s chief commercial officer Joanna Flint exclusively tells Campaign that the rationale behind the decision was to keep their marketing communications at pace with brand’s growth and the expectations of consumers, while avoiding fragmentation in their messaging.
“We know our customers are evolving and we want to be more consistent, coherent and scalable in our positioning, so we will be looking at all elements of the brand. But ultimately we’re doing this to support our vision for a world of ‘fans’ and our growth ambitions.”
Since 2009, the global hotel brand has been working with London Advertising. The shop was set up in 2008 by Michael Moszynski and Alan Jarvie who had previously worked with Mandarin Oriental when they were at M&C Saatchi, the agency which pioneered the hotel group’s well-known “I’m a fan” campaign more than 20 years ago.
Coming into the competitive review, Publicis Groupe’s Spark Foundry had been Mandarin Oriental’s media agency partner but declined to participate. Omnicom was the brand’s third agency partner through its content agency, Cedar, which will continue to retain editorial work with Mandarin Oriental magazine.
Campaign understands that McCann and Ogilvy also participated in the review, which began in September 2022, led by client-agency marketing consultancy AAR Group out of London.
Citing Mandarin Oriental’s expansion within its core hotels and residences business, but also into new alternative accommodations and retail operations, Flint explains there became a need for a lead creative and strategic agency operationally. Growing out of Asia to become a global brand, Hong Kong-based Mandarin Oriental runs 36-upscale hotels and eight residences in 24-countries and territories.
“We’ve got a far more international footprint than we’ve ever had before, and that requires us to have, you know, a far broader based approach to reaching those customers…and ultimately improve our operational delivery so we can support that,” Flint says.
Noting that their mission is to make ‘ideas that change things’, Forsman & Bodenfors’ global CEO Toby Southgate notes just how excited the agency is to work with the brand. “Mandarin Oriental business has a bold and inspirational vision for their future,” Southgate says. “We have been enthused about this opportunity from the very start and we wanted to show every step of the way that we are the right partner for this business.”
Flint notes that Forsman & Bodenfors challenged their thinking during the review, and she was impressed by their seamless integration with Assembly. At the same time, they were conscious of retaining and protecting what has made Mandarin Oriental a valued and highly esteemed brand, hence the continued relationship with London Advertising.