Mullen Refines New-Biz Strategy

Shop taps Arnold executive to pitch total agency package

Mullen looks to take a more aggressive, networkwide new-business approach under Melissa Lea, who this week joins as evp, director of business development, a new post at the Interpublic Group agency.

Lea comes from Havas’ Arnold, Boston, where she spent seven years, most recently as svp, integrated marketing director. She is the first executive dedicated to new-business efforts across the 33-year-old shop’s offices in Wenham, Mass.; Winston-Salem, N.C.; Detroit; and Pittsburgh.

CEO Joe Grimaldi has handled new business for two years out of Wenham. Lea and Grimaldi said Mullen has to improve how it communicates its offerings to prospective clients. “It’s all about building the Mullen brand” in a more proactive way, Grimaldi said.

Lea, who has a law degree, is known for her meticulous preparation and hands-on new-business approach. At Arnold, she helped initiate and oversaw winning pitches for the American Legacy Foundation, Boston Market, Coors, the Hartford and Royal Caribbean.

At Mullen she will have free rein to design new-business procedures. The shop was in 25 pitches last year and was unhappy with its 60 percent success rate. The goal is to be more selective and contact desired clients before the business is in review.

Last year, “we were approached by [prospects] who were aware of Mullen, who basically knew us already,” Grimaldi said.

Grimaldi interviewed more than 30 people for the post. Lea emerged from a shortlist of two or three. “She has the right experience” with selling a creatively driven agency to large national brands and bringing remote offices together as a cohesive team for pitches, Grimaldi said.

Phil Reilly, Arnold’s integrated marketing director, will take Lea’s former post.