Kansas City-based Barkley is closing out a strong year with another win, picking up four Post cereal brands around a month after being appointed agency of record for Motel 6.
The independent shop will handle marketing for Great Grains, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honeycomb and the Pebbles family of brands (which includes Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles and Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles).
The appointment follows a creative and strategic review process overseen by search consultancy Pile+Company, which confirmed its involvement in the review but declined to comment further. The review began in September as the CPG giant looked to move from working with multiple agencies across its brands to consolidating with a single shop, according to a source familiar with the process.
Pebbles’ former creative agency of record, Public Works, created a “Daily Yabba Dabba Doo” web series earlier this year. The Minneapolis agency previously led Honey Bunches of Oats as well, before the brand named Argonaut creative and social media agency in 2018, and has also worked with Great Grains and Honeycomb.
“We look forward to building on our strong foundation by leveraging Barkley’s deep understanding of the CPG category and demonstrated ability to reach consumers with vastly different tastes and preferences,” Post Consumer Brands chief growth officer TD Dixon said in a statement. “Barkley’s modern consumer expertise and vision made them a clear standout during the review process.”
Taking a ‘whole brand’ approach
Barkley’s relationship with Post kicks off next month. Barkley chief growth officer Jason Parks told Adweek that the agency’s consumer research expertise and comprehensive strategic approach helped it stand apart and demonstrate an ability to work across multiple distinct brands with different audiences.
“We understand modern consumers better than any other agency, and that shone through in the review process,” he said. “We’re taking a whole brand approach. Marketing and advertising was the core of assignment, but what differentiated our approach was having a creative idea at the center connected not just to marketing ideas but business ideas.”
He explained that the agency’s “whole brand” approach stemmed from its consumer research, which found that modern consumers want brands that go beyond advertising and “are who they say they are” across a number of mediums, which ties into brand purpose.
The approach has caught on as clients find themselves forced to adapt to rapidly evolving consumer behaviors and demands. Barkley claims the Post appointment follows nine account wins over the course of the past 12 months. Nearly a month ago, Motel 6 appointed Barkley as its agency of record after firing longtime agency The Richards Group. Other client wins this year include Copper Mountain Resorts, Delta Faucets, San Jose State University, SummaCare and Security Benefit.
Parks explained that with fierce competition, companies are looking to increase brand consistency.
“What we’ve done is put creativity at the center but continue to invest in strategy: in traditional account planning, but beyond that to business strategy. We’ve hired a lot of ex-client-side business strategists to the team so we can deliver on that,” he said, comparing it to a reverse of consultancies investing in creative agencies, with Barkley building out business consulting abilities around its creative core. “We’re doubling down on the approach from a growth perspective, investing in research and thought leadership, and putting that in the marketplace and sharing our take on the world.”
Barkley has capitalized on these investments with what Parks said has been the most successful year in the history of the agency, which was launched in 1964. He added that more clients are open to working with independent agencies like Barkley as they seek partners that can pivot quickly to changing consumer demands and provide access to senior talent, while acknowledging that the agency’s momentum is also playing a role in Barkley being considered for reviews it may not have been years ago.