Carat Wins SharkNinja's North American Business

The brand will end its five-year relationship with UM

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SharkNinja is awarding its media business to Carat U.S., following a competitive review that the brand led itself.

The review was an “expeditious process,” said Michael Law, Carat’s North America CEO, estimating just six weeks passed from when Carat received the brief to when it learned of the decision. “In the world of pitches, this one moved quite quickly. I think the client had a very clear point of view on what they were looking to do,” he said.

The media agency will manage all media planning and buying for the brand in North America. The business leaves IPG Mediabrands agency UM, which won the account in 2018. At that time, the business was worth an estimated $59 million.

“We’re honored to have had the opportunity to support SharkNinja, and we’re proud of the growth, results and award-winning work we’ve created together. We wish them the very best in this next chapter,” a UM spokesperson said in a statement shared with Adweek.

SharkNinja declined to name the other agencies it invited to the pitch, but did confirm it evaluated both holding companies and independent agencies. It was looking for a single media agency partner, instead of the group-level solutions that are increasingly more common, according to Ashley Eckerlin, svp of commercial strategy, planning and analytics at SharkNinja.

Deviating from a 20,000-foot strategy

SharkNinja wants to deviate from marketing at a 20,000 foot level, Eckerlin told Adweek. So, Carat’s data-first strategy was attractive. The agency’s Merkury audience segmentation tool could help Eckerlin and her team reach consumers on a 1-1 level.

“It’s not just, ‘We have this tool and we can reach these audiences on a one-to-one basis,’ but, ‘Oh, by the way, we have a really strong strategy principle that allows us to bring that to the next level,” she told Adweek.

Dentsu Media’s focus on attention metrics also made a difference during the pitch.

“The one area that I’m most excited about in terms of Carat’s offering is the attention economy,” Eckerlin said.

The leader and her team hadn’t considered planning around attention, primarily because they didn’t have access to research that supported it. She wondered if there were new platforms SharkNinja could potentially build into its plan based on how its consumers interacted with them.

The Carat team provided data that supported SharkNinja upping its investments in under-utilized channels like Twitch.

“The key insight of the kind of tactical work and immediate plans, to me was the work around attention,” Law told Adweek.

‘An immediate culture connection’

The Carat team already managed the SharkNinja business in Germany, which gave the U.S. Dentsu Media agency some advanced knowledge of the brand’s strategies and goals.

During the pitch, Carat focused on its data capabilities and showing the client how data can inform media channel strategy and uncover new information about target audiences.

A data-centric approach made sense for the brand, according to Law, since SharkNinja’s aims to grow and convert new consumers. The brief was specific, and asked agencies to craft a media strategy that would support an upcoming product launch that Law declined to elaborate on.

SharkNinja also requested Carat validate the audience segments it had already identified, to ensure the brand was on the right track.

“There was an immediate culture connection, which made the meeting feel more like work sessions, versus that we were we were pitching,” said Law. “The teams clicked very quickly,” he added.

Finding the most engaged people

The business transition is currently underway, and the agency will formally begin work this April.

“We move very fast as an organization, and Carat does as well. We are quickly approaching that scale up,” Eckerlin said.

The Carat team is collaborating with its international counterpart to build global connectivity and learn from the SharkNinja Germany team’s strategy.

The Carat U.S. team is also tapping its most engaged employees to work on the account. During the pitch, it had more than half the team fully identified and ready to work on the business, Law told Adweek.

“One interesting thing that we’ve really focused on is having people that are more dedicated to single pieces of business, versus working in a portfolio approach,” he said.

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