Liberty Mutual Heads to Havas Worldwide, Optimedia

Creative, media business leaves Hill Holliday

Liberty Mutual represents a big win for Havas Worldwide's New York office, six months after leadership changes at the shop.

With annual media spending of $150 million, the insurance company gives the shop a high-profile opportunity to showcase its strategic and creative capabilities. And with spending that high, the media assignment is just as significant for the brand's new agency for media planning and buying: Publicis Groupe's Optimedia.

In selecting Havas Worldwide, Liberty Mutual chief marketing officer James McPhee cited the agency's "significant experience, creative leadership, and strong analytics."

Andrew Benett's, the shop's global president and head of the New York office, in turn, said of his new client: "We see amazing potential in the business and look forward to partnering with them to help chart the next chapter for the brand."

The shifts mean that longtime incumbent Hill Holliday in Boston loses a sizeable full-service account. Still, 2013 has been a strong new business year for the Interpublic Group shop, given the addition of lead creative responsibilities for Cadillac and accounts such as Dress Barn, Capella University, Trip Advisors (media) and Necco. Revenue at the shop grew 6 percent this year to an estimated $184 million.

The other finalists for Liberty Mutual's creative assignment were mcgarrybowen in Chicago, Mullen in Boston and the incumbent, which also participated in the media pitch. Sources previously identified the other media contenders as Mullen's Mediahub unit, Dentsu's Carat and WPP Group's MediaCom.

Pile + Co. in Boston helped manage the search.