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Brand & Business: Serviceplan Group is thriving even in times of Covid-19

MUNICH, GERMANY — Florian Haller, CEO of Serviceplan Group, sums up the Serviceplan Group’s results: “It is extraordinary and makes me very proud to see how we were able to cope so well with the Covid-19 crisis, including all its negative effects on the market, the media, and clients. This positive financial result is founded on various strategic building blocks, which together contributed to our further substantial development over the past financial year. I would like to thank all my colleagues and partners in the group who overcame these often challenging circumstances superbly, not only professionally but also in their private lives. It is testament to the people and culture of Serviceplan Group that we have come together to get through a challenging year. And the human factor has become significantly more visible as a result of the pandemic – remote working, hybrid event formats and digitalized processes have become an indispensable part of our everyday lives, both today and in the future”.

The entire agency group concluded the financial year ending on 30 June 2021 with a fee turnover of 488 million Euros, an increase of 9 percent compared to the previous year (448 million Euros).

Serviceplan Group CEO Florian Haller

ÜberCreativity – the special mindset that makes all the difference


“ÜberCreativity” arises when various different communication disciplines combine their specific strengths in order to raise an idea to a previously unattainable creative level. Over the past 2020/21 financial year, it was precisely this special mindset of the agency group that was one of the decisive drivers of success. The Serviceplan Group concept of “House of Communication” (HoC) provides the basis for ÜberCreativity: Creative & Content, Experience & Commerce and Media & Data – all these building blocks are conceived in an integrated way within the HoC and implemented for clients individually and with agility. With new customized agency concepts for and with O2 / Telefónica (“Serviceplan Bubble” – operating since August 2020), BMW (“The Marcom Engine” – operating since September 2020) and Tchibo (“Serviceplan Docks” – account acquired in May 2021), the Serviceplan Group is demonstrating its special ethos as an integrated communications service.

In addition, new alliances such as BAUERSERVICEPLAN, the content marketing and corporate publishing services provided jointly by the Bauer Media Group and Serviceplan, as well as related accounts, have strengthened the market position of Europe’s largest owner-managed agency group over the past financial year. Such joint projects include; the CDU (Serviceplan Reputation, Saint Elmo’s, Serviceplan Campaign, Serviceplan Experience); Fressnapf (Serviceplan Campaign, Future Marketing, Plan.Net Cologne, Plan.Net NEO, Plan.Net Technology, Serviceplan Consulting Group, Serviceplan Solutions); Liftstar (House of Communication Cologne); Nikon (Mediaplus International, Mediaplus Cologne; Plan.Net Performance, Mediascale Cologne) and Siemens Healthineers (Mediaplus International, Plan.Net Pulse); s.Oliver (Mediaplus, Serviceplan Campaign, Serviceplan Design, Serviceplan Consulting Group) and ZDF (Serviceplan Campaign, Plan.Net NEO, Mediaplus Munich, Serviceplan Consulting Group).

Overall, the Serviceplan agencies (including Serviceplan Solutions) reported a fee income of 108 million Euros over the past financial year, an increase of almost 4 percent.

After a Pandemic-induced hiatus of Cannes Lions in 2020, Serviceplan Group campaigns for clients Dot Corporation (“Dot go”), MINI, METER Group (“Meltdown Flags”), Règles Élémentaires (“INVISIBLE WOMEN”) and Sea-Watch (LIFEBOAT-The Experiment) won two gold, one silver and four bronze medals at this year’s awards. The campaign that won most awards was “MINImalism für MINI”, scooping one gold in the Outdoor category and two bronze medals in the Industry Craft category. The best Serviceplan project at ADC Germany was “Meltdown Flags” which won one Grand Prix, one gold, three silver and two bronze.

Climate neutrality in the advertising market

In March 2021, the Mediaplus Group – recently named German Media Agency of the Year for the second time in a row – and ClimatePartner, announced this central goal with their unique “Green GRP” industry initiative for carbon-offsetting campaigns. Using this new calculation model, companies can now decide to make the advertising they have booked climate neutral – for every medium and regardless of the marketer. 

Florian Haller explains: “Our vision is that brand advertising in Germany – and soon expanding to other countries too – will become carbon neutral. According to the German Advertising Federation, the German advertising market is worth around 25 billion Euros net. If we manage to invest an additional 1 per cent of the money in carbon offsetting and climate protection projects, we will have made an important contribution to climate protection. If all market participants join in, at some point they will all be using only climate-neutral campaigns”. The Green GRP has already been rolled out beyond Germany to other countries such as France, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland.

Implementing digitalization consistently

Today the Serviceplan agency group already generates around half of its sales in the digital environment. At agency level, Mediaplus (including Facit) and Plan.Net (including The Marcom Engine) were able to increase their fee income by 11 percent to 241 million Euros over the past financial year.

The Plan.Net Group has further strengthened its position as a leading holistic provider in the field of customer experience management, not least through the targeted expansion of its consulting services, including the takeover of Future Marketing (end of 2020) and investment in the management consultancy thaltegos (May 2021).

With Marcus Ambrus, who was promoted to Chief Strategy & Sales Officer (CSO) at the Plan.Net Group in February, the appointment of Carmen Tscharre-Späth as Head of Transformation and Knowledge Management, and the recent appointment of Christian Waitzinger as Chief Experience Officer (CXO) the management team of the Plan.Net Group is constantly developing.

International focus despite the global crisis

Florian Haller explains: “Now our agency group’s central task will be to stay close to our clients and to consistently and creatively pursue the incredible digitalization push of the past few months. With the lessons we have learned from the Covid-19 period, we will be agile, progressive, and efficient, continuously developing our business in Germany and at an international level”.

Driving forward the consistent internationalization strategy even under pandemic conditions was a decisive factor for the positive development of the agency group. With the latest offices opening in Amsterdam and San Francisco, the Serviceplan Group now has 24 locations in 17 countries with over 4,400 colleagues.

The group is also strengthening its services in the US market with investment in the creative agency Pereira O’Dell and their offices in New York and San Francisco (October 2020). In July 2020, the Serviceplan Group founded the House of Communication Amsterdam after merging with the marketing and media agency Mediaxplain*.

In November 2020, the Mediaplus Group also launched a new stage in its international positioning by appointing Phil Cowdell to the newly created position of CEO Mediaplus Americas at the House of Communication New York. Cowdell will expand the international services of the Mediaplus Group across the entire continent of America and further promote integrated cooperation for globally positioned clients in the group.

With the establishment of TechNest, the Plan.Net Group too has invested in further internationalization. In addition to existing nearshoring and offshoring locations in Romania and India, the Warsaw company TechNest is supporting the implementation of comprehensive digital experience and commerce services for the Plan.Net Group and Serviceplan customized agencies.

During the coming financial year, the strategic internationalization of the agency group will include, among other things, the further expansion of nearshoring and offshoring services and the development of new markets (UK and Nordic countries).

Inspiring people

The decisive importance of the human factor in the successful end-of-year financial position over recent months, is also shown by various important personnel decisions within the group. Assuming the newly created position of CPO (Chief People Officer), Carolyn Schlak reports directly to Florian Haller and enhances the Serviceplan Group Holding Board; Carole Giroud has been hired as the new Managing Director at the House of Communication Paris, to further expand business in the French market. Since March 2021, Michael Wilk has been responsible for the Serviceplan Group’s global visual output in the newly created position of Global Head of Art, managing an international team of creatives.

Alexander Schill, Global Chief Creative Officer of the Serviceplan Group, was appointed as  President of the Art Directors Club of Europe (ADCE) in April 2021, and in this position, he strengthens the creative visibility of the group on a European level.

Creative & Content, Media & Data and Experience & Commerce

In order to promote the visibility of communication disciplines across the whole group, on 1 July the Serviceplan Group Holding expanded its board to include; Matthias Brüll (Managing Director Mediaplus International); Wolf Ingomar Faecks (CEO Plan.Net Group); and Vincent Schmidlin (Spokesman and Managing Director of the Serviceplan agencies).

Serviceplan Group pursues climate neutrality in Europe

Since 2020, all German offices and the House of Communication in Vienna have been climate neutral. In 2021, the Serviceplan Group launched the next stage of its international sustainability management and is beginning the global climate neutrality process with the Houses of Communication in Belgium, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy and Poland. In addition, the agency group is committed to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The group’s first climate report certified by the Global Reporting Index is scheduled for publication in December 2021.

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