Zipcar hires Weber Shandwick as global AOR

CAMBRIDGE, MA: Zipcar hired Weber Shandwick as its global AOR, following a competitive RFI and RFP process that began in March.

CAMBRIDGE, MA: Zipcar hired Weber Shandwick as its global AOR, following a competitive RFI and RFP process that began in March. Effective June 1, the agency is handling corporate PR, consumer PR, and social media, explained Zipcar CMO Rob Weisberg.

He added that the company had been working with a number of small agencies in Canada and abroad, as well as former US AOR CooperKatz. The company decided to consolidate PR agencies, as well as increase its PR investment, as it looks for potential long-term growth and expansion in Europe and Asia, beyond the 16-plus markets in which it currently operates, he explained.

“While I was not unhappy with the smaller agencies, I thought we'd be better off with a large global PR partner,” he said.

The company had initially issued an RFI to 10 agencies, and narrowed them down to four for the RFP process. The smallest agency reviewed was “about a $100 million agency,” he said. He added that Weber Shandwick's pitch “was heads and shoulders above the rest” in its strategy to leverage and generate brand advocates called “Zipsters.”

Micho Spring, chair of Weber Shandwick's global corporate practice, said an agency-wide survey on attitudes about Zipcar helped inform the pitch strategy on “deepening the relationship around members.”

“Our deep market roots and global reach will be enormously important to them,” she said. “We're going to be working with them to help them deepen the engagement with 400,000-plus Zipsters.”

Aside from handling traditional consumer and corporate PR, as well as social media strategy, Weber will develop specific strategies around the brand's core constituencies, including businesses, universities, and government organizations. As such, the agency will focus on technology PR and government affairs, especially while promoting the brand's FastFleet product line, which is positioned as a high-tech line with improved workflow and cost-saving functions.

The brand also recently announced an IPO and S1 filing. Due to a “quiet period” following the announcement, Weisberg would not comment on whether or not Weber will work on IR or financial communications tasks.

"We hired them on a PR basis only," he added. "Whether or not we'll leverage them for IR work remains to be seen.”

He would not disclose if the company is working with other IR or financial communications firms.

Weisberg also would not disclose the budget, but when asked to confirm that it's in the low-six-figures range, he said, “it's on the higher end.”

He added that the agency contract is annual with renewals.

Of the parting with CooperKatz, which was not invited to participate in the review, Weisberg said, “We thought very highly of them, but ultimately it came down to scalability. We parted friends.”

Andy Cooper, principal and co-founder at CooperKatz, said, "We reached a point where they needed a different kind of agency. We were wonderful partners."

The company had worked with the agency for three years and officially ended the relationship at the end of March.

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