McGraw Hill Financial brings on Kwittken to aid with rebrand to S&P Global

"We are not just focusing on visual identity; the significance behind the name change and what it meant for the future was very important," said Aaron Kwittken of the comms strategy behind the rebrand.

NEW YORK: McGraw Hill Financial, which rebranded late last month as S&P Global, has hired Kwittken as global AOR for the company’s corporate brand.

Kwittken is handling messaging, thought leadership, editorial service support, writing, and media relations, with a heavy emphasis on top-tier national business press and influencers. Social media is handled in-house.

Kwittken’s first assignment is the S&P Global rebrand, which became official on April 28, following a shareholder vote. The firm is working on positioning, messaging, and outreach for the company’s changes.

Aaron Kwittken, CEO and global chairman, said part of his firm’s remit is telling the larger story behind the rebranding.

"We are not just focusing on visual identity; the significance behind the name change and what it meant for the future was very important," he said about the comms strategy behind the rebrand.

The RFP was issued in Q1, and Kwittken was selected in mid-March following a competitive process.

Christine Elliott, S&P Global CCO, noted that the rebranding is the culmination of "deliberate strategic decisions" that have taken place at the company in recent years. Since Doug Peterson took the helm as president and CEO in 2013, he has facilitated a shift towards global data analytics and away from publishing.

The name change follows decisions to spin off an education division and move the corporate headquarters from midtown to downtown Manhattan.

"The McGraw Hill brand is very much associated with education or publishing," said Elliott. "As we refocus the company on information, analytics, and massive data capability, that linkage to S&P – which stands for integrity and transparency – was critical for us."

Elliott described the outreach touting the rebrand as an "aggressive plan," involving various members of S&P Global’s C-suite.

"[Peterson] has led the charge in top-tier media along with Jack Callahan, our CFO, who has been part of this transformation for six years," she said.

Kwittken is also helping S&P Global use the "vast amount of deep intellectual capital" that the company produces regularly around the world and attach it to what is happening in global business markets.

"We are making sure that intellectual capital can be utilized as part of important and critical conversations that are central to the global economy," Kwittken said.

He added that Kwittken is also tasked with quashing misperceptions about the S&P Global brand and seeking opportunities for the C-suite to have a stronger voice in the marketplace, along with the economists and subject-matter experts that are employed by the brand.   

Kwittken EVP Gabrielle Zucker, who is based in the firm’s New York office, is heading a global team of seven staffers on the account. Budget information was not disclosed.

Kwittken is the first global AOR that the company has brought on for its corporate brand. Elliot explained that various agencies work with the company’s divisions, which include Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, S&P Global Market Intelligence, S&P Dow Jones Indices, and Platts.

"[Hiring a global AOR for our corporate brand] fits with our overall strategy," said Elliott. "So as we become a more focused company in terms of our product offerings, it made sense to focus our messaging and consolidate our media activities."  

Kwittken previously worked with the company’s Platts division, which focuses on energy and commodities analysis.

"Their global capabilities are something that met our needs around the world," Elliott said of Kwittken, which has offices in New York, London, and Toronto. "They have strong experience and expertise in terms of top-tier business media. Business-to-business was a critical factor for us."

Landor, S&P Global’s branding agency, also worked on the creative aspects of the rebranding and helped the company think through activations, explained Elliott.

This story was updated to remove part of a sentence saying it was the first name change in the company's history.

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