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In it together

  Article , Success stories

Merkle champions inclusive, people-based marketing

We’re all in it together

Video interviews with Merkle employees discussing the value of inclusive audience marketing.

Putting people at the center of everything is a winning formula for global marketing agency Merkle, which employs more than 9,000 people across 50 offices.

Merkle curates the relationship that brands have with their customers and builds data ecosystems to give clients a deeper, more actionable understanding of their customers. Then they create and execute the digital strategies to help them reach customers.

But that’s just part of their equation for success. They’re really about people. “The company cares about the people that work here. The culture and the people…are like nothing I've ever seen at any other company,” says Laura Collins, Senior Director of Digital Delivery Merkle. “You can ask anyone for help with a project or to spare some time to teach you something. We're all in it together.”

The company cares about the people that work here. The culture and the people…are like nothing I've ever seen at any other company.

— Laura Collins, Senior Director of Digital Delivery, Merkle

A champion for diversity and inclusion

As a people-based agency, Merkle has made diversity and inclusion (D&I) a core pillar of their strategic business plan. They continually seek out new ways to improve D&I. They are working to minimize unconscious bias in the recruitment and interview process to create a more diverse workforce. From trainings around mental health issues to the installation of gender-neutral toilets to fundraising with key charities, Merkle is infusing D&I into every aspect of its business. 

Merkle also works with clients to adopt inclusive marketing. “As part of our joint business plan with Microsoft Advertising last year, we wanted to move beyond focusing on just products and platform. We really wanted to focus on people--and by people, I mean our employees, our clients, their customers, and our partners in the industry,” says Richard Lewis, Head of Internal Excellence at Merkle UK.  The Merkle team invited Jeff Wilson, Executive Board Member for Microsoft Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM), to host a talk on ‘Influence and Impact’. Attended by over 125 employees, Jeff provided their team members with invaluable strategies to help secure client support, increasing employee confidence in pitching inclusive marketing strategies to advertisers.

Microsoft Advertising has shared their own Inclusive marketing learnings and has helped to organize trainings for Merkle.  “We've been really inspired and empowered by Microsoft's example in not just looking at diversity and inclusion as something to do internally as an HR function, but actually something to talk to brands about,” says Lewis. Merkle is also working to develop their own inclusive marketing campaign checklists to support account associates when developing and optimizing campaigns.

They continue to pursue training and education on the topics for their employees. Recently, they hosted Microsoft’s inclusive marketing training via video call to over 60 employees, covering their Digital Delivery and Strategy & Planning teams, representing all their top tier clients. With a high level of engagement from employees with the program, they are well on their way to ensuring all employees have a strong foundation in inclusive marketing practices and can clearly communicate the benefit to clients. 

Merkle is also sparking positive change industry-wide as co-founder of the Conscious Advertising Network, an organization that highlights the positive choices that advertisers and agencies can make together.

Partnering to make a difference

Microsoft Advertising has been a vital partner in helping Merkle’s clients achieve their business goals. “Microsoft Advertising's audience-layered approach to all of its products and its platform is a perfect fit for what we do as an agency,” says Lewis. The Microsoft Advertising platform enables Merkle to collaborate more effectively across the company. Plus, innovations like LinkedIn profile targeting and product audiences position them to drive greater value for their customers. 

Thomas Byrne, EVP of agency services in Europe for Merkle, says that their relationship with Microsoft feels like a true partnership that has enabled them to deliver strong performance. “It's never felt like there was a commercial agenda. It was much more about ‘how do we use the platforms available to do things that are increasingly constructive.’ And that actually unlocks the value of partnership.”

Collins calls the partnership open and collaborative. “Microsoft provides us with the ability to run really effective paid ads for our clients…. But also, Microsoft trusts us to provide valuable feedback about how they can improve their platforms and their systems,” says Collins. 

“It's not about just checking a box,” concludes Raman Jhooti, Account Director for Microsoft Advertising. “Merkle has really gone above and beyond business to ensure that they can install inclusive marketing within the agency culture, but also their day-to-day activities.”
As part of our joint business plan with Microsoft Advertising last year, we wanted to move beyond focusing on just products and platform. We really wanted to focus on people—and by people, I mean our employees, our clients, their customers, and our partners in the industry.

— Richard Lewis, Head of Internal Excellence, Merkle UK