INTERVIEW: Tracy-Locke CEO, Creative Chairman Mike Lovegrove

Tracey-Locke
(Mike Lovegrove has big plans for Tracy-Locke)

Last month, Tracy-Locke introduced a new brand identity centered around the belief that there is no commerce problem in the world that creativity cannot solve.

The move came on the heels of the agency winning two gold and one silver Effie awards in the Omnichannel Shopper Solution and Multi-Retailer Shopper Solution categories. The wins solidified Tracy-Locke’s track record of creative innovation that uniquely positions the agency to deliver compelling commerce to the marketplace.

As part of its people-first rebrand, the agency is reintroducing the hyphen to its name as a symbol of its people, who are all co-founders of the agency’s future. The small-but-mighty hyphen represents the agency’s integrated yet independent approach that fosters a creative work environment where everyone has a voice and seat at the table.

Driving the strategic and creative vision of the move and more is Mike Lovegrove, CEO and Creative Chairman of Tracy-Locke.

Mike is a firm believer in the power of creating compelling work that compels people to buy. Starting as a junior art director more than 20 years ago, Mike has helped evolve Tracy-Locke’s capabilities to become an award-winning global commerce and communications agency and an integral part of the Omnicom Commerce Group, working with clients such as PepsiCo, LEGO, Godiva and Diageo.

Under Mike’s leadership, Tracy-Locke has built a people-first culture ensuring everyone has a voice and seat at the table. Alongside his career, Mike is passionate about traveling the country to cheer on his son’s hockey teams and spending New England winters snowboarding with his wife, and two daughters.

Reel 360 News had a chance to catch up with Mike and discuss the move and more at Tracy-Locke.

Exciting things seem to be happening at Tracy-Locke!

Definitely, it’s a really exciting time for us.

It’s interesting that you put the hyphen back in Tracy and Locke. What was the thinking behind doing that?

The hyphen traces back to our roots when our founders, Shelley Tracy and Raymond Locke, first joined forces. As a grocery merchant and a creative advertiser, Tracy and Locke believed they were better together. The hyphen in the company’s original logo symbolized their trusted collaboration and co-founders’ mentality.

When we started talking about our rebrand, we knew we wanted to keep a foot in the past, with a laser focus on driving the future where partnerships and integration of brand and commerce marketing continue to grow in importance. Our updated brand was designed to reflect this with the hyphen being a manifestation of our belief that everyone has a voice and seat at the table.

What kind of a message do you hope the new (old) name sends to clients and to those in the advertising industry?

While it’s not a new name, Tracy and Locke co-founded a new approach to business that merged their sales and marketing experiences forming what we say was the “Original Commerce Agency.” We’re proud of that foundation and continue to build on it every day.  

Our relentless focus on the future and willingness to embrace innovative thinking and forge new capabilities is what’s kept us and our clients ahead of the commerce curve for more than 100 years. We bring an unmatched level of empathy, technology and creativity to design experiences that compel conversation and conversion, building brands at the speed and scale of commerce.

Can you explain what People First means to you?

We’re building the agency we always wanted to work for, with the people and partners we always wanted to work with. Tracy-Locke is a blend of talented individuals with unique strengths, experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds who are the driving force behind the work we do for our clients.

While Tracy and Locke were co-founders of the agency, it’s up to us to be co-founders of its future. Our people-first approach reflects our commitment to honor each person’s role as a co-founder by giving everyone the tools, the runway, and the trust to make an impact.  We want everyone to behave as if their name is on the door.


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What opportunities do you see for the new rebrand?

We are receiving a ton of positive traction from clients and the industry around our new positioning, “We Are Compelling Commerce.” It solidifies our belief that we exist to create commerce through compelling work that compels people to buy.

This space has the potential to lead to some of the most innovative, creative and culturally insightful work and we want to thread that needle through it all. This is the start of a new and exciting chapter for Tracy-Locke, and we see a lot of potential for our new offerings that enable us to embed the commerce full funnel and shorten the distance between other marketing efforts and conversion.

How do you see the agency changing itself in five years and how do you see yourself evolving with it?

It’s hard to say exactly how the agency will change in the next five years, and I think that’s exciting. Change is the constant we are mastering. The next generation has a unique perspective, and I see a great opportunity in helping build them up. I see myself as a change agent to help enable and foster an agile, intrapreneurial reality at Tracy-Locke.

It’s all about opening the right doors for diverse perspectives and new ideas to grow, and it’s something myself and our executive leadership board are intentionally focused on. We have a people-first approach that aims to champion and inspire the next generation to shape the agency’s future and grow with the industry as it continues to evolve.

Congrats on the Effie Awards!  Can you explain the strategy that went into the Pepsi/Detroit campaign?

Thank you! We are so proud that we swept the Omnichannel Shopper Solution category with such meaningful work. Our Pepsi “Full of Detroit Soul” campaign was born out of Pepsi’s “Locally Even Better” approach to business — getting closer to consumers, not just geographically, but emotionally and psychologically. As a long-standing member of the Detroit community, we saw an opportunity for Pepsi to change the negative stereotypes surrounding the city which was affecting its people.

We knew that Detroit was thriving – full of amazing artists, talented musicians, and culinary geniuses. So, we created an omnichannel campaign that shined a light on Detroit’s creative community. We turned our media into a canvas to tell their stories, drove traffic to Black-owned eateries during Restaurant Week and delivered the local spirit on 313 Day.

Our “Full of Detroit Soul” campaign helped to further deepen the connection between Pepsi and the city of Detroit.

What are the dream awards you would like to see Tracy-Locke achieve while you’re CEO?

Consistently winning in award shows like the Effies means a lot to us and our clients as it recognizes overall creative effectiveness in driving conversion.  That said, we’re continuing to push commerce and creativity together, and have an eye on Cannes in 2023. While industry recognition is great, we’re focused on creating best-in-class work that delivers results for our clients every day.

Can you explain more about what compelling commerce means to you?

For me, compelling commerce means that commerce work doesn’t have to look and feel transactional. It’s work that drives conversion and conversation, embraces strategy and creativity, is informative and innovative, and gets you to buy into a brand and buy a product. Commerce can be about more than selling, it can be compelling.

Take us through the agency’s new portfolio of offerings for brands.

Just as our people-first approach guides our business, being people-centric guides our work. Generally, commerce solutions have depended on tried-and-true levers that help drive volume. However, to inspire growth, we have developed solutions that not only speak to what people need but what they want as their expectations have changed.

Today people expect the companies, brands, and products they engage with to reflect their values and live the way they do. They are more willing to purchase products that reflect their lifestyle, are culturally relevant, and reflect their social and societal values. 

Our new specialty offerings such as Earned Commerce, Sustainable Commerce and Inclusive Commerce are integrated, full-service commerce solutions inspired by people’s new expectations and needs, making them much more personal.

What do you think Shelly Tracy and Raymond Locke would say about the agency’s direction?

I believe they would be proud of what we have accomplished and see the power of their original collaboration.  I think they would say that we must keep innovating on behalf our clients, industry, and people to continue to drive our success.

Tracy started as a grocery merchant. If Omnicom is supermarket what aisle(s) would we find Tracy-Locke in?

Tracy-Locke wouldn’t be in just one aisle, or just in-store. We would be across every channel of commerce as we embed commerce in everything, in-store, online, and across platforms.

From our marketing science to customer experience to design & technology – we utilize our proprietary tools, technology, and offerings to craft solutions that deliver against our clients’ priorities, build their brands, and of course always move in the direction of the checkout.

What’s next for T-L?

We’ve repositioned and redesigned our brand, evolved our vision, and empowered our people. Now it’s time to put it all to work – for our clients, brands and industry. We Are Compelling Commerce™.


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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360 News. Contact him at colin@reel360.com or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1

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