Commerce marketing is the ability to create connected experiences across physical and digital environments

Rob Rivenburgh, CEO The Mars Agency, on the shift from 'transaction' to 'transformation'

by Carol Mason , AdForum (NYC)

The Mars Agency
Marketing/Creative Services
Southfield, United States
See Profile


Shopper marketing is an outdated and somewhat simplistic term for what has emerged as something much bigger than retail transactions. We spoke with Rob Rivenburgh to find out what modern commerce marketing can do for a brand.

What is The Mars Agency’s background – heritage, size, geographic size and scope of work?

We were founded 50 years ago by the late Marilyn Barnett, a pioneer in our industry, who saw a need for connecting brands and retailers with shoppers. We’ve grown into a global agency that thrives wherever there’s an opportunity to drive conversion.

We pride ourselves on the ability to create connected commerce experiences across physical and digital environments, across all forms of media, and around the globe. And we’re driven by our triple bottom line: growth for our clients, our people, and our communities.

Today, our footprint includes 650+ Martians spread across 21 multinational Commerce Hubs providing marketing solutions for some of the world’s most storied brands and retailers.

The Mars Agency’s positioning is ‘Clarity in Commerce.’ What does that statement mean for brands that are taking a look at MARS?

Over the years, we’ve felt the marketing world becoming increasingly complicated. We all have more data than ever before, there has been a vast proliferation of media options and, in our industry, there is also the question of how to maximize opportunities with the steadily growing array of retailer media networks. Adding to the fragmentation, the world has become more siloed with specialist agencies and service providers.

“Clarity in Commerce” represents our commitment to cutting through this fragmentation. We promise our clients a single agency solution that navigates the complex commerce ecosystem to drive better effectiveness and efficiency.

Where is your differentiation compared with other through-the-line and commerce agencies, and even the global networks who have a full-service offering?

We believe there are three differentiating factors that make us the world’s premier Connected Commerce agency.

First is our Marilyn technology platform. Marilyn is the first, and still the most effective, commerce marketing technology platform. It gives clients unique data and insights that improve their business results.

Second is our unrivaled retailer knowledge. Our deep and local connectivity to all of the world’s key retailers allows us to unlock unique programming opportunities and craft experiences that influence consumer behavior.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, is that we’re a single fully integrated solution under one roof. We have one P&L, not a network of fiefdoms. Our singular focus is doing whatever it takes to drive results and make our clients successful.

At AdForum’s recent Consultant Summit in NYC, you talked about your approach in servicing large clients through field teams. Can you share more about how these teams operate and what they do for your clients?

Our fully integrated customer hubs embed local strategy, creative, media and ecommerce specialists against each key retailer. We’ve built these cross-functional teams because our clients count on us to deliver breakthrough, integrated ideas that tap all parts of the retailer’s ecosystem.

Our field-based teams support all aspects of our clients’ customer operations: from annual planning to ecommerce optimization to media strategy and buying. Ultimately, our customer teams win when they help our clients build relationships with retailers that are transformational, not transactional.



The Mars Agency has an extremely impressive client list, including global brands Henkel, Bayer, Nestle, Samsung, to name just a handful. Do you work with these clients on a multinational scale, and if so, how does your service work within the frame of local market culture and nuances?

We work with many of our key clients on a multinational scale. As we’ve touched upon previously, one of our major objectives is to cut across siloes and connect commerce. That’s the hallmark to our approach with multinational clients: one agency, one team, with the shared objective of driving business growth.

Each team has experts across all agency functions on the ground in each market. That means that they not only know their discipline, they know the landscape. And our multinational agency teams are supported with in-depth local market research through the Marilyn platform that gives us unique insight into shopping behavior around the globe.

Congratulations on your amazing trajectory thus far! Where do you see The Mars Agency’s growth roadmap in the future?

We have been fortunate to grow across many fronts in recent years. We continue to accelerate our business through international expansion. We’ve entered into new client verticals. And we’ve grown with both new and existing clients with our Marilyn Marketing Technology Platform, in our ecommerce practice, and in our growing media function.

Even more than these specific strategies, our growth over the last 50 years comes from a culture of innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. We’re already planning the next generation of commerce capabilities in areas like Predictive Media Planning, Live Streaming and Contextual Commerce.

What excites me most about the agency is that our roadmap will evolve as rapidly as the changes in the broader commerce-verse.