Y&R Spin-off Calls Win a 'Definining Moment for Us'

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NEW YORK (Adage.com) -- LG Electronics USA consolidated its $70 million account with BrandBuzz, New York. The win comes a year after the ad agency was spun out of Y&R Advertising.

The nod from LG "is a defining moment for us," said Rick Eiserman, the agency's CEO. It brings "numbers and clout," and there's the possibility that thanks to the account, there could be BrandBuzz offices opening in Toronto and Mexico City.

The agency started in early 2000 on the back of Y&R, Mr. Eiserman said, as an alternative to Y&R's more traditional menu. BrandBuzz now has its own media, planning and creative departments, while TV production is handled by outside vendors. The agency, with just more than 50 employees, at one time shared several accounts with Y&R, including Sony Consumer Electronics and Jaguar, but now co-operates with Y&R on only one: Cadbury Schweppes. Other accounts include Twinings Tea and New York Sports Clubs.

Avoiding a client conflict
Moving LG to one agency operation also helps BrandBuzz's parent, WPP Group, sidestep conflicts with its newly won global account, for Samsung, now handled by multiple WPP agencies, including JWT and Berlin Cameron. Previously, LG's business was split among numerous WPP-owned agencies, including Marstellar Advertising, Ogilvy & Mather and JWT. LG's relationship with BrandBuzz began in 2001, when it created campaigns for LG appliances and cellphones. The decision to put BrandBuzz in charge of all advertising for products sold in North America comes at a crucial time for LG as well.

LG Electronics USA, whose parent company is headquartered in South Korean, competes against more established brands like General Electric Co. in appliances, Nokia and Motorola in mobile phones, and Sony and Panasonic in TVs, and is pushing hard to gain market share in North America.

"LG is not yet established here," said Graham Turner, executive creative director at BrandBuzz. "We're giving LG one voice and one behavior in North America."

"They understand all of our customers, whether it is a retailer like a Best Buy or a Home Depot, or a mom or dad," said Daniel Lee, LG's director of marketing.

Phone as fashion
A campaign broke during New York City's Fashion Week last month with a media-neutral approach, which communicated the idea of "phone as fashion" in multiple media, from out-of-home ads and print and TV to sponsorships and product seeding. The ads showcased LG mobile phones as fashion accessories, but the creative also included a viral component. A call to phone numbers printed in the ads greeted callers with messages and rewarded some for their effort with free phones. The agency also keeps a group of A-list celebrities supplied with the latest models of LG phones, updated quarterly.

"Advertising and marketing is not brain surgery, but there are many components involved," Mr. Lee said. "A 360-degree strategy is important when you want to push in so many areas."

Significant hurdle
While the LG business means growth in revenue and staff for the agency, some believe BrandBuzz's most significant hurdle is developing a notable body of creative work.

"Having the big client alone won't do it. Doing great work that's ultimately admired and sought after is what builds stature and reverence for a company," said consultant Michael Keeshin of MagiKbox, Greenwich, Conn.