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Direct Agency of the year runner-up: G2DD

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It's been a little more than three years since WPP's Grey Group brought all its direct marketing, digital marketing and branding, and design capabilities under the global agency brand name G2. Since then its relationship marketing unit in the U.S., G2 Direct & Digital, has continued to hone its data analytics, database marketing and e-mail marketing services on behalf of such clients as software company Adobe Systems, printing-ink manufacturer Sun Chemical and data storage company NetApp.

New over the past year, however, has been the return of Wendy Lurrie (in October 2008) as the agency's president. She had previously spent seven years at Draftfcb where she was first general manager, then chief marketing and strategy officer. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, she spent 15 years with Grey in various executive positions.

Taking over from Larry Kimmel at G2DD, Lurrie undertook a reorganization of the direct agency around relationship management.

“It's been a challenging year, no question,” Lurrie said, concerning her time heading up an ad agency in the midst of widespread advertising and marketing retrenchment. “But I like [White House Chief of Staff] Rahm Emmanuel's quote, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.' “

Relationship management became the agency's prime focus for strategists, planners, program designers and Web site developers. G2DD also built a strategy group led by Marty Laiks, with planning, digital strategy, relationship-management program design and user experience groups reporting to him.

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“Relationship management is unique in commercial relationships, where it's all about the promises you keep, about delivering and exceeding against expectations,” Lurrie said. “We've observed that, in many agencies, there is a bias for strategy rather than execution. We wanted to elevate delivery to the same level as other functions.”

Aiding this initiative was the creation of an Office of Delivery Management, with on- and offline team directors Mike Asaro and Dan Gilkey, respectively.

G2DD added eight new accounts this year while enjoying expanded assignments from existing clients such as Adobe Systems. Initially handling just Adobe's database management, the agency was asked to develop campaigns to make the big creative solutions company more “customercentric and global”—no simple task for an already ubiquitous software brand. The agency is now gearing up to promote (via the recent acquisition of Omniture) Adobe's new Web analytics capabilities.

For telecom company Time Warner Cable, the agency promoted the b-to-c powerhouse as a significant player in the b-to-b arena as well. G2DD first identified the Time Warner brand's points of differentiation, then simplified its strategy with a single line: “You first, the technology follows.” Consistent graphic representations were developed and integrated into all communications, and a new response-focused brand campaign drove inquires and leads.

Meanwhile, Sun Chemical was suffering in 2008-09 along with its publishing clients, and lacked brand awareness and competitive differentiation. G2DD helped the company develop a new brand strategy, implement a digital marketing technique for lead collection and better utilize event marketing to engage audiences, collect leads and introduce the repositioned brand.

Recent industry honors include three Database Excellence Awards from the National Center for Database Marketing for the agency's work on behalf of Adobe. Other recent honors include Bronze Telly awards for the agency's “Sole Proprietor” and “Early Retirement” TV campaigns on behalf of Aetna, and a Webby for Web site development for pharmaceutical company Actonel. M

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