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Epsilon ad campaign highlights marketing

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Epsilon has kicked off the first companywide advertising campaign in its 38-year history in order to underscore the breadth of services it can now offer to customers and prospects.

The campaign caps a string of moves made by the database and direct marketing giant in the last 18 months to 24 months to augment its marketing capabilities and create an integrated, multichannel, marketing services company. On the data services side, it acquired CPC Associates and Abacus; on the e-mail side, it acquired Bigfoot Interactive as well as DoubleClick Email Solutions.

"Now we have the full suite of marketing services," said Michael Della Penna, chief marketing officer at Epsilon. That includes analytics and marketing technology, as well as agency services, data services and distribution services.

Called the "Questions and Answers" campaign, it initially includes print and online ads; enhancements to Epsilon's Web site; and collateral focused on critical questions for Epsilon clients to consider when marketing to their customers. The tagline for the campaign is "Customer insight realized"; it is slated to run through the end of the year. (The budget for the campaign was not disclosed.)

Each ad poses one so-called "critical question." In one print ad, the question is identified as "Question No. 257: First time in the store or first time this week?" The copy begins: "Is she a member of your loyalty program? What brought her in today?"

The ad goes on to describe Epsilon's loyalty offering, which helps brands to respond to and reward their best customers based on customer insights.

The ad includes a call to action, offering various ways customers can respond. Customers who call the 800 number listed, log onto the Web site or e-mail (info@epsilon.com) receive a complimentary copy of Epsilon's "Little Book of Big Questions," a 25-page booklet whose preface says, in part: "We're Epsilon, and we've made a living out of asking (and answering) all the right questions. We thought you might enjoy a few, so here's a little book of big questions and even bigger answers."

"The campaign is our opportunity to really put the pieces together and address the questions we've been hearing from marketers over the last couple of years," Della Penna said.

The campaign was created by Columbus, Ohio-based Ologie, a branding and marketing agency that is Epsilon's agency of record. "It's more than a campaign. It's a rebranding process for them," said Ologie Associate Creative Director Jeffrey M. Packard. "What came out of that process is a focus on benefits; not just what Epsilon does, but how they are improving clients' business."

A b-to-b version of the advertising, likewise centered around the questions, is in development as well. "It points to the data assets we have in the b-to-b space that help marketers understand who to reach and how to reach them," Della Penna said.

"It's a smart initiative," said Dave Frankland, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "They're branding themselves as a source of answers, and it gives the appearance of integration," he said.

Frankland said Epsilon wants to put an end to its being seen as an "order-taker."

"One of things they've done well—as have the likes of Merkle, Targetbase and KnowledgeBase—is that they are starting to look more like an agency than a service provider," Frankland said. "They're not an order-taker. The service bureaus long ago were order-takers. It was, `we need this number of names by this date, processed in this way.' Now they are asking questions in order to help the clients find better answers," he added.

A direct mail effort is set to be introduced at the beginning of next month, and an HR video to market internally to Epsilon employees will debut soon as well.

The direct mail is going out to a group of Epsilon's best customers to promote a new loyalty program, Della Penna said. The Insight Advantage Program will give participants access to thought leadership materials, offering exclusive research, webinars and events. A new Web site will allow early access to white papers and reports before they are generally distributed.

Event marketing, which will roll out later this summer, will include e-mail and direct mail to customers and prospects leading up to the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference in Chicago in October. "The campaign will flow through our event strategy as well," Della Penna said.

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