ITT makes a splash with unified branding at industry events

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ITT Corp., a global engineering company with products including fluid technology, defense electronics, and motion and flow control systems, wanted to present a unified brand message within the water technology industry.

Its fluid technology business, with such brands as A-C Pump, Bell & Gossett, Flygt and Goulds Industrial, accounts for nearly 40% of ITT's $7.8 billion in annual sales.

"One of the things we're really focused on is harnessing the power of the ITT brand, which is a powerful brand with a long history, along with our product brands that are very well-known to our customers," said Angela Buonocore, VP-director of corporate relations at ITT.

"We wanted to position our company as one ITT, with a unified message in how we go to market, as well as selling and capitalizing on our valuable trademarks."

So ITT worked with its advertising agency, Doremus, New York, on developing an integrated campaign to position ITT as the world's leading water equipment provider, using water industry trade shows as the central venue to reach its core audiences.

Previously, ITT had exhibited a number of different brands at leading water industry events, often placing the booths in separate locations on the trade show floor.

"A lot of companies are competing for the customer's attention at trade shows. We wanted to unify all of our brands together and break through the clutter," Buonocore said.

To help ITT achieve this goal, Doremus developed an integrated trade show strategy using unusual media placements to drive traffic to the ITT booth and raise awareness of the brand.

"We saw the trade show venue as an opportunity to effectively reach a number of ITT's stakeholders—customers, prospects, investors, employees, government officials and influencers—who all come together at events like this," said Dick Bondy, senior VP-account management supervisor at Doremus.

ITT participates in several international water trade shows, including Aquatech, which was held in Amsterdam last October, and WEFTEC, which was held in Dallas in October.

"We were less interested in the packages that trade shows make available, such as the gold and platinum packages where they put your logos on the screens and in meeting rooms," Bondy said. "We wanted to create media opportunities in and around the events themselves that presented a way of making a statement about the ITT brand."

So with a strategy of "hijacking" the Aquatech show in Amsterdam, Doremus used unique media placements, such as a 66-by-20-foot billboard in the main transportation center leading into the convention center, 15 vertical banners lining the entrance to the convention center and ads on the stairs leading into the trade show—all with a unified message about ITT.

Inside the exhibit area, ITT had five brands together in one booth under a single, unified message.

In addition to the trade show presence and outdoor ads, ITT also ran print ads in the Aquatech directory.

"The ads were designed to identify ITT as a leader in the water industry and, secondarily, to drive people to the booth," Bondy said.

The campaign also had an online component, with photos from the show and news around the event on the ITT Web site.

The integrated campaign achieved the objective of raising awareness of the ITT brand, as well as improving perceptions of specific brand attributes.

Based on pre- and post-show research conducted in association with Aquatech, respondents' perception of ITT as a market leader or an important player in the industry went from 51% before the show to 70% after the show. The research was based on a survey of about 400 trade show attendees.

Also, ratings of ITT's brand attributes improved, including technology innovation (from 30 to 52 points); high quality (from 38 to 48); corporate reputation (from 38 to 46); and having unique features (from 23 to 42).

At the WEFTEC show in Dallas, Doremus created other unique media placements, including shrink-wrapping buses with ITT ads.

That campaign was also successful. Based on pre- and post-show research, the perception of ITT as a market leader jumped to 90% from 80%.

ITT is continuing its water industry trade show activities this year, tied into its sponsorship of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. ITT is providing water pumps that will be used to power the whitewater courses at the Games, and is also sponsoring the Chinese canoe-kayak team.

This year, ITT is participating in several trade shows in China, including the Guangzhou Water Show and Beijing Water Congress. At the shows, it will have members of the Chinese canoe-kayak team available to display their boats and sign autographs.

"It is important for us to provide a big brand presence and use the value of the corporate brand to create a point of differentiation," Buonocore said. "It is a very different approach in how you make your budget go further and do things in a different way to achieve your objectives."

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