Campbell Mithun revamps agency in bid to diversify

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Campbell Mithun Esty is reorganizing as it seeks to diversify beyond its package-goods reputation into technology and health as well as non-traditional areas.

The Minneapolis shop, the country's 27th-largest, is dividing responsibilities into three areas: Packaged Goods & Special Segments (with the latter comprising kid and health specialties), Retail & E-Business and Technology & Services. Each unit represents about one-third of CME's $960 million in billings, according to President Les Mouser. He said the agency also seeks to boost its presence in direct, interactive, graphic design, promotions and public relations -- which now constitute a fraction of billings -- by increasing business from existing and new clients.

Don Kvam, 45, exec VP-group management supervisor, and John Hurst, 42, exec VP-chief creative officer, will head Packaged Goods & Special Segments. Clients include General Mills' Betty Crocker snacks, Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Depends and KB Gear Interactive digital cameras. The division in May picked up the $7 million account for Specialty Foods' Jose Ole frozen foods.


Mr. Kvam said all the clients in this unit share similarities -- presence in low-growth categories, reliance on new products, as well as a focus on health and kids -- and can benefit from shared CME knowledge.

"With those commonalities, by leveraging the shared learning and expertise across these common problems, you can really provide more value for those clients." he said.

The Retail & E-Business group, with clients such as Kmart Corp. and Internet service provider Verio, which moved its $15 million account to CME last week, will be run by Ginny Vonckx, 43, exec VP-director of retail and e-business, and Rick Gibson, 48, associate chief creative officer.

The Technology & Services group, which earlier this month added the $100 million account for H&R Block (see story at right), will be headed by Steve Wehrenberg, 44, exec VP-group management supervisor, and George Halvorson, 48, deputy creative officer.

The creative leaders of the units will report to Mr. Hurst, and management supervisors to Mr. Mouser, who in turn reports to Chairman-CEO Bill Dunlap.

"We are about integration, and this is an organizational way for us to kind of come together in cross-functional teams and have dedicated resources to clients that share both strategies and execution similarities and to develop centers of expertise around business and industry segments," Mr. Mouser said.


The agency, part of Interpublic Group of Cos., is looking to grow organically rather than through buying companies, Mr. Mouser said.

The reorganization is intended to beef up CME's direct and interactive marketing divisions as well as public relations and graphic design capabilities.

To that end, CME added Pedersen Gesk, a Minneapolis design consultancy, in March. Earlier this year, the shop also bought Irvine, Calif.-based Casanova Pendrill Publicidad (AA, Jan. 3), which specializes in Hispanic advertising.

Ms. Vonckx said the industry-specific categorization would work for CME, unlike for agencies that have tried it in the past, because those agency formulations were about five years premature.

"The integrated format -- with the kinds of media we have today and what clients are looking for [with the way the client goes to market] -- are far more greatly aligned," she said.

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