Impiric brand effort displays playful side

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Impiric, formerly Wunderman Cato Johnson, hangs onto its heritage while presenting a playful, more creative side to the business in a global print campaign debuting early next month.

The $2 million direct response campaign is the first global effort by the Young & Rubicam-owned shop that was founded in 1958 by Lester Wunderman. It's also the first branding campaign for the new agency name, though the WCJ initials still make an appearance in the ads. Impiric created the campaign in-house.

TAKING ON CHALLENGES

The ads, which will break in publications such as Business Week, Red Herring and The Wall Street Journal in North America and The Economist and Financial Times in Europe in May, position Impiric as willing to take on challenging customers with new marketing approaches.

The advertising portrays customers as jaded individuals unwilling to be influenced by even the most savvy marketers. A woman peers through the opening of a chained door in one of the ads with a quote next to her face declaring: "Thank you very much. Now go away." The response from Impiric is "Just the kind of customer we're looking for."

The campaign, which carries the tagline "The art and science of customer relationships," was designed to be more aggressive than a campaign that the old Wunderman Cato Johnson would have run, said Jane Walsh, senior VP-group creative director, and Mark Horn, VP-group creative director.

"If you think about Wunderman pre the name change, it's a little bit more of a conservative approach [to marketing]," Ms. Walsh said. "In the print, we wanted to address the new side of business to address the challenge of connecting with consumers straight on and have fun."

`WCJ' SURVIVES

But the new ads don't entirely disregard corporate history. The full line on the three ads states: "The art and science of customer relationships from WCJ."

"The issue was tackled early on in the branding to try to evaluate how much brand value there is in the WCJ moniker and when to use it and when not to use it," said Chris Cooney, exec VP-global marketing and communications at Impiric. "We believe that certainly the Wunderman name has a lot of cachet in the marketplace. The issue was unfortunately WCJ had been stereotyped over the years as a direct marketing production shop."

The February rebranding of WCJ is one of the final steps in Impiric CEO Jay Bingle's quest to promote the agency as more than a direct marketing shop.

Impiric now has global practice leaders in a variety of areas such as database, interactive, media and teleservices to coordinate customer-relationship management work globally, Mr. Cooney said.

While the two-month campaign will run primarily in North America and Europe, exposure in Asian and Latin American markets is planned for later this year.

"Jay has been here for two years now, and this is really the culmination of a vision he first started forming and articulating and implementing a good 18 or 24 months ago," Mr. Cooney said. "Eighteen months ago it was really great talk about a vision that made a lot of sense. Now what we're seeing with the rebranding effort, the repositioning and all the joint venture partners is the realization of that vision."

Others who worked on the new campaign include: Joe Cupani, chief creative officer; David Dalessandro, creative supervisor-art; Doug Feinstein, creative supervisor-copy; Ed Subitzky, VP-creative supervisor-copy; and Emese Szorenyi, designer.

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