MAKING COMPUTERS ZAP MARKETING DILEMMAS CKS PARTNERS MARK KVAMME

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The high-tech environment of California's Silicon Valley has left its imprint on Mark Kvamme. Not only was he reared in the heart of Silicon Valley outside San Jose, his father and his father-in-law are two of the five founders of National Semiconductor Corp. So it's no wonder Mr. Kvamme, who started at Apple Computer at 17 as a programmer, wound up taking high-tech magic and applying it to marketing.

"We said, `Let's start an agency that embraces change rather than reacts to change," says Mr. Kvamme, who formed CKS Partners in 1989 with Bill Cleary, also a former Apple employee.

The result is a company that's grown from two employees in a single office in 1987 to 120 employees in five offices, including one in London. Clients of the Cupertino, Calif.-based shop include United Airlines, American President Lines, and Tektronix, an Oregon-based electronics company.

"We built the agency around the model we knew-basically the Apple computer," says Mr. Kvamme, 33. "We were at Apple and we saw it. We said, `Why not?"'

The agency focuses on applying computer technology to marketing solutions. Its computer-aided design capabilities allowed United officials to see CKS' redesign scheme on images of planes and equipment, even ticket envelopes. American President Lines and other clients are able to produce revised collateral on an as-needed basis.

With programmers on staff, as well as millions of dollars in technical wizardry, CKS produced one of the first CD-ROM products, a 3-D design application. Now Mr. Kvamme has turned CKS into a virtual TV studio with the purchase of Apple's former in-house video production lab.

For Norwegian Cruise Line, the shop not only redesigned a cruise ship, it's working on the creation of all aspects of a resort, all the way down to its beach umbrellas, to be built on an island the client owns in the Caribbean.

It's not the usual ad agency job. But then, with today's technology and innovative thinking, marketing isn't business as usual.

"We are changing the way we communicate as a society, and we're part of it," says Mr. Kvamme proudly.

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