Marketers to Houston: BBDO has landed

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BBDO, Houston, launched as a service office for Texaco products, has struck oil with other marketers of late.

The 3-year-old outpost recently bolstered its billings by almost 20% through new client gains. In the last several months, the agency nabbed assignments from Shell Chemicals' Corterra Fibers, Cooper Industries and OfficeDomain. In addition, the office won a competitive pitch to snare Pizza Hut's radio business nationally.

BILLINGS HIT $70 MILLION

The Houston office, which began as a small shop to service Texaco's gasoline products and Havoline Motor Oil, gained an estimated $10 million in billings from those accounts. The agency now claims about $70 million in billings.

The Houston outpost was created in August 1997, following BBDO Worldwide's win of Texaco's product and retail account.

"We really started from scratch," said BBDO exec VP-managing director Richard Kronengold. "We were ordering chairs and looking at drapes. We were at ground zero."

FULL SERVICE OFFICE

A year later, former marketing consultant Ann Iverson was tapped as managing director of the division. She said her charge was "to turn the office into a full-service, mainstream office."

Since Ms. Iverson joined, she's also concentrated on bulking up top management. In September 1999, she hired former N.W. Ayer & Partners Chief Creative Officer Pat Cunningham as executive creative director. Sharon Hatzel and Paul Hunt also joined as research director and media director, respectively. Ms. Iverson said the office now offers "a mixture of business-tobusiness and consumer" capabilities.

Although the Texas outpost spent its initial years focusing on Texaco, the new management team has become more assertive in its new-business initiatives. "We have a plan, and it's to grow," Ms. Iverson said. "It's been slow but careful. But now we can be more aggressive."

Mr. Kronengold, who oversees the Houston operation from New York for BBDO Worldwide added: "We have a huge opportunity here. We have the right people; this office is going to grow."

The agency will handle the branding assignment for Shell Chemicals' Corterra Fibers, creating print advertising and direct marketing pieces. Electrical products company Cooper Industries tapped BBDO, Houston, for a corporate research and branding assignment. And OfficeDomain hired the agency to create a print effort for its MessageASAP communications system.

PIZZA HUT PITCH

Although Pizza Hut is a client of BBDO's New York office, the Houston outpost had to vie for the national radio assignment in a competitive pitch against Valentine Radford, Kansas City, Mo.; Fogarty Klein & Partners, Houston; and Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, Wichita, Kan.

The office also got a foothold on Shell's roster after Shell and Texaco formed a 1998 joint alliance. BBDO, Houston, handles Shell's promotional business.

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