McCann's new unit helps deliver `total brand strategies' to clients
McCann-Erickson North America jumped into the events and sponsorship pool last week with the formation of Momentum IMC, a new unit of the New York-based ad agency.
The news set off alarms at some smaller shops and sports marketing agencies now representing McCann clients in events and sponsorships.
McCann's move is the first of many similar maneuvers expected in the next year as traditional ad agencies try to regain total strategic control over their clients' brands by taking back some of the grass-roots marketing action that has gone to specialty shops in recent years.
The IMC stands for Immediacy Marketing Communications, and Momentum IMC is starting off aggressively with plans to hatch ideas for new events for its clients, as well as create new sponsorship opportunities for brands.
Momentum's clients, for which McCann already handles advertising, include AT&T, General Motors Corp., Coca-Cola Co., Anheuser-Busch, Black & Decker Corp. and Sega of America. The list is expected to eventually include other clients and various sponsorable properties, said James Heekin, McCann North America's president.
The unit will devise marketing ideas for clients through three areas: Ideas & Promotions, Programs & Properties and Local Presence Marketing. Momentum will be included in all major brand war strategy sessions at McCann from now on, Mr. Heekin said.
Ads "only one part of mix"
"What we want to do is help our clients with total brand strategies, providing end-to-end support for all the ideas that go into reaching consumers these days," he said. "Advertising is only one part of the marketing mix, and we have to make sure we have all the capabilities to deliver everything in the mix."
McCann Managing Director Anthony Pace and Creative Director Mark Driscoll are co-heading the unit, headquartered in New York. Momentum is incorporating the 30-member McCann-Erickson Event Marketing in St. Louis. Momentum also has offices in Atlanta, with plans to open in California.
Momentum has been gestating within the agency for several months and has already created its first new sponsorable property called SportsLab, a traveling high tech "theme park" debuting next month. Offered first to McCann clients for sponsorship, SportsLab will provide hands-on product marketing opportunities for consumers during a nationwide tour.
From SnakeLight to road trip
Other examples of Momentum's event marketing acumen include the huge traveling SnakeLight vehicle devised this year for Black & Decker, the Coca-Cola "Red Hot Summer Road Trip" and the Sega Pico Bus. Each concept was derived from McCann's general brand advertising plan, customized to target specific audiences in local markets.
Mr. Pace said Momentum has no immediate plans to supplant marketing agencies already handling events and sponsorships for McCann clients.
"We wouldn't think of getting in the middle of any existing sponsor-property relationships," he said. "Our goal is to add value and maximize the brand marketing positioning everywhere our clients' brands are."
Copyright October 1995 Crain Communications Inc.