Mulryan/Nash vet out on own

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Paul poux, principal and founder of Poux Co., New York, considers himself very lucky.

A year and a half ago, the 37-year-old left Mulryan/Nash, New York, a seasoned ad agency specializing in the gay market that closed late last year. Mr. Poux started his own agency with one client, Alize. The Kobrand Corp. cognac cordial brand went with him when he left Mulryan/Nash.

"How nice was that," says Mr. Poux, whose agency bills $1.5 million. "It's small. But it's a start."

ONCE DOMINATED

Agencies such as Poux are among a handful of gay-oriented shops that have popped up over the last year to compete in a market that was mostly dominated by Mulryan/Nash and Rivendell Marketing, a Westfield, N.J.-based newspaper and magazine rep that also tracks spending in the category.

After Mulryan/Nash folded, its clients sought out some of these newer agencies. One such client, Subaru of America, retained Poux. Other Poux clients include New York and CityStuff.com.

Mr. Poux says he learned a lot from his six years at Mulryan/Nash. "Gay anything makes people feel uncomfortable," he says. "Sometimes I call up potential clients and, to remind them who I am, I say, `I'm the gay guy.' It gets them laughing, and we can then focus the discussion on marketing."

`WHATEVER IS BEST'

He says he focuses on bringing mainstream corporations into the gay market to help them "get a lot of bang for their marketing dollar.

"I like to do whatever is best for the brand. We cover outdoor, PR and special events."

For Alize, he signed the brand on as sponsor of "Gay Tupperware Party," a New York event he says drew 300 people. "You can't imagine how these gay men and women are crazy about Tupperware."

Looking for opportunities to get drinks in the hands of consumers, Alize sponsored "Malibu Beach Party," an African-American gay weekend in Malibu, Calif., says Mr. Poux, adding that the event attracted 11,000.

"You wouldn't really know about these events unless you were connected to the community," he says. "You get a lot of value by using a gay agency because they have these relationships as well as the expertise."

That is also what Susan Nolan, marketing manager at New York, says. "We felt that a creative person who worked in the market [and] knew the market would be able to execute [our campaign] the best." The magazine ran subscription cards in MetroSource, a New York gay magazine, to lure readers to its own publication.

TOOK THREE CONCEPTS

She says the magazine only needed one ad geared toward the gay community to run in MetroSource, but Mr. Poux came back with three concepts. "We liked all three and took them."

One ad said, "Shopping, dining, nightlife. Every alternative in every issue." "We were looking for subtle, but not subtle in every way," says Ms. Nolan. "It could go either way."

Good gay advertising, Mr. Poux says, "doesn't have to have a picture of a gay couple in it. What it can do is communicate more subtly that it has a gay sensibility.

During the recent Millennium March, Poux broke Subaru ads created by Moon City Productions, Los Angeles, on bus shelters in Washington's DuPont Circle area, a neighborhood with a high gay concentration.

"We decided that putting ads outdoor during such an exciting weekend would generate a lot of buzz," Mr. Poux says.

When CityStuff.com, which sells food and fashion products, came to Poux to get the word out to the gay community about its services, it didn't have the money for advertising, says Mr. Poux, who decided the Web company would benefit more from a PR campaign to the gay media.

"We called [gay] papers in 10 different cities and got them into the holiday gift guides. In cities like Chicago, we had the Windy City Times and the Chicago Free Press and Gay Chicago all write something. Although it's hard to track gay consumers specifically, CityStuff was happy with the numbers they got during Christmas. I am now doing all their public relations, not just their gay PR."

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