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URBAN THINK TANK TO TAP INFLUENTIAL POPULATION AREAS

By Published on .

Every week, more than 1 million people around the world move to urban areas. Leo Burnett USA has decided to follow them.

Vigilante, its New York urban marketing arm, this week kicks off a strategy group called Urban Think Tank. Its mission: tap into the beat of the growing and influential urban cosmopolitan population centers.

Urban Think Tank uses global city dwellers to provide in-depth knowledge of street trends. It also will produce for clients a quarterly report as well as informations on how to spark relationships and ideas for product development.

"Marketers need to really understand the urban epicenter and have a strategy as it grows and as its influence grows," said Marc Stephenson Strachan, a Vigilante chief marketing and operations officer and a principal, along with Chief Creative Officer Danny Robinson. "As a marketer, you need to be up on it. And it cuts across all socioeconomic, race and religion lines."

Located in SoHo, the group will be run by Stephanie Martin and Tamara Ghandour, each co-directors, who have been with Vigilante for several months. They previously teamed at brand consultancy Sterling Group, New York. While at Sterling, they worked on business for Kraft Foods, IBM Corp., Pepsi-Cola Co. and MTV Networks.

"First we defined urban marketing as 'the magnetic epicenter of diverse cultures that creates an outward flow of influence,' " Ms. Martin said. "So it starts as a geographic thing but expands into something bigger -- into a mindset."

Urban Think Tank, in addition to advising Vigilante and Burnett clients, will seek its own accounts. It currently is talking to prospective clients and is at work on several undisclosed projects.

The group plans to take marketers into cities and immerse them in the hottest clubs, city apartments or diverse neighborhoods.

"What's missing in traditional research is sometimes it loses the soul of the consumer," Mr. Robinson said. "We get as close to the consumer as you can get, and we get insights from them in the real world."

Vigilante has 10 clients, including Coca-Cola Co., Major League Baseball,

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