Mr. Ropes-the Ford Motor Co. marketing chief who left in 1999 for start-up zUniversity.com-met Mr. Bingle when the latter was CEO of Young & Rubicam's Wunderman Cato Johnson. Mr. Bingle joined the shop in 1998-which he morphed into Impiric (now Wunderman)-after selling his consultancy to Y&R in 1998.
Messrs. Ropes and Bingle, who have been consulting since the dot-com and Impiric fallouts, reconnected about six months ago, concluding that companies with growing customer databases needed a service provider to execute marketing strategies against that information. "[Marketers] have been out making these large investments in collecting and aggregating the customer data, but it was impossible to find a partner to work with that data, " Mr. Ropes said.
The partners intend to establish their company's initial critical mass by acquiring an organization that has a large technology platform able to support the integration of data analytics, aggregation and marketing.
"As our economy continues to slip, companies are becoming more cost-conscious," Mr. Bingle said. "We're interested in helping them determine what the appropriate spend level would be around telephone, e-mail and traditional direct-mail media and then providing the backbone to execute in any one of those media."
Brett Gow, an independent CRM consultant who worked with Mr. Bingle at Impiric, thinks the demand is there but said educating clients about the shift from media to data is critical to success. "The underlying concept is absolutely workable," Mr. Gow said. "It is a great vision. The action part is going to be the difficult piece."