Agency A-List: Starcom

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4. STARCOM
John Muszynski
  • A premium brand
  • Pushes accountability
  • Blazes trail in upfront
  • Key role in Wii launch
  • Big Samsung win
Since unbundling from their creative brethren late last century, media agencies generally have struggled to build potent brands of their own. The biggest exception to this has been Starcom.

A combination of thought leadership, new-business acumen and flawless execution has kept Starcom the premium brand among media agencies. In 2007, the Publicis Groupe-owned network continued to beat the drum for accountability in media and forge trailblazing deals, all while winning new business and tearing down agency silos to give clients what they really want: integrated marketing strategies.

Led by CEO John Muszynski, Starcom faced head-on the changing TV- and video-viewing behaviors of consumers. It became the first agency to purchase data from TNS Media Research for Charter Communications' digital-cable system in Los Angeles, which covers nearly 300,000 households. That link will get reports on nearly 400 TV networks with average second-by-second program and commercial ratings.

First minute-by-minute deal
Working with TNS put Starcom ahead of the curve in analyzing consumer insight and allowed the agency to make a number of 2007 upfront TV buys based on more-detailed viewer data -- key in the age of commercial-skipping. Combining the Charter data with Nielsen's All Minute data, Starcom negotiated the season's first minute-by-minute upfront deal with Discovery Communications.

New-business wins in 2007 included United Airlines, Del Monte and the $600 million Samsung account.

A quick look at the agency's work and results shows why Starcom continues to stand out in the media space. Working on one of the biggest recent product launches, the Nintendo Wii, Starcom not only helped sell the video-game console but also helped reinvent the Nintendo brand, which was struggling after five years of unimpressive sales for its GameCube. Starcom's goal was to create desire for Wii beyond just the core gamer audience, so it focused on parents, convincing them that Wii was a good form of household entertainment.

Starcom relied on trusted media sources for parents, such as the Food Network and TV Guide broadband video, to complement 30-second spots, and it developed custom content. In one deal, Wii was placed in HGTV's gift guide. Moms were targeted in the magazines they read: Family Circle gave tips on hosting a "Wii Family Fun" night in one issue. The results speak for themselves. Nine months after its debut, Wii was still sold out throughout the country.

Another Starcom 2007 highlight came with the launch of Miller Chill, Miller Brewing Co.'s Mexican chelada-style beer. Starcom relied heavily on sampling and out-of-home placement to drive a word-of-mouth campaign, as well other innovative placements . After the nationwide launch, Miller Chill had already met 81% of its first-year goal after three months.

Starcom thought leadership extended beyond just media deals when it became part of a joint effort between parent organization Starcom MediaVest Group, Leo Burnett and Digitas to create one central agency on shared clients. Let's just hope being part of the Insight Factory doesn't dilute that Starcom brand.
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