PR Giant Edelman Gets a Boutique Look With Ruth

Full-Service Shop Rolls Out on Its Own With Ambition of Handling Any Part of Media Mix

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NEW YORK ( -- When Savers, a national for-profit thrift-store chain, launched its flagship store in Seattle last March, it did so with the help of a fully integrated campaign. The media plan for the multichannel effort included radio spots, print inserts, collateral handouts, a radio remote, signage, media and consumer relations, blogger outreach, point-of-sale materials and an email campaign all handled by one agency, Ruth, a new brand integration boutique back by PR giant Edelman.

Patrick McGuire, Edelman's former U.S. creative lead, will head the shop.
Patrick McGuire, Edelman's former U.S. creative lead, will head the shop.
The agency, named after Edelman founder and Chairman Daniel Edelman's wife, has been operating within the independent PR company for the past two years under the banner of Edelman Creative, and it launched officially Oct. 1. In that time it has worked on campaigns for a number of Edelman's premier clients, such as Abbott Laboratories, Kraft Foods, eBay, Starbucks, PepsiCo, SC Johnson and Unilever, while building its own roster, which includes Wal-Mart Stores, Johnson & Johnson, Newell Rubbermaid and the World Bank Group.

With the exception of media buying, Ruth will have the capabilities to tackle any part of the marketing mix. The agency has produced direct-mail efforts, TV and radio spots, outdoor executions, print ads, consumer brochures, pop-up stores, and it has assisted in the development of media plans for clients. It also manages traditional PR and social-media campaigns and even does executive speech writing. On the campaign for Savers, Ruth worked with Merlino Bauer Media on the media-buying component.

The shop will be headed by Patrick McGuire, Edelman's former U.S. creative lead who first began working with Edelman back in the 1980s. In 1991, he left to form his own agency in Seattle, which was then acquired by Edelman in 1999. Ruth will have offices in Chicago, New York, Seattle and Washington.

With the agency consolidation trend among marketers still going strong and some advertisers looking to house all marketing disciplines under one holding company roof, Mr. McGuire believes Ruth can provide the solution many marketers are looking for.

"People have talked about integration for the 30 years I have been in the business, and some have said that it's just not possible, but I don't agree with that," Mr. McGuire said. "It's not easy, and you need a resonant idea that can be interpreted across the media mix while moving people to action. But it also has to be cost efficient, and that's part of what's driving marketers to consolidate resources."

And Mr. McGuire said the agency is competing against all types of shops for business. It's currently in a number of pitches battling against ad agencies, branding firms, PR firms and events firms.

In two years time, the agency has doubled in size to 70 employees. Ruth's staff is made up of specialists in editorial, copywriting, art direction, video production and design as well as creative directors.

Matt Harrington, Edelman's U.S. president-CEO, said Ruth's business and body of work has grown significantly over the past two years, and that now is the time to "articulate, more clearly in the marketplace, just what the offer we want and what aspirations we have for Ruth are."

Mr. Harrington said that while Ruth has built a business that can and will stand on its own, it also provides a "whole other side of what clients" can expect from Edelman.

"We have not had folks with those titles inside Edelman," Mr. Harrington said. "It's a very logical adjacent business that will integrate well with Edelman, and it will allow us to go into an expanded direction."

Some of Ruth's work for Edelman clients includes an engagement-based program for eBay called eBay on Location where sellers were able to meet face to face with potential buyers. EBay-branded trucks that traveled to various locations were also part of the effort.

"All of that eBay stuff is the kind of thing where, in the past, we would have gone to a vendor for," Mr. Harrington said. "Now we can turn to Ruth and say, 'Conceptualize this and do the schematic.'"

Mr. McGuire expects Ruth to be a good partner for clients big and small.

"There is an opportunity for us to go out in to the marketplace and find small to mid-size companies who can't afford five agencies or even three and are looking for a solution that is more in line with an engagement solution rather than a top-down solution," Mr. McGuire said. "We're finding we're a good fit for some of these companies and enterprises as well."

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