Wunderman adapts and thrives in digital age

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"Adapt and Thrive" is the name of a campaign that direct marketing agency Wunderman cooked up for its client Hewlett-Packard Co. It is also a fitting mantra for companies like Wunderman that have adapted and succeeded amid major changes as more marketers migrate to digital.

For that ability to adapt and thrive, posting double-digit revenue growth and delivering 23% of parent WPP Group's revenue in the first half, Wunderman is BtoB's 2007 Runner-Up Direct Agency of the Year.

The company's b-to-b clients include Chevron and Microsoft Corp.

"Adapt and Thrive," the HP campaign, which debuted in January, was created to entice customers to upgrade servers. Wunderman needed something that worked within HP's existing Adaptive Enterprise positioning and could be applied globally and across a disparate set of software partners.

The campaign—which takes Darwin's theory of evolution and adds fan-tasy—features plants and animals with body parts that have adapted to specific situations. For example, in one direct mail ad, the illustration is that of a woodpecker with a drill bit instead of a beak, drilling into a tree.

"It gets to this notion that adapting to new market situations is critical in the environment [that] business is in," said David Sable, vice chairman-COO of Wunderman.

Wunderman's goal was to generate qualified leads. It exceeded that, generating registration rates four times over target.

Sable said much of Wunderman's growth comes from b-to-b "and very much in the digital area." He noted that Wunderman this year promoted Mark Taylor to chief marketing technologist.

"We created that position because we wanted someone who would understand all of the technology from a marketing point of view," Sable said. "It's the marketing that drives technology, not the technology that drives marketing."

A Microsoft campaign touting a product prelaunch to developers and featuring a social networking component was introduced in March. Called "Faces," it drives developers to a site where they can download the product after uploading a picture of themselves. The software then morphs the face into the collection of all the other faces that have been uploaded.

"It's the ultimate face of all the developers in there," Sable said. "You are creating the ability for them to interact with new products and opportunities for you to listen to them."

Another campaign is Microsoft adCenter's "Smack-a-Goal," targeting jaded agency executives, search professionals and consultants, its prime prospects.

Ads appeared in print, direct mail and online.

Being the No. 3 paid search product, adCenter wanted to differentiate itself from the competition by conveying the message that adCenter users convert better than those on Google or Yahoo.

It did so with a playful, 3-D package that displays a picture of Search Master Steve, the face of adCenter's campaigns, with the following copy: "Here's something to help you hit your client's search marketing goals again and again." Inside is a paddle game—the old-school toy with the distinctive pink rubber ball on an elastic string—and more product information and a free offer.

Steve's head is featured on the paddle, along with a URL.

Campaigns like these reflect what Wunderman sees as its strength: Creating compelling campaigns, whether using traditional media or new media, always centers on the data.

"The difference between what we do and what general advertising does is, because we are focused on the buyers and the data around them, the channel has never made a difference to us," Sable said.

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