Campbell execs launch startup for BK

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Burger King is the sole client of a brand consultancy to be spun out of Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis.

Two executives from the Interpublic Group of Cos. agency, Dick Lynch, exec VP-account planning and Kate Richardson, senior VP-account services, will open Go, Minneapolis, on July 1. According to an internal agency memo, Burger King is its sole client.

Burger King CEO Brad Blum, six months into his tenure, has made the fast feeder's marketing a priority. Executives with knowledge of the move said Go will drive the brand vision from the menu to calendar planning to the customer experience.

`no quick fixes'

"This is the kind of help Brad believes he needs because he knows what he's up against," said one executive close to Mr. Blum. In a recent Dow Jones News report, Mr. Blum said that Burger King's traffic and sales are still declining with "no quick fixes" in sight. Burger King did not return calls. Mr. Lynch wouldn't confirm Go's client roster, but he did confirm the duo's mission is to "identify the brand's driving insight, and then use it to activate all the brand's consumer touch points," he said. "Brands do a great job finding consumer insights and applying them through advertising, but Kate and I have found that very rarely were those insights applied very well to all other consumer touch points."

In the works for more than a year, Go could have been a unit within Campbell-Mithun, but by going it alone, they created more freedom and latitude to work, according to Mr. Lynch. "We're completely independent so we can interact with all [the parties on a brand]," he said. "What we've demonstrated is the unique ability to infiltrate an infrastructure in a non-threatening way ... and to breakdown barriers" that would otherwise hinder such cooperation.

brand steward

It is unclear exactly how the team will work with roster shops including adult agency WPP Group's Y&R, New York, sibling interactive unit VML, Kansas City, Mo., and sales promotion unit Wunderman, Chicago, among others. But one planning executive with knowledge of the situation surmised Go will act as brand steward rather than compete with roster shops for executing the creative product. "While most agencies claim to be solutions-neutral, when you're stuck in an agency environment, the first thing you push is what you know," said the planner. "They may be able to be successful at real integration because they truly have no [financial] ties to the vehicle that's used."

checks and balances

John Greening, associate professor, Northwestern University's integrated marketing graduate program, sees the move as an extra level of checks and balances to ensure success considering the relatively short timeframe Mr. Blum has to turn around the brand. "While [ad agencies] provide all of the integrated tools out of the tool box, it still seems as though the ad idea is the idea that wags the rest of the dog. This is not a matter of trust, but [Mr. Blum has] got to get it right the first time and this may improve his odds of success."

Mr. Blum has chosen a team of trusted executives as his strategic right hand. Ms. Richardson has ties to Mr. Blum going back to his days at General Mills.

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