Kestnbaum moves up to front offices

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Kestnbaum consulting, the Chicago-based company specializing in strategic analytics for marketers, has been part of Young & Rubicam's Wunderman since the WPP Group-owned marketing services agency acquired it and database specialist KnowledgeBase Marketing two-and-a-half years ago.

But in the next few weeks, Kestnbaum will become a bigger part of Wunderman, setting up shop in top Wunderman offices around the globe.

Early next month the consult-ancy's 25 Chicago staffers will move into the Wunderman/ Y&R office there. Kestnbaum-trained consultants have already begun working in Wunderman's New York and London locations, and the expansion will continue in Frankfurt, Paris, Toronto, Sydney, Brazil, Argentina and China.

"I don't want to leave [Kestnbaum consultants] in the back room. I want to put them front row and center with our clients," said Wunderman Chairman-CEO Daniel Morel. "We're placing them closer to the account people because clients really understand that data will drive the market. You need those guys to be more embedded."

Full integration is the key, according to Kestnbaum President-CEO Clive MacLean, who joined the consultancy in May when it was considering opening its own offices in cities like New York and London to work with Wunderman agencies.

But Mr. MacLean thought separation would be counter-productive.

"As soon as you have separate entities with separate P&Ls and separate agendas ... the reality is there is no integration," Mr. MacLean said. "If this was going to be a material driver to Wunderman's success, and therefore in turn to our success, we needed to partner with them."

Kestnbaum and Wunderman will now share one financial reporting structure.

"Merging the analytics function with the direct marketing function, as well as integrating it with the various other channels makes a lot of sense," said Brett Gow, an independent customer relationship marketing consultant who worked at Impiric (now Wunderman) in 1999-2000. "You avoid the political as well as the delivery challenges. It just makes it a little more seamless between the various functions and eliminates the challenges associated with dis-integration."

Other marketing services agencies have data-analytics specialists, like Omnicom Group-owned Rapp Collins Worldwide's InfoWorks, Chicago. But InfoWorks is a separate operating unit, even though there is some staffing of people in Rapp's New York and Dallas offices to support clients there.

Analytics specialists are needed to solve "mathematically tough problems," said InfoWorks President Behram Hansotia. "This is a special skill set," he said, adding that Omnicom is discussing how to leverage InfoWorks across its network. "They're seeing that there's some good money over here."

Mr. Morel sees that too. "Data comes at a bargain, but knowledge really comes at a premium," Mr. Morel said, adding that bringing new capabilities to clients will help the agency expand existing relationships, which Mr. Morel holds as a higher priority than new-client acquisition. "By bringing [Kestnbaum] closer to the account team, you can infiltrate deeper into your clients."

"We need to be able to have cross-revenue," which comes from making the consultancy "part of the fabric of the agency," Mr. MacLean said.

And some clients are already using Kestnbaum. Wunderman, Chicago, for example, has already partnered with Kestnbaum on its work for Citibank and Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s The Great Indoors.

"We have a nice bench of people in the database area here in Chicago at Wunderman," said Steve Zammarchi, president-CEO of Wunderman Chicago. "By bringing the Kestnbaum organization over, which is very strong in the analytics area, it just strengthens our bench."

Kestnbaum will retain its name and brand identity, because "it is a very strong brand in the area of analytics," Mr. Zammarchi said. "It stays. It needs to stay."

But for Kestnbaum, which has been in business for 34 years, the juxtaposition with another powerful brand name-Wunderman-could help. Mr. MacLean hopes Kestnbaum, which will continue to handle non-Wunderman clients, will add categories to its roster of traditional direct marketers like catalogs and financial services.

"What we're hoping to do is use the Kestnbaum brand and reputation in association with the Wunderman brand to be able to position ourselves as a team together," Mr. MacLean said. "I think that you will see an evolved Kestnbaum coming out of this."

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