Marketing via temps: 'In-sourcing' big business at GM, AT&T

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Forget outsourcing. The newest buzzword in marketing is in-sourcing, as top advertisers turn over their marketing to temps.

AT&T and General Motors Corp. are just a few of the companies using "in-sourcing," a recruitment model popular in Europe, which sees temporary staff drafted to become part of the in-house team or let go as a bad quarter or a slow cycle might dictate. While corporate headquarters might be reluctant to release budgets for additional staff, or even to maintain current staff, in-sourcing gives marketers a way to fulfill their needs and keep staff off the payroll.

Chicago-based recruitment firm CPRI is providing the staff with budgets that are coming out of existing areas. "When they can't get approval to hire headcount, they can take it out of advertising, promotion or direct marketing. When they hire us, it doesn't come out of SGA (Sales, General and Administration)," said CPRI CEO Sean Bisceglia, a former Leo Burnett Co. executive.

AT&T's VP-marketing communications, Tim Omaggio, based in Morristown, N.J., has consolidated all marketing-communications recruitment with CPRI and uses between 30 to 35 of its staff for advertising, direct mail and interactive projects.

`no one can tell'

"The staff are co-located at AT&T and are part of the mainstream. They work with our advertising agencies and no one can tell. Typically they are here one, two or three years," Mr. Omaggio said. "You need a lot of flexibility in telecom with things you need to execute. ... We can go up or down" as projects dictate.

CPRI, which has offices in Chicago, New York, Dallas and Detroit, is also working with General Motors Corp., one of 37 clients in total. GM signed on in 2000 and uses anywhere between 12 and 35 employees at a time. CPRI supplies research and database staff to the auto giant, and has provided 29 associate brand managers to a large package-goods company, which, due to confidentiality issues, it won't identify.

Mr. Bisceglia, who bought into CPRI a year ago, has remade the company whose name stands for Corporate Project Resource Inc. He's hired new management, including Marty Brennan, a former 141 Worldwide executive, who is now chief operating officer. Mr. Bisceglia owns 65% of the 8-year-old venture with Chicago-based investment vehicle, William Blair & Co. holding the balance.

To give some idea of the popularity of CPRI's business model among marketers, the company's revenues are up 60% in 2003 to $7.9 million and are on target to hit $15.5 million by the late 2004, according to Mr. Bisceglia. CPRI employed 220 in 2003 and is projecting 400 by year's end.

keeping teams intact

When asked what's in his model for employees who clearly would prefer more job security, Mr. Bisceglia said part of the company's mission is to help marketers keep teams together and that CPRI is also providing health benefits. "Marketers are gun-shy and apprehensive. The issue is they have to have cost containment for employees and they don't want to fire them," he said.

While the company doesn't claim to be in the business of hiring senior-level marketing strategists, they are providing staff that can execute. Alexander Swan, a former director-marketing research who spent 15 years at Dr Pepper, is now with CPRI as research manager in the consumer strategies and insight division of a major food company.

talent pool

AT&T's Mr. Omaggio said: "They have a broad range of talent and they can get people quickly, and they are experienced people." Of the 3,800 resumes CPRI receives a month, 5% make the cut. Management not only combs sites such as Monster, HotJobs and consumer package-goods job site to find the talent, they also tap MBA programs.

Mr. Bisceglia claims that an average billing rate is $80 an hour, with staff staying, on average, around five to six months on assignment. "Post Sept. 11, marketing was the first to go and the last thing to come back. As I talk to executives they are under pressure to rebuild marketing, but on a variable, flexible basis."

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