Agency Profile: iDeutsch

by , Sep 4, 2001, 12:00 AM
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In the mid ’90s, as traditional advertising agencies realized the marketing and advertising power of the Internet for their clients, they generally took two approaches to deal with this new medium. They either bought or merged with an interactive specialist, or they formed a standalone, interactive department of their own. Deutsch took the latter approach and is happy with the results.

Founded in 1969, Deutsch is a $1.7 billion full-service marketing and communications agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The agency has over 840 employees and offers clients an array of integrated services including Advertising, Media, Direct Marketing (directDeutsch), PR, Promotions and Events, and Youth Marketing (dRush). As recently as 1998, both Adweek and Advertising Age named Deutsch 1998 National Agency, with Adweek repeating the honors in 1999.

However, in 1995, it was clear to Chairman and CEO Donny Deutsch that to be the kind of agency that is “leaner, meaner, smarter, and faster than others,” they needed a full-service, totally integrated department that had the knowledge and passion for interactive. Thus, iDeutsch was born.

With the simple goal of “helping clients translate their offline brands into the online world,” iDeutsch, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, has quickly grown to the 32nd largest interactive agency in the country. To run a department of over 80 full-time employees, Deutsch needed someone with both the experience and drive to make it successful, so they tapped Fred Rubin as EVP, Director of iDeutsch, in part because of his 15 years of interactive, direct marketing, and consulting expertise. Previously as a senior partner at TBWA/Chiat/Day, he successfully built and implemented an interactive, marketing, consulting, and creative services business, devising web strategies for America Online, Absolut Vodka, and Barnes and Noble. Prior to TBWA, Rubin ran his own direct marketing consulting firm whose client roster included Chase Manhattan Bank and Ericsson. In addition to agency experience, he gained first-hand client-side knowledge from his most recent position as the VP of Marketing for Drinks.com.

“When I came here 18 months ago, my charge was to bring the highest degree of professionalism and credibility to iDeutsch, which Fortune 1000 clients have come to expect from traditional shops,” said Rubin. “In order to compete, we had to do a number of things. We needed top-notch strategy and creative, to upgrade our technology, and to improve our media planning and buying capabilities.”

With these changes, business has been on an upswing, with interactive assignments from Almay, Bank One, California Milk Advisory Board, DirecTV, Domino’s Pizza, Microsoft’s Expedia.com, Mitsubishi Motors, Pfizer, Snapple, and Verizon. “Donny’s guiding direction,” said Rubin, “is to be very client-focused, have strong points of view, and respect clients and their money. “The key to iDeutsch is that we are totally integrated with all the other departments of Deutsch—media, creative, PR. There is only one bottom line here: We are P&L channel-blind and this leads to great flexibility,” attested Rubin. “If the solution requires an interactive focus, fine; if it’s an advertising focus, fine. Just provide the right tool at the right time.”

“Multimedia deals like Time Warner are what the clients strive for. The strategic question is: How do you get to people? People are not single-channel viewers, but multi-channel, and you need to attack through all possible doors.” Further explaining the benefits of integration, Rubin continued, “I love the web, but I still love TV, radio, and going to the movies. We see these buys as not driving down the price, but driving up the value with better formats and more content interaction across media.”

Although iDeutsch knows the value of integration, the agency’s core competency is still interactive marketing. Working hand-in-hand with offline agency disciplines, iDeutsch specializes in website design, programming, and development; online media planning and buying; information architecture and user-interface research; technology, e-commerce initiatives, and banner creation.

A good example of the agency’s strategic media and creative thinking is the campaign recently created for telecommunications client Verizon. Kicking off at the end of May 2001, in support of the brand launch of Verizon SuperPages and SuperPages.com, iDeutsch created, in partnership with iWon, the Hello $ummer $weepstakes promotion. The promotion allowed iWon’s audience to use SuperPages.com for a chance to enter a sweepstakes, with a first prize of $10,000 in cash, and five second prizes of $1,000 each. Users could enter from iWon’s homepage, from multiple banners, or by linking from emails to enter the sweepstakes.

The promotion relied not on fancy rich media technology, but on a strong partnership with a single publisher and some very witty banner copy. Since everyone is motivated by something different, the banners asked, with your $10,000 winnings would you “clean bathrooms, watch reruns, or go on a safari?” Another execution asked for the user to choose between “11,347 feet of cubic ice or one family trip to Paris.”

“We had a fun idea and wanted a partner that could give us high volume at reasonable cost, and iWon was selected after a competitive RFP process,” said Rubin. “The idea was to structure a promotion in such a way as to drive traffic and searches on SuperPages.com, and ultimately, increase exposure for advertisers. By doing so, we were able to demo the functionality of the site. Most importantly, the promotion drove traffic and searches.” Over a five-week period, Verizon exceeded its traffic goals by nearly 300 percent.

“The success, to me, was not just click-through, but we were actually able to affect consumers’ search behavior on SuperPages,” said Rubin, “and that is a very hard thing for advertising to be asked to accomplish.”

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