Carat Attracts Some Key People: Clients
In terms of Rent-A-Center, a spokesman for the Plano, Tx-based chain cited Carat's research and analytics process as the primary reasons for the Aegis Group shop winning the business. David Verklin, CEO of Carat Americas, pointed to three reasons for its latest wins.
"We're a company--we're only six years old--that's always focused on new techniques, new technologies, and new ways of approaching the business," he said. "From the first, we've been very research-oriented, and we're happy to be thought of as a research company that buys media--and not the other way around. Because of our connection with our sister companies, such as Synovate, our marketing research and analytics company, we have an additional edge in terms of planning. And naturally, that appeals to clients."
An example of Carat's sharp focus on research is shown in its decision last month to buy a company called iProspect, which specializes in search engine optimization. With the recent merger of Carat Interactive and Carat Direct, the company is trying to bring more "digital-centric" resources to bear on its direct marketing abilities, Verklin added.
Verklin also mentioned Carat's independence from a creative shop as another strength.
"Because we don't do offline creative, we can remain truly media neutral," he said. "Most Carat media plans tend to have less television in them compared to our competitors. Clients right now are concerned about the efficacy of TV, and they want a broader media mix that fits their needs."
It's those attributes that Verklin said allow Carat to carry on in the face of personnel losses that would otherwise be seen as devastating to a company's identity. Over the past three months, Carat has seen the departure of four senior executives from the fold.
Catherine Warburton-Scott resigned in February as senior vice president-associate director for national broadcast to join Interpublic Group's Universal-McCann in a top media-buying role. Her departure followed shortly after the resignation of Charlie Rutman as president to take a post at Havas' MPG as CEO. And before that, research chief Joanne Burke, who cited personal reasons for leaving, and Doug Flynn, who resigned as CEO of parent Aegis Group in February after having served in that post since 1999.
"We're a pretty big place and we've been able to create something that's bigger than any one individual," Verklin said. "We have lost great people--Catherine, Charlie, and Joanne--but we've done a good job of building a farm system. While it's frustrating in a way, I'm also proud that our employees are a target for other companies who want that Carat magic. Conversely, I'm also amazed at the quality of the people who want to come here from other agencies. And we're about to hire some great people very shortly."