Agency Profile: Campbell-Ewald

When you think of advertising agency Campbell-Ewald, two things quickly come to mind: Detroit and cars. An institution in the car capital of the world, Campbell-Ewald — part of the Interpublic Group of Companies — is one of the country’s largest ad agencies, with nearly $2 billion in billings. In fact, C-E's history with its client Chevrolet goes back practically to when the first Chevy rolled off the assembly line 80 years ago.

Today C-E is still heavily involved in the marketing of all things automotive with clients such as ACDelco, General Motors, GMAC, Michelin, OnStar, XM Satellite Radio, and, of course, Chevrolet. And it is that expertise that has given the veteran agency a running start in interactive marketing. "Detroit is the heart of practical technology," says Robert Mitchell II, executive vice president, account director at Campbell-Ewald. "There is more computer power in one automobile than in most PCs today. We have learned through our marketing partners the practical applications for using technology."

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Mitchell, a 25-year veteran at C-E and at one time media director of the Chevrolet business, now heads up Campbell-Ewald Digital, Publishing and Co-op Groups. It is these groups that offer extended marketing services not found at even some of the largest agencies. C-E Digital provides interactive communication strategy, technology, and execution to all of the agency's clients. C-E Publishing produces more than 30 consumer and B2B magazine and newsletter titles with circulation ranging from 2,000 to 5 million. Lastly, C-E Co-op handles the General Motors Dealer and Dealer Association programs as well as a dozen other major clients.

"The benefit of having these groups so closely integrated is we holistically see all our client's needs and opportunities," says Ann Phipps, executive vice president, creative director at Campbell-Ewald. "For example, since we are a multi-discipline group, when we go on a photo shoot for a client, we might not only take shots for a magazine ad, but also execute it for a Web page, a catalog, a brochure, or a CD-ROM. This is an extremely efficient approach. This cross-pollination of ideas can happen because our people are aligned philosophically and are physically in the same work area."

The three groups under Mitchell also work directly with the media department of C-E, which plans and buys both the traditional and the online media. Although C-E Digital doesn't directly plan and buy the online advertising, the department provides Internet strategy, Web development, relationship marketing, digital creative, CD and kiosk production, database integration, and content management. "We grow in our capabilities as our client needs grow," says Mitchell. "The advantage of having billion-dollar magnets [big-budget clients] is that every major tech vendor with new ideas seeks you out. This requires us to recognize great ideas and then translate them to viable marketing propositions."

Creating viable marketing propositions is key throughout C-E and is best illustrated in the "Campbell-Ewald Fusion Process," which attempts to demonstrate how the brand can enhance the quality of life of the target. The Fusion Process moves past the visible dimensions of attitudes and behavior found in traditional research and delves into hidden dimensions of emotions, feelings, relationships, and natural environment. The concept is to uncover a relevant differentiating benefit of a client's product and fuse it with a quality-of-life finding to create a marketing proposition. "This process makes us very proactive," says Phipps. "All groups are brought together to see where the brand is going and a creative brief is developed for each medium. This really benefits the Web, as it is not seen as a stand-alone medium, but part of the overall media mix."

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