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."

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."

A recent campaign for the U.S. Navy illustrates the successful use of the Fusion Process. The Navy drafted C-E for help in meeting its enlistment needs using all the weapons at its disposal, including advertising, direct marketing, interactive, database management, and call center and fulfillment services. Through the Fusion Process, they positioned the U.S. Navy as a life-transforming adventure that will accelerate young men and women to the highest level of lifelong career achievement.

The next step was to translate it into a campaign. To reach their audience, they used a very broad mix of highly targeted media including TV, radio, webcasts, magazines, direct mail, email blasts, direct response TV, infomercials, banner ads and interstitials, posters in the high schools, traditional brochures, and videos as fulfillment. But there was an additional hurdle. “Many young men and women were hesitant to visit a recruiter in person,” says Phipps. “Research found that young people were more inclined to visit and use the Web to learn about career opportunities with the Navy.” So since this was a very Web-savvy group, the centerpiece of the campaign was to direct the target to the redesigned website.

At the heart of the website is the Life Accelerator, a unique interactive and entertaining tool created by C-E Digital that demonstrates the hands-on experiences, high-tech training, and funding for college provided by the Navy that will catapult a young person’s interest into a successful career. “The Accelerator, which has become the most popular section on the site, allows visitors to see which Navy career is best suited to them,” says Phipps. “And the site’s webcasts allow Q&As with real Navy SEALs and pilots.” For this effort, the Web Marketing Association recognized as the “Best Government Website” and “Best Overall Website.” But more importantly for the Navy, this campaign and website have helped it meet its recruitment goals for 15 straight months, something that has not happened in more than a decade.

Campbell-Ewald is headquartered in Warren, Mich., and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, and Frankfurt, Germany. Other clients include such recent account wins as the U.S. Postal Service and National City Regional bank, and established brands such as Asiana Airlines, Borders, ConocoPhillips, Continental Airlines, Delta Faucets, Farmers Insurance Group, Lear Corporation, Pier 1 Imports, and Yellow Freight.

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