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CREATIVE SPOTLIGHT: THE MARKETING ARM BIG IDEAS

By Jun 01, 2010

Winning nine Promo Pro Awards in one year takes a lot of creative chutzpah. That’s what The Marketing Arm did last year, earning it the No. 1 spot on Promo’s list of the top-10 agencies that received the most wins and finalists placements in both the 2009 Pro Awards and the 2010 Interactive Marketing Awards. The agency also ranked No. 13 on the Promo 100, with 2009 U.S. net revenue of $102.1 million.

Campaigns the agency was honored for include “Doritos Crash the Super Bowl,” “AT&T Team USA Soundtrack,” “State Farm Call Your Shot” and “GameStop Guitar Hero.”

So how’d they do it? For one thing, it’s about having a unique structure that opens the doors to creative thinking from employees across the company.

“We’ve worked really long and hard to create an open and collaborative environment where everyone is able to participate,” says Chris Smith, chief strategy officer for The Marketing Arm. “We tap everyone, so we may get up to 40 ideas outside of the 14 people working on the assignment. That allows us to deliver the ideas that are recognized with awards like yours.”

The agency is also expert in four “emotional platforms”: sports, cause, multicultural and entertainment.

“Those are the four pillars of our business,” says Nowell Upham, senior vice president of promotion marketing. “Our best ideas come from some sort of emotional grounding. It’s where we’re able to find consumer affinity and transfer it to the brand. We try to ground our ideas in an insight, in a human truth. It’s a bit of art and science.”

The agency, a part of the Omnicom Group, also has a senior group of people located in the Dallas headquarters who act as a creative sounding board for employees from any of the other offices.

“Anybody can get access to the same talent pool regardless of where they work geographically or which account or type of business they work in,” Upham says. “We have a senior and well-seasoned talent pool that is available on a S.W.A.T. basis to anybody in the agency, and those people act as the hub of the wheel.”

As an indicator that the agency’s clients appreciate its work, 65% of its business comes from existing clients. But the pressure to generate the next big idea has never been greater.

“The pressure grows every year,” says Ben Day, group vice president of creative. “The further along you get with the client, the more they expect from you.”

And that includes results.

“We make sure that we see where every dollar goes and that it’s as efficient as possible,” says Trina Roffino, group vice president, account service.

TOP CREATIVE

These 9 promotional agencies are ranked for attaining the most finalists and wins for best creative work presented at Promo’s 2009 Pro Awards and its 2010 Interactive Marketing Awards.

And the list is …

  1. THE MARKETING ARM
  2. MOMENTUM WORLDWIDE
  3. GRAND CENTRAL MARKETING
  4. (TIE) JWT-TEAM DETROIT
  5. CAMPFIRE, PHD…AND COMPANY, IGNITION, DEEP FOCUS, BEHAVIOR, CORNERSTONE, OMA, SPACEDOG, GRAND CENTRAL MARKETING
  6. (TIE) CIVIC ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
  7. THE MARKETING STORE
  8. JACK MORTON WORLDWIDE
  9. ARC WORLDWIDE

METHODOLOGY: Each win was awarded one point and each finalist one point.