Bernstein-Rein Consolidates Below-the-Line Work

Bernstein-Rein has combined its below-the-line operations into a new stand-alone unit, the Brand Relationship Group.

Rich Gabe, who joined the agency about a year ago as a senior vice president, will run the division as executive director. Gabe worked for BR in the early 1990s as general man ager of its now-shuttered Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office.

Though the Kansas City, Mo., shop has long offered below-the-line marketing options such as direct, database and retail consulting, combining them into an independent entity is meant to create opportunities with clients that may not need the agency’s advertising services, Gabe said.

Shop president “Bob [Bernstein] understands that a large part of the future of marketing will not be driven by advertising,” Gabe said.

The unit will target “non-media-driven” clients that might have smaller marketing budgets than those traditionally targeted by the $400 million agency, Gabe said. BRG will also take a “discipline-neutral approach,” he said.

Gabe, who has held marketing posts with Bernstein-Rein clients Blockbuster Video and NationsRent, maintained that BRG will offer a more inte grated approach than the packages offered by multinational holding companies because it will operate as a single com pany. “We’re all here,” he said. “It’s not a buzzword. We’re on the floor.”

The unit will be wholly independent, drawing on its own creatives, planners and account managers, Gabe said.

“From a strategic point of view, we will approach [client business] from scratch,” he said. “If we need advice from some one at Bernstein-Rein, we’ll pull it.”

The unit, to comprise about 40 people, will initially share several clients with the main agency, including Bayer Animal Health, Russell Stover Candies, Thrifty Car Rental and Wal-Mart.