In the mid-1960s, Carroll Shelby set the racing world on its ear when he dropped a monster Ford V-8 engine into a sedate English sports car and renamed it the Cobra.

So when Atlanta direct marketer Grizzard Communications wanted to supercharge its client base (mostly mild-mannered nonprofits such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army), what better symbol than the Cobra?

Kevin Phillips, director of the shop’s newly created Performance Group, mailed scale models of a fire-engine red Cobra and a pitch letter touting Grizzard’s capabilities (“Pop the clutch … Kick the tires”) to marketing executives at 500 prospective client companies.

The result: Grizzard is in “serious discussions” with 10 companies whose executives were influenced by the promotion. That is sure to please the agency’s new Omnicom bosses.