Dickinson Adds Creative Director, SunTrust

Business Gains Point the Way as Direct Shop Strives to Diversify
BOSTON–No longer content with being known as a direct mail fulfillment house, Dickinson Direct has diversified its service offerings and added assignments from several clients, most notably SunTrust Banks in Atlanta.
The Braintree, Mass., agency hired Kathleen Aston as creative director. She is charged with overseeing a staff of about 15 while improving the overall creative product.
Aston succeeds Randy Burge, who handed over the Dickinson’s creative reins after a dozen years and has left the marketplace.
Aston spent nearly seven years at Ziff-Davis’ ZD Events unit in Needham, Mass., where she served as a marketing specialist.
At Dickinson, Aston is shepherding assignments for several new clients, including SunTrust, Pitney Bowes, Unum Insurance and Ames Department Stores, all of which tapped the agency since the year began.
Combined billings of the new assignments are more than $5 million, said agency president Reed Dickinson. SunTrust is the largest of the lot, he said.
SunTrust hired Dickinson after a review of undisclosed contenders, Aston said. The agency is developing an integrated program for the client, including direct, collateral, on-site and event marketing executions. SunTrust officials did not return calls.
One of the 10 largest banking organizations in the country, SunTrust has $93 billion in overall assets and operates 1,200 branches throughout the southeastern U.S.
Separately, Dickinson is in a creative shootout for Boston power provider Eastern Utilities, which is seeking concepts for an upcoming TV campaign to be created in tandem with Boston Productions, Aston said.
The surge of account activity and a commitment to diversifying services–such as a newly launched database marketing unit called Data Response Group–should help Dickinson redefine itself as an agency capable of providing “direct response through any medium,” Aston said.
The shop claimed 1998 revenues of $32 million. Just 20 percent of that was from creative services, the rest coming from fulfillment and related mailing services.