High-Tech Goes for ‘High-Touch’

First Anniversary Sees TFA/Leo Burnett Strengthening Its Niche
DALLAS–TFA/Leo Burnett has quickly made its mark in the high- tech world of Austin, Texas. The agency, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, has catapulted half way up the ranks of the region’s top 50 shops, adding eight new clients and $50 million in billings.
The agency is led by Scott Murray, 29, formerly director of operations at tech specialist TFA Communications in Chicago. Leo Burnett purchased a major stake in the firm, which has offices in Boston and San Jose, Calif., in 1998.
At the time, Murray said TFA was a “small, aggressive shop–the only guy who could get in the way was you.”
Following Burnett’s purchase and the subsequent offer to lead the Austin office, Murray said he had the best of both worlds: “I got to be part of Leo Burnett and still build something from scratch.”
The Austin office had a single major client at the time, Motorola Digital DNA, an $8 billion business unit of Motorola. The client’s creative account was handled from the Chicago office.
Capitalizing on Motorola, Murray began to pursue other high-tech accounts in the area. “The reason I like going after technology companies is because they’re planning to change the way things are done, and I see that more in Austin than anywhere else in the country,” Murray said. “It’s not a cavalier attitude; it’s just they believe things can be done.”
New accounts drawn to TFA/Leo Burnett in Austin have included PSW Technologies, KnowledgeNet, Sprint, Pervasive and SiteStuff.com.
John DeWitt, manager of market communications at Sprint Enterprise Network Services, the telco’s IT solutions division in Houston, said he selected TFA to handle the company’s first national campaign based on its “high-touch” approach as well as the common denominator of originating as smaller, technical firms acquired by larger entities.
The Leo Burnett banner has certainly helped to build the agency locally.
“We’re a new shop in town, but for a lot of companies we have the brand expertise and stewardship of Leo Burnett, which is extremely well known,” Murray said.
The Austin agency has grown from one to 31 employees within one year. In January, TFA recruited freelancer Mike Coffin, previously with GSD&M, The Richards Group and Leo Burnett, to lead its creative department.