For midsize agencies, orphan brands are perfect fixer-uppers

If advertising is all about vision, then maybe midsize agencies have the greatest acuity of all, because revitalizing an orphan brand [Regional News, April 26] is like recovering the grand Victorian home hidden beneath the broken shutters and weathered shingles of a neglected fixer-upper.

As a midsize agency that has built a growing business by revitalizing or extending brands such as Centrum, Cutex, Spic and Span, Compound W, Denorex and others, we know for a fact that just because a $30 million brand used to be a $50 million brand doesn’t mean a client can’t still make money on it. Midsize agencies can make that happen, because we can afford to staff the business with experienced pros who understand how to get at the brand’s relevant meaning and inherent value, how to deal with structural and cosmetic challenges, and how to bring back the essence and luster of the brand on a comparatively modest budget.

While the large, multinational agencies are busy chasing the next bazillion-dollar global account, we are more than happy to keep our noses to the grindstone and deliver increased sales for these “forgotten” brands and greater value to our clients.

Gerald Carrafiello
Carrafiello Diehl & Associates
Irvington, N.Y.

Search-advertising expertise isn’t an option, it’s a must

One need look no further than Google’s upcoming IPO to understand the overwhelming success that search advertising has experienced. Its importance in the digital-marketing mix has been a mainstay basically since the beginning.

What is surprising is that big, traditional advertisers “won’t find many traditional agencies” in the search mix, as Catharine P. Taylor writes in a feature story (“Engine of Change,” March 15). Many traditional firms, she writes, are “trying to determine whether they should outsource [search] or tackle it by gaining the expertise.”

Why is this even a question? Understanding and providing expertise in search is a must for today’s agencies.

Yes, search is complex. However, it is our job as agencies in the interactive space not only to understand those complexities but to be experts in them. An agency can’t just create ads and buy media—there are too many opportunities in the interactive medium for us to just deliver the status quo. It is our responsibility to understand each available interactive vehicle and be creative in establishing new ones. Avenue A has provided search expertise since the late ’90s, and today the practice makes up an estimated 25 percent of our annual billings.

As significant an investment as search is for most interactive marketers, the benefits of a consolidated effort far outweigh the risks associated with separate initiatives. This begins with an interactive-agency team that understands search and knows how it fits into the entire digital-marketing mix.

Second, an all-encompassing digital-marketing effort, including search, benefits greatly from technology and analytics. Technology and sophisticated data analytics are the cornerstone of our medium. Our ability to measure campaign effectiveness is unparalleled. Sophisticated online marketers should expect their interactive agency to use one platform for analyzing the effectiveness of all their online media efforts—Web media, search, e-mail, etc. The ability to understand how search complements other online marketing efforts and vice versa is paramount to digital marketing’s success.

James A. Warner
Avenue A
New York

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