Saatchi Vet Co-founds Youth Marketing Firm

LOS ANGELES Mark Bilfield, former business development director at Saatchi & Saatchi, has teamed with two marketing executives to form youth marketing firm Zim [Squared].

The company, which will target the K-12 and college audiences, is comprised of Bilfield; equity partner Jeremy Weiner, who previously founded Cover-It, a company that offered products like book covers and bookmarks, as well as market research and sampling; and David Sica, formerly vice president of operations for Primedia’s in-school marketing division. Zim [Squared] will also use some 500 individuals who will act as street teams and gather classroom information.

Bilfield and Weiner are based in Beverly Hills, Calif. Sica is based in Boston.

The company will offer consulting services to agencies and clients, such as evaluating current programs and identifying areas for enhancement, and will also design and implement programs. Those could include developing book covers bearing ads, bookmarks, and orientation and graduation kits, said Bilfield. The firm will not develop traditional advertising. “We will not compete with ad agencies at all,” said Bilfield. “We can be behind the scenes, as an extension of their team.”

The company’s name arose after the shop went into schools to conduct research with kids. “They liked the letter ‘Z,’ said Bilfield. The second two letters of the name grew out of the words “instant messaging,” which is popular with kids, he said, adding, “and squared is exponentially better.”

The company is pursuing opportunities with Fortune 500 firms and is also in talks with agencies in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, Bilfield said.

Bilfield, who was first introduced to Weiner through a family friend four years ago, said he believes the company is well-positioned due to his experience with big brands, Weiner’s knowledge of the youth market and Sica’s relationship with vendors.

Bilfield left Saatchi in Torrance, Calif., in October. He joined the shop in 1997 as director of integrated marketing, working on the $400 million Toyota account. Prior to that, he was senior partner and group account director on Nissan at TBWA\Chiat\Day, where he spent 11 years.