A Shop Is Born

Mark Bezos remembers when he and David Nathanson were pulling all-nighters at the
former DDB Needham back in 1996, trying to make the Digital Equipment Corp. brand relevant in the personal-computer category.
“It was like the scene from Pulp Fiction,” Bezos recalled. “An adrenaline shot to the heart was needed for Digital.”
Bezos said Nathanson’s “anthemic presentation” before Digital engineers so impressed him that he thought if he ever started his own agency, he’d want Nathanson as his partner.
This week, Bezos/Nathanson Marketing Group begins operations and will handle advertising for each new Internet startup funded by Quantum Leap, a Jersey City, N.J.-based venture-capital firm, whose latest project is B/N’s first client, Bighourglass.com.
Nathanson left DDB Worldwide last week after a six-year run as co-executive creative director in New York and worldwide creative director on Compaq.
Bezos, whose brother is Amazon.com co-founder Jeff Bezos, was most recently a partner and director of integration at Renegade Marketing Group, a New York division of Dentsu.
The idea of forming an agency was “not born out of any one moment,” Nathanson noted. “Each time we crossed paths [over the years], we talked about it.”
The shop will operate out of Quantum Leap’s offices while Bezos and Nathanson hire staffers and look for space in Man-hattan, Bezos said.
Craig Coletta, CEO of Quantum Leap, said he was impressed with the creative work Nathanson had done for Planetfeedback and iVillage and with Bezos’ guerrilla-marketing ex-perience from Renegade. “From the beginning, marketing plays a role in establishing a company,” Coletta said.
A campaign for Bighourglass.com is expected in the fall, with estimated spending at $5-7 million. The site activates an online-sweepstakes bar code at the bottom of each screen, tracking surfers’ movements and awarding prizes each hour. The longer someone is online accompanied by the bar code, the better his or her chance is of winning.