Conn. Shop's New Planning Director Helps Earn Software Account
BOSTON--Already gaining a reputation for its creative product, The Hughes Agency has broadened its service offerings by hiring Grant Castle as its first director of strategic planning.
Castle initially contacted president Paul Hughes after reading about the Norwalk, Conn., agency in the trade press. Castle, who consulted to the 10-person shop for the past several months, officially came aboard last week.
Castle's arrival signals the agency's willingness to shed its boutique image and enter the realm of strategically driven shops, Hughes said.
"I like being known as a creative boutique, but I don't like being known as a shop that's not strategic," Hughes said. "[Castle] has fit in here very well. I don't think this is going to be a one-year run for him."
"The atmosphere of this agency is very welcoming," Castle said. "The quality of the work was just astounding to me. I decided to join as a consultant and see if my initial impression held, and it did."
Jeff Vogt, president of Vogt/Wein in Westport, Conn., where Castle worked for 14 months as an account executive until leaving last spring, called Castle "a great account guy, but we were really just a creative resource place. He was kind of a luxury for us and wanted a bigger role."
At Vogt/Wein, Castle worked on accounts such as Samsung Electronics, ESPN, Oxford Health Plans and Loctite Corp. Prior to that, he served a year as executive vice president and managing partner at North Castle Partners in Stamford, Conn.
Castle spent the past two months consulting for both Vogt/Wein and The Hughes Agency, helping the latter win its latest client, VSI Communications Group, also in Norwalk.
Recently purchased by Metamor, a provider of online learning and support products in Houston, VSI develops business software, including its flagship Mentor brand for Lotus Notes.
The Hughes Agency is VSI's first agency of record. The shop was selected after an informal review of undisclosed contenders and will create print ads and direct mail pieces targeting information technology professionals, said VSI president Dan Gallo. Ads will break in March, he said. The budget has yet to be determined.
"Creative was important, but [The Hughes Agency] had some value-added ideas from the strategic consulting side," Gallo said. "Culturally, it was important they fit in with us, too."
Claiming about $15 million in overall billings, the agency handles clients such as Beepwear Paging Products and Mystic Coast & Country. Its print campaigns for Beepwear have garnered numerous creative awards.