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Cone Seeks Diversity

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Unveils Identity Update as Cause Efforts Rise
BOSTON-Seeking to position itself as a brand consultancy, public relations shop Cone has dropped "Communications" from its name.
Executives at the Boston-based agency said the previous moniker was too limiting and did not reflect its growing capabilities in cause-related marketing, interactive, media relations and strategic consulting.
Despite efforts to better diversify itself, however, clients appear drawn to Cone for its ability to link companies with causes. The agency this month will unveil a major initiative from The Gillette Co. focusing on women's health. In addition, Cone is currently developing cause-related programs for Betty Crocker, Johnson & Johnson, ConAgra and Nordica.
"We are not dropping our other practices to focus on cause branding but that category is so in vogue that clients are coming to us for that. Our other marketing practices are still critically important," said Jens Bang, who is beginning his second year as president of the agency.
Like its advertising counterparts, Cone is trying to fight the encroachment of management consultants onto its turf while portraying itself as a more diversified communications company. As such, it has embarked on an aggressive campaign to change the way it markets itself to potential clients and employees, including a new corporate identity created by Boston-based Tomlinson Design.
Cone also trademarked the term "cause branding," which coincided with the release of a survey-its third in five years in conjunction with Roper-Starch Worldwide-that shows a growing acceptance of cause programs as a business practice.
Cone is seeking to better balance its heritage in cause-related marketing programs with more traditional public relations tactics such as publicity and media training for clients such as Dunkin' Donuts.
Its New York office, opened two years ago, has developed a specialty promoting interactive businesses. Two of its clients in Silicon Alley, iVillage and MiningCo.com, last month went public within days of each other, their market valuations based largely on image and brand awareness.
Cone's cause marketing work is also drawing new employees. Two recruits in particular-Mark Feldman, senior vice president of cause-related marketing, and Gina Ashe, vice president of strategic philanthropy-were both drawn to the agency because of its "do good" work, they said.
The shop now employs 65 people in Boston and New York, up from just 35 two years ago. ƒ