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Direct Needs Lead GN&P To Solomon

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When a client asked Gardner Nelson & Partners for direct-response ads in January, co-founder Steve Gardner began looking for an exec who was "bilingual" in direct and brand-building. He soon found one in an old colleague from Ammirati Puris Lintas: Robert Solomon.

The 53-year-old exec, who in the late 1990s was president of direct and interactive marketing at APL, began working on a consulting basis with GN&P shortly after taking Gardner's call. Recently, he joined full-time to work at newly launched direct unit Gardner Nelson Solomon.

As managing partner at the one-man operation, Solomon oversees a network of freelance art directors and copywriters that will handle direct work for the New York independent's clients; the unit also will pitch in on new business and chase accounts on its own, Gardner said.

"It's unusual to have somebody who is bilingual—able to converse and engage on brand-building initiatives and direct marketing," said Gardner, who worked with Solomon on Compaq at APL in the late 1990s.

Gardner called on Solomon when GN&P's biggest client, Bank One (with estimated billings of $95 million), needed direct work for subsidiary Life One. Solomon led a team that created two spots for Life One. He also pitched in during Cablevision's iO review, which the shop won in February.

"It all came together very nicely," said Solomon. "Most people will just hang out a shingle. We've already done some work."

Solomon, whose book The Art of Client Service debuted last year, left APL in 1999 to found Solomon Strategic, a direct-mail consulting practice in New York. In September 2002, he joined Rapp Collins as CEO of its New York office. He left Rapp in July.