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GSD&M on the Sidelines As Kinko's Alters Strategy

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GSD&M has seen its role on Kinko's change drastically in the two years since it won the account, as the client has cut spending and shifted its focus from mass marketing to a more targeted approach.

The Dallas company, which for years positioned itself as a place for individuals and small businesses to do copying and printing jobs, is now emphasising contract document services to the commercial market. "It was really a natural evolution. ... We're still focused on the local market and consumer, but our biggest growth engine is the business outsourcing market," said client rep Maggie Thill.

In fact, Kinko's has largely shifted away from consumer advertising. As recently as 1996, the company ran a spot on the Super Bowl—an effort from Hal Riney & Partners, Chicago, tagged, "The new way to office." But Kinko's aired TV work just once this year—during the PGA Tour's Kinko's Classic of Austin in May.

Ad spending has plummeted. The account was worth $25 million when Omnicom Group's GSD&M in Austin, Texas, won it in December 2001. The 1,200-unit chain spent just $2 million through September of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

GSD&M's most recent TV image work for Kinko's broke in March 2002. It positioned the company as a place where businesses of any size can find a "network" of human and technological resources. The tagline was, "Tap into the network."

GSD&M remains on board as a "strategic communications provider," Thill said. GSD&M representative Eric Webber said, "Kinko's is still a valued client, and we will continue to provide communications strategies." He declined further comment.

Thill declined to discuss plans for 2004. The client is seeking a replacement for vp of marketing Chris Gibson, who retired in October, Thill said.

Kinko's is now marketing itself mainly through e-mail, direct mail, public relations and ads in vertical trade publications. The company awarded PR duties to Interpublic Group's Weber Shandwick last summer; it does most other work in-house.

"What we found is that tightly defined business outsourcing is most effectively communicated in a targeted way," Thill said.

Sales of the privately held company are undisclosed, but the rise of personal computing has forced the change of business models, according to an industry expert. "If your storefront business is dwindling because there are more home-office [technologies], the only way to go is high volume," said Ron Gilboa, director of on-demand printing and publishing consulting service at Cap Ventures in Norwell, Mass. "The contract printing market is definitely an area where a lot of those companies are aiming."

A number of companies, including Xerox and IBM, also offer document-outsourcing services. CAP Ventures predicts the market will grow from revenue of $29 billion in 2001 to approximately $35 billion in 2006—an annual rate of 4 percent.

Kinko's is "definitely trying to move upstream from small to mid-corporate market and wants to have a stream where they'll do most of your printing," said Holly Muscolino, director of the production workflow solutions group at Cap Ventures.