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New Business: Credentials, Please

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There's something for everyone in this month's batch of agency credentials kits. James Bond fans will enjoy Team One's package: a wooden briefcase that contains a mini cassette player with a recorded message from an agency executive. (Let the conspiracy theories begin.) Music-store discount-rack rummagers might one day stumble upon The Very Best of WestWayne—but they'll be disappointed to find that it does not actually feature duets from Ben West and Jeff Johnson. Instead, the double CD contains commercials and a home movie about the Atlanta agency. Meanwhile, Element 79 Partners and Grey focus on color. In Element 79's case, it's gold (naturally). In the case of Grey, it's, well, anything but gray. Zipatoni rounds out the group by wrapping its Gen Y message in big, clear plastic containers.

Element 79 Partners

With a name like Element 79 Partners, you have to be flashy. Or maybe you don't.

The Chicago agency takes its name from the entry for gold—No. 79—on the Periodic Table of the Elements, but it isn't precious when it comes to its credentials kit. Sure, the gold envelope figures to draw some attention. And the little gold pouch with chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil is a nice touch. But the rest of the package is about as snazzy as a B-student's term paper.

"We want to get right down to business," says Connie Nelson, svp and business development director for the Omnicom Group shop. "Agencies that are still putting hundreds of dollars into credentials kids, with big metal boxes and flashy videos, we think aren't up with the times. We believe clients don't care as much about us as what we can do for them."

Thus, the kit's main piece is a thin, black, spiral-bound booklet laid out entirely in black, white and gold that offers only minimal copy about working methods, case studies, agency executives and clients. A second booklet features print ads. A reel and a CD-ROM present other work, including the high-profile, special-effects-laden ads for Gatorade. The idea is to present Element 79 as an agency that believes in simplicity and efficiency. Clients need things "simpler, faster, easier," says CEO Brian Williams.

The agency, set up by Omnicom two years ago to handle PepsiCo business formerly at Foote Cone & Belding, has had a good track record of getting into pitches, moving past the RFP stage in several high-profile reviews, including Capital One and Jim Beam. But it has had a hard time converting, winning only the $10 million Supercuts account in December 2002. - TREVOR JENSEN

Grey

Grey is known as a straightforward packaged-goods shop with strong account management and unexciting creative that moves product. So what's up with this colorful, dynamic credentials kit?

"Anything that's unexpected from us is great," says Michele Hush, vp and director of new-business communications for Grey in New York.

The centerpiece is an oversized book that features playful art direction and layout. The book was produced at the end of 2002 to introduce the "village" system established the year before by Steve Blamer, now North America CEO. Blamer appears on the first page, tossing a ball in the air. The various village leaders are shown throughout the book in photos that suggest a fun, lighthearted attitude; accompanying them are brief descriptions of each village's specialty.

Along with the book is a CD-ROM that features work for Frontier Airlines, "which got the most amazing buzz," Hush says. The campaign, tagged "A whole different animal," shows the animated creatures from the tails of Frontier's planes coming to life. Also included is a reel with what the agency considers some of its best current spots: Dairy Queen, Starburst and the American Plastics Council.

Some prospects also receive a blue booklet titled, "Announcing the Death of Strictly Left-Brain Brand Management," which describes a proprietary research model called Emotional Triggers.

The shop used to send out a reel and its annual report, which featured a dry overview of the various operating companies. The new kit is a reflection of the personality of Grey Worldwide, the main agency, which in turn reflects Blamer's personality. "He's very bright, alive, detail oriented and dynamic," Hush says. "The last thing anyone thought would be that Grey has a sense of humor."

Grey competed in four pitches in 2003, winning Kmart and BMW dealers but coming up short with Cap Gemini and Toyota dealers. - KATHLEEN SAMPEY

Team One Advertising

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to hire Team One.

The creators of the El Segundo, Calif., shop's new credentials kit have watched their share of spy-movie marathons on cable. Inside a wooden briefcase is a CD-ROM and a mini cassette recorder. Play the tape, and you hear: "Hi, I'm John Maxham, creative director of new business at Team One. I'm sure you're in the middle of reviewing a lot of flashy materials, probably hearing a lot of inspirational rallying cries. But in the end, I think you'll notice there's one constant. It's all about them. And we'd much rather talk about you and your needs than give you a slick rendition of what we think. ... So take this as an invitation to a deeper discussion."

The voice may also be that of chairman and CEO Brian Sheehan or a creative or planning executive, and the words may be slightly different, depending on the prospect. But the message is clear. "Everything these people are seeing has to do with self-promoting," says ecd Chris Graves. This kit, he says, is about offering to have a more in-depth conversation.

The CD-ROM contains agency work. On the dust jacket are brief case studies for Lexus and former client Boost Mobile, as well as the shop's client roster (written like song titles), address, year founded and number of employees.

The new materials are part of a general agency rebranding, including a new logo. The previous kit positioned Team One as "an ideas company." "We are still an ideas company," Sheehan says, "but we have to give them a proposition that goes beyond being an ideas company, because a lot of agencies have good ideas."

The kit rolled out just before the holidays. So far, there have been no takers. - REBECCA FLASS

Zipatoni

Make it big, bold and fun. That was the idea when executives at Zipatoni sat down to develop the promotional agency's Gen Y new-business kit. The message is, "If we can get you to pay attention to this, we can [also] make your consumers pay attention," says Jim Holbrook, president of the St. Louis-based Interpublic Group company.

The youth-focused package can be sent out to a wide range of prospects, from automakers to household-products companies to financial institutions, says Holbrook. The heavy package consists of three clear plastic containers. The first, labeled "Gen Insights," contains facts and research about Gen Y, the generation of people born roughly between 1980 and 1995. The second container, "Gen Ideas," is nearly empty, save for Holbrook's contact information and a message that reads: "Zipatoni wants to fill this box with freshly picked marketing that reaches your Gen Y target." The final box, labeled "Gen Intuition," contains a colorful book that is full of Zipatoni's Gen Y-relevant case studies, such as a Motorola/Voicestream promotion with Austin Powers: Goldmember, as well as work for Yoo-Hoo, the Aggressive Skaters Association and Dr Pepper.

"It shows the level of work and energy we have," says Holbrook. "It is meant to be an example of how we work. It's not meant to be the Trojan Horse or the bait, but it's meant to set us apart. ... Most promotional agencies are like fast food and don't go so in-depth with the audience category issues."

Zipatoni is currently working on a new brand identity, including a logo and tagline. - LISA VAN DER POOL

WestWayne

Freedom Rock, it's not. But The Very Best of WestWayne sounds like just the thing to be hawked via late-night infomercials.

The cover of the double CD-ROM—part of the Atlanta shop's credentials packet—shows chairman Ben West in the passenger seat of a Toyota MR2 Spyder convertible, holding an acoustic guitar. Behind the wheel, clutching an electric guitar, is president and CEO Jeff Johnson. On the first CD is a home-movie-style faux documentary titled "The Story of WestWayne." Penned by ecd Steve Baer, it shows the shop's employees working at clients' places of business. For example, account director Scott Stuart and brand planner Rob Iles recite Publix's history as they scan and bag groceries at a checkout counter. At the bottom of the screen is the occasional self-deprecating caption (one beneath Iles reads, "Can bag twelve bags per minute. When not talking"). Other staffers are seen as dealers on Toyota car lots, and so on. In between scenes, Johnson is seen talking about the agency's philosophy. The second CD features 11 TV spots for various clients.

The kit, revamped recently by design director Jennifer Carreno and acd John Stapleton, also includes a binder with various case studies, statistics, client factoids and more. The sections are divided by bookmarks for easier reading. "We can't assume someone's going to sit down with a glass of cognac and read from page one," says Johnson.

But the real flavor is in the movie. "We wanted it to capture everyone's personality. Getting them on camera really helps," says chief creative officer Scott Sheinberg. After a pause, he adds, "Some of them."

WestWayne went 6-for-10 in pitches in 2003.

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Adweek is accepting credentials kits for inclusion in future installments of this feature. To be considered, send all elements of the kit to: Deanna Zammit, 770 Broadway, 7th floor, New York, NY 10003.