Procter & Gamble has tapped Northlich Stolley LaWarre's brand development group as its lead agency for corporate new ventures.
In turn, the Cincinnati agency, which has $100 million in billings, has christened the 10-year-old unit BrandStorm and named 21-year NSL veteran Bruce Mackey as its director.
The change was announced by NSL president Mark Serrianne, who last month took on the chief executive title and principal ownership of the agency.
P&G's move "was a recognition of our skills and a valued endorsement," Mackey said. As the unit's brand development work often does not involve the full-service advertising functions of NSL, restructuring the group as a separate outfit with its own identity within the agency should make it easier to explain its role to potential clients, Mackey said.
The 12-person BrandStorm group has handled brand development and testing of many new P&G products over the years--most recently, Febreze fabric freshener, feminine hygiene product Femstat and the Dryel home dry-cleaning product. Above-the-line responsibilities for Febreze, however, were given to Grey Advertising in New York while Leo Burnett in Chicago is handling Femstat and Dryel.
"That's fine with us," Mackey said of BrandStorm's upfront-only role with those brands. "We're happy to find the right way to bring a brand to life" and then send it to another agency, he said. "We're not here to undo [clients'] relationships with their other agencies."
The brands are not always surrendered to other agencies, however. After the group handled the development of StarKist's Seaside Gourmet frozen seafood line, a property of H.J. Heinz, NSL took over the test marketing of the brand's consumer advertising.
BrandStorm has also done--and is seeking to do more--repositioning work on existing products in the future, Mackey said.
Other BrandStorm clients currently include Brown-Forman and International Home Foods.