The no-nonsense tack and measurable results of direct response have made it one of the fastest-growing areas in marketing. In response, media shops have been busy becoming "customer relations managers."
The latest move belongs to Interpublic Group's Universal McCann, which last week launched a partnership with McCann-Erickson WorldGroup sister MRM Partners.
Dubbed the Knowledge Council, the 7-person division combines direct response with other disciplines.
UM chief strategy officer Mark Stewart will chair the council with Patricia Berns, chief marketing officer of MRM. At least initially, the unit will merge the siblings' consumer insights, other research findings and staff across multiple media to deliver interactive content to customers, beginning with shared clients such as Marriott hotels, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and Nestlé.
Other media shops have taken similar initiatives or added resources to provide relationship-marketing punch, such as Starcom MediaVest Group's Halogen Response Media subsidiary. One executive noted that integrating disciplines such as direct response into media is now de rigueur for every plan.
"UM sees itself as being in the business of driving action through media, and what's clearly evident is not that we have to drive action one time, but to create greater depth in the relationship between the client and its customers," said Stewart.
Added Halogen CEO John McNamara: "We started Halogen two years ago and have been working to integrate the disciplines of DR ever since. Clients seek cost-effective marketing solutions with proven, measurable results. Direct response helps answer that call."