Exclusive: Steve Greenberger’s Marketing Remedy for an Economic Plague

By Matt Van Hoven 

SR Greenberger is a day-old shop that’s still in the design phase. And although the agency was born yesterday, it has a few client meetings in the works, a striking idea, and three decades of marketing knowledge behind it. Not only its founder, president and only employee planning to change how we understand consumers, but he is doing it at one of the (arguably) worst times in the industry’s history.

You might not know Steve Greenberger. He’s a 30-year veteran of the civil war between marketers and advertisers, which has been capitulated through the decades, most recently by social media and Google.

Marketing products through media is Greenberger’s game. But he believes there’s a smarter way to break through to consumers than the standards employed today &#151 and since he began as a “guru” for Bob Coen (at McCann). Stepping back and looking at market research, he says, is the way he plans to run his new business. Strategy, planning and maybe some buying are in the works. But research is the fundamental difference.


More after the jump.

When his former employes, SLG Incorporated (an ad shop with clients including Just For Men, EAS, Vagisil and others) decided to close shop, he decided to strike out on his own. If you’ve read Mark Cuban’s blog lately, you’ll remember his noting the difficulties of starting a business in this country given the local, state and federal taxes associated with such a small business, all by one’s lonesome.

And alone Greenberger sits, working out exactly how he’s going to make his big research idea a reality. His plan is to refocus media strategy by testing the creative work, rather than just the media. He also wants to do it for less. Word on how that’s going to happen, he says, might be available as early as next week. That’s no small order.

“But nobody’s figured it out yet,” says Greenberger. “I’ve been telling them for years and no one listened.”

You might be saying, “yeah, we’ve heard this routine before.” There’s no talk of social media, Google’s planning and keyword products and all the trendy new gadgets available to today’s drivers-of-consumption.

But with the tenets of marketing strategy firmly implanted in media testing (rather than creative, Greenberger says), and unknown social media returns (more here, it can’t hurt for him to try something different.

Take Campbell-Ewald’s recent slate of client losses as a reason why Greenberger could be on to something. We reported yesterday about alleged billing increases in the area of $150 million on the Farmers Insurance account.

It’s a safe bet that a lot of cash went to strategy &#151 which in the end was never used. We hear the same is happening with the already-up-for-review Navy account. Could that be because of over-emphasis on media and not the creative itself? In part, we surmise yes.

We’re not saying Greenberger has it figured out. After all, he’s just one guy in an office somewhere. But he’s got the right idea &#151 to tweak a model that feels more like a pyramid scheme than an industry standard, and take it down a higher path. Greenberger’s three decades of experience at shops like McCann, IMS, Campbell Methune (Esty) and Grey count for one thing, as far as we’re concerned; a little attention, just in case he has figured it out.