Emergence Brand Labs Opens

O’Keefe Returns to Marketing Wars to Shape Web-Only Ventures
ATLANTA–Internet marketing pioneer Kelly O’Keefe has opened a new company called Emergence Brand Laboratories, dedicated solely to Web-based clients.
Calling most dot.com advertising “a relentless and nauseating sea of ineffectiveness,” O’Keefe said Emergence is designed “to help build Web-based companies into brand leaders on the Internet . . . We are exclusively a branding company. We will be focused entirely on Internet ventures. This is not an agency, it’s not a marketing firm, it’s not a dot.com.”
Located in Richmond, Va., Emergence will specialize in method theory and the application of branding both startup and well-established e-companies. O’Keefe expects to be extremely busy.
“There is a huge need,” said O’Keefe, chairman and chief executive officer of Emergence. “Even though there are a huge number of companies banking dollars on this, there aren’t a huge number getting it right. There’s a lot of crap out there. Agencies are doing what they’ve always done: ‘Let’s buy big media and hope that it works. Worry about the message later.’ Jumping into the Super Bowl . . . Out of the $4 billion that’s been spent, I bet $3.8 billion of it has been wasted.”
Saying Emergence would preach “behavior and message [to] build the magnetic brand,” O’Keefe called creating brand loyalty among Web users “a mix of art and science” that hinges upon a combination of Web site architecture, organizational development, product integrity, customer service, packaging and other facets.
O’Keefe, 39, founded O’Keefe Marketing in 1990. It was named Adweek’s Southeast Agency of the Year in 1996. In 1997, he sold the shop to Richmond’s Cadmus Communications, where his informal style clashed with the button-downed parent’s culture. The Richmond unit, CadmusCom, was closed last July and O’Keefe was let go.
His new team includes president Claiborne Mason, former senior vice president of The Martin Agency’s interactive unit. Senior vice president Catherine Bendall was head researcher at CadmusCom. Senior vice president of public relations Tracy Tierney left Arnold Communications in Richmond to rejoin O’Keefe.
O’Keefe said a client list would be released soon and an Atlanta division will open before year’s end. K

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