HMS Retools With “Brand DNA’

Consultancy Highlights a New Direction for Columbus Agency
CHICAGO-HMS Partners has set up a separate brand consultancy and beefed up its technology and direct marketing sectors in order to broaden its thinking, scope of services and ability to compete in a rapidly changing marketplace.
The new brand consultancy is called Brand DNA, which was already the name of the agency’s proprietary branding model. The unit will be headed by Alan Moser, executive vice president and a four-year veteran of the Columbus, Ohio, shop.
“You must pull the branding process out of the ad agency if you really believe in converging media,” said Rick Milenthal, agency chief executive officer.
As a stand-alone unit, Brand DNA will handle business on its own, leaving clients “without the pressure of switching agencies,” Milenthal said.
The real benefit to clients, said Milenthal, will be Brand DNA’s ability to look at a marketing problem without a media bias. “We were having trouble doing that,” he acknowledged. “This is a group on its own.”
Moser, whose experience includes time at J. Walter Thompson and the predecessor of D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, could not be reached for comment.
Milenthal also said HMS is increasing its commitment to direct marketing and new media. Joining the agency to run the HMS Direct division is Lydell Capritta, who comes from Brann Worldwide.
The increased emphasis on direct follows the September purchase of crosstown Web site design and development company Studiomotiv. The acquisition followed an 18-month search. The shop claims billings of $2 million, and counts Hewlett-Packard and AT&T among its clients.
The unit is moving into HMS’ headquarters early next month, and remains under the leadership of principal Robert Abbott. At the time of the buy, Milenthal acknowledged HMS made a somewhat late entry into the digital world. With its latest moves, he said, the shop is closer to being ready for the new century.
“A year ago, we were a very traditional agency,” Milenthal said. “This is highly accelerated. We have to break some things to succeed in the next five years.”