Holland Reboots Direct

BOSTON – After spending the past three years recasting itself as a mainstream advertising agency, Holland Mark Martin Edmund is returning to its direct marketing roots.
The Boston-based agency, which claims more than $75 million in annual billings, has formed HMME Direct. The new unit is dedicated to providing direct marketing services within the framework of an integrated agency structure, said Holland Mark chairman Bill Davis. HMME Direct is led by agency president Chris Colbert, who adds the title of managing director.
HMME Direct’s flagship client is Chicago-based telecommunications company Ameritech, for which Holland Mark has handled direct projects in print and broadcast media for the past several years. Southwestern Bell’s recent purchase of Ameritech has no effect on its relationship with Holland Mark, Davis maintained last week.
While conceding that lower overhead and production costs can make direct marketing more profitable than media advertising, Davis stressed that HMME Direct will not be operated as a separate profit center.
“Divisions create division,” Davis said. “You don’t get integration. You get divisions competing for client dollars.” HMME Direct will have some dedicated account service and brand management staff but is expected to work with other departments, especially the creative and media groups.
Three years ago, roughly 90 percent of Holland Mark’s business was direct marketing and database related, Davis said. Currently, about three quarters of the shop’s business comes from general ad accounts, a percentage Davis plans to maintain.
Holland Mark was founded by Davis and Colbert in 1986 as Database Marketing Corp. In 1996, after going through several changes in name and focus – from database services to direct marketing to general advertising – the agency moved to Boston from Burlington, Mass. Since that time, Holland Mark has been one of New England’s fastest-growing midsize shops.