NSL’s New Product Unit Earns A Separate Identity With P&G Role

Northlich Stolley LaWarre has given its 10-year-old new product development group its own brand name.
The $100 million Cincinnati agency has christened the unit BrandStorm and named 21-year agency veteran Bruce Mackey as its director. The change was announced by NSL president Mark Serrianne, who last month took on the chief executive title and principal ownership of the agency.
Helping to spur the change was longtime NSL client Procter & Gamble’s recent decision to name the group as agency of record for corporate new ventures.
P&G’s move “was a recognition of our skills and a valued endorsement,” Mackey said. Because the unit’s product development work often does not involve the full-service advertising functions of NSL, restructuring the group as a separate outfit with its own identity should make it easier to explain its role to potential clients, Mackey said.
For example, the 12-person BrandStorm group has handled development and testing of many new P&G products over the years–most recently, Febreze fabric freshener, Femstat yeast infection remedy and the Dryel home dry-cleaning product. But advertising responsibility for Febreze was given to Grey, New York, while Leo Burnett, Chicago, is handling Femstat and Dryel.
“That’s fine with us,” Mackey said of BrandStorm’s upfront-only role with those brands. “We’re happy to find the right way to bring a brand to life” and then send it to another agency, he said. “We’re not here to undo [clients’] relationships with their other agencies.”
The brands aren’t always surrendered to other agencies, however. After the new product group handled development of H.J. Heinz unit StarKist’s Seaside Gourmet frozen seafood line, NSL took over the product’s test-market consumer advertising.
The unit also has done–and is seeking to do more–repositioning work on existing products, Mackey said. Other BrandStorm clients include Brown-Forman and International Home Foods.