WonderGroup Lands A Big One

Fledgling Kids Marketing Shop Named AOR For Tetra Aquatics
CHICAGO–After its first six months of operation, WonderGroup finds itself far outpacing even the most optimistic expectations of agency president Dave Siegel.
The Cincinnati-based kids marketing specialist agency last week was assigned the estimated $3-5 million account for Warner-Lambert Co.’s Tetra Second Nature unit, which claims to be the largest manufacturer and marketer of aquariums and aquatic supplies.
The Tetra win is important primarily because it affords WonderGroup an agency of record relationship. The agency already handles kids marketing assignments from several clients, including Chiquita, Smucker, Trolli and Gibson Greetings. Beyond that, said Siegel, it caps unexpectedly rapid growth for the shop.
Earlier this year, Siegel left Sive/Young & Rubicam in Cincinnati, where he had headed that agency’s SmallTalk kids marketing division. He opened his own shop, WonderYears, as an affiliate of healthcare agency Scribner, owned by former Procter & Gamble executive Tim Coffey. The children’s marketing unit did so well so quickly that both halves of the agency have now been united as WonderGroup. Siegel estimated year-end billings will be $40 million.
“By the end of the first year, we’d hoped to have six clients and at least one TV campaign,” he said. Instead the agency has worked for 20 clients, with six projects involving TV work. New child-focused work for Chiquita and the Chuck E. Cheese pizza chain is planned for 1999.
Scribner had handled healthcare projects for P&G, and that connection may lead to children’s marketing projects for the agency as well, Siegel said.
The Tetra relationship began with a research project and blossomed into assignment of total marketing responsibilities, from package design through sponsorship and new product development and broadcast ads.
“It’s an opportunity to revitalize the whole hobby of aquariums, which has been flat, and do it in partnership with the largest brand,” said Siegel. “Our role will be to bring people in and show them it’s fun and it’s easy.”