New direction, new handle

The name is gone, but the influence - not to mention the man, himself - remains. After more than 40 years of having the name Wunderman eponymously associated with that of the organization - most recently as Wunderman Cato Johnson -...

The name is gone, but the influence – not to mention the man, himself – remains.

After more than 40 years of having the name Wunderman eponymously associated with that of the organization – most recently as Wunderman Cato Johnson – the global direct marketing agency has renamed itself in a bid to better reflect new service offerings and research and development capability.

Trish Wheaton, managing director of the Toronto office of the newly named Impiric, admits the change is heavy with significance – especially considering founder Lester Wunderman is still actively involved at Impiric’s headquarters in New York.

‘I’ve known Lester for years, and I had a very interesting moment with him recently,’ Wheaton recounts. ‘I looked at him and said, ‘So, are you really OK with this?’ And he just looked me in the eye and said he was more energized about this company now than when he founded it, and it’s exactly what we should be doing.

‘We’ve all been very sensitive about the man whose name is on the door. It’s a big moment when it comes down.’

Impiric was actually the second name chosen for the company. The first selection was ‘~ology,’ but it was nixed by corporate parent Young & Rubicam before it could be unveiled.

Wheaton insists the name change is not merely cosmetic.

‘It’s significant on several fronts,’ she explains. ‘First of all, changing a name with that much heritage to something totally different certainly is a seismic action, both on the part of this company and how much it resonates in the marketplace. Wunderman has always been the sine qua non of traditional direct marketing. What makes this more significant is that it represents how much this company has changed in the past 20 months.’

Those changes include John Bingle taking over as CEO in summer 1998, and the broadening of the scope of the former WCJ’s capabilities to include customer relationship management, teleservices and sales promotion, along with database marketing and traditional direct marketing services.

‘The market has changed fundamentally, and it’s changed forever,’ Wheaton says. ‘One narrow bandwidth solution doesn’t work for anybody anymore. You have to manage all the different marketing activities and bring them together in a very thoughtful way.

‘The Wunderman name telegraphed traditional, below-the-line direct marketing to current clients and prospective clients so much that it was something – as great as it has been and as proud as we are of it – that we had to change to really get clients to look at us in a new way.’

Lester Wunderman will serve as worldwide director of the Impiric Marketing Lab, a research and development facility concentrating on proprietary solutions in CRM, smart card technology, interactive television and Web-based marketing.

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.