A cure for that age-old adage?

It's that time of year when we make predictions, resolutions and generally attempt to capitalize on opportunities the new year brings. Or to at least avoid becoming last year's news.

It’s that time of year when we make predictions, resolutions and generally attempt to capitalize on opportunities the new year brings. Or to at least avoid becoming last year’s news.

From this vantage point, I’ve witnessed a lot of agency and marketer schemes to react to marketplace change. Efforts range from philosophical shifts to structural upheaval, all geared to working smarter and getting closer to what matters to the consumer. Solving John Wanamaker’s ad spend waste dilemma frequently crops up too.

One agency currently replotting itself is Capital C. The Toronto shop was recently named Marketing’s promotional agency of the year, and also its overall agency of the year. Citing work such as Capital C’s successful 360 brand creation and launch for Andrew Peller’s XOXO wine, the award sends a message, signaling the value of a nontraditional and all-encompassing partnership approach that strategy’s B!G winners were also recognized for.

Perhaps even harder evidence of the shifting priorities is the value that Cap C’s clients, such as our cover model Frito Lay Canada president Marc Guay, place on the agency’s go-to-market collaboration (see Biz, starting page 10). Guay, at our cover shoot, displayed a level of confidence in the shop that was significant, and which explains the influx of new work from the likes of RBC and McDonald’s USA, and the expansion of the shop’s remit into ideation.

For that reason alone, I felt it would be educational to share Capital C’s vision for the ultimate 2007 agency model. In February the company is moving into new digs, having hit the 200 staffers threshold, and will be doing so as Capital C – but with a new tagline: Powered by Kenna. The gist of the repositioning is to blend the expertise of two acquired companies into the fold, and create seven nimble multidisciplinary units that will each work on the business of one or two clients – including a team in Winnipeg, and one in Montreal with partner P2P (which will also now add Powered by Kenna to its name).

The reason? Accountability. Founder/CEO Tony Chapman says: ‘Clients will demand a marriage between creativity and connectivity so their investment can be measured.’

To that end, Cap C joined forces with Newport Partners, an income trust that invests in entrepreneurs, and last year they acquired Mississauga, Ont.-based CRM outfit Kenna Group. Kenna’s expertise is data collection, analysis and amplification, helping businesses identify their best clients. CRM guru Glen Chilton and database vet Paul Quigley bought in as partners in not only Kenna but Capital C and the entire business was merged last fall. More recently, Toronto-based digital outfit Adeo and the expertise of its leader, Cynthia Ross Pedersen, were added to the fold.

The plan with this new brand is to merge creativity and connectivity in a neat, ROMI-friendly model to aid in the industry evolution from an impression-based mind-set to one of tracking and measurement. And as Chapman points out, many of the elements that are easier to measure are within most Canadian organizations’ purview – specifically activation – and are often executed here by one agency, as opposed to the many typically involved in the U.S. So, you see, Canada is uniquely positioned to take a leadership role in this space.

With the middle market margin being squeezed, forcing brands to either compete on price or find ways to innovate, productive go-to-market investment is key. Capital C’s big resolution is to help clients leverage and hone their marketing spend. Building more accountability into trade investment is a component of it, by, for example, running different programs for different channels, and comparing effectiveness. And ultimately, evaluating the contributions of the various trade partners, and investing accordingly. P&G announced a similar retail resolve in the fall.

What is at stake is more effective deployment of the trillions currently spent on buying impressions in the mass media and on the store shelf. Is an agency-within-agency accountability-centric approach the solution?

What’s your resolution?

Cheer,mm

Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy/MIC