Buy.com Clicks on Rubin Postaer as Offline Agency

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Rubin Postaer and Associates, Santa Monica, CA, an independent, privately owned advertising and marketing shop, became the agency of record this week for online retailing company Buy.com, Aliso Viejo, CA.


Positioning itself as an e-commerce superstore, Buy.com is turning to Rubin Postaer for the design and execution of all offline advertising and marketing, as well as offline media planning and buying.


Gary Wenzel, senior vice president and director of client services at RPA, said his firm won the account largely because of the agency's early and aggressive commitment to fully researching Buy.com's competitive playing field in the online consumer products retailing arena.


At Buy.com, John Herr, senior vice president of advertising sales and marketing, said his team was impressed with RPA's strong track record in launching what he referred to as "new and invigorating existing brands."


But he said the key attraction to RPA was that the agency's "team demonstrated a solid understanding of our business and our customers, as well as an ability to think strategically about how to position our brand."


Exactly what that positioning and marketing strategy will involve, however, remains a closely guarded secret. Even in general terms, Wenzel was uncomfortable characterizing the approaches that were being planned.


"I don't think we can really divulge anything at this point exactly, based on what we've learned," he said. "And because I don't want to tip our hat to any competitors, let's just say we are going to be working closely with their management team, working with them initially much like we would with consumers -- to identify [and clarify] what their vision is for the company.


"Starting off, we'll basically be focusing on helping them to leverage what we've both learned," he said.


However, Wenzel did not rule out a specific direct marketing focus to help buttress the promotion of large-ticket items, such as computer system packages, high-end entertainment ensembles or premium golf clubs.


"There may very well be some targeted direct mail, but it will largely support a broadcast and print approach," Wenzel said.


He said a large-scale direct mail effort of 500,000 pieces or more for one promotion would not be out of the question.


But, Wenzel said, "when you're dealing with this kind of superstore category, reaching your target market still begs for mass media. And the people at Buy.com understand the power of a brand and the importance of integrating a [variety of] approaches. They know they have to communicate that they are about more than just a place where people go for lower prices."


Buy.com's overall advertising budget for next year is estimated at $60 million, with $20 million to $25 million already pegged for offline advertising and marketing. RPA has approximately 20 people working on the Buy.com account.


RPA employs 470 people nationwide and 40 people in its interactive marketing division. Annual agency billings run about $660 million. Other clients include American Century Investments, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. (both Acura and Honda vehicles), ARCO Products Co., Gardenburger, the Unicare division of WellPoint, and the VH1 television channel.


Buy.com is a leading Internet superstore that offers a range of products, including computer hardware and peripherals, software, consumer electronics, books, videos, DVDs, games, music, golf, clearance equipment and travel booking services.
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