Canadian Group Acquires Bassett, Re-brands as Optus Direct Response

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Optus Corp., the business and technology unit of international marketing and secure transaction concern MDC Inc., Toronto, this week acquired Bassett Direct Inc., a Canadian direct marketing services agency it has renamed Optus Direct Response.

Lyle Kerr, president/CEO at MDC's secure transactions division, said the acquisition and re-branding of Bassett was one of several initiatives allowing MDC and Optus to apply more competencies in online communications, customer relationship management and statement marketing to the direct marketing world. He said the new company will continue to be managed on a day-to-day basis by its founder Rich Bassett, who now reports to president and chief operating officer at Jon Hantho, Optus.

Hantho said the purchase of Bassett is helping the company extend a more comprehensive suite of offerings to its clients. "The depth of [our] capabilities in electronic presentment and delivery uniquely positions Optus Direct Response to offer integrated online and print direct marketing services to agencies and customers that are [still] making the migration to e-business."

With 1999 revenues exceeding CDN $9 million, the company is already considered a substantial DM services player throughout Canada. It also enjoys a number of existing supplier relationships with many of the country's leading advertising agencies. But the transformed shop's most prospective new growth area will likely emerge from the Internet and the integrated marketing demands that the medium places on clients.

"Optus Direct Response approaches direct marketing services from a whole new perspective," said Bassett. "Today, most companies' direct marketing efforts focus on customer acquisition. Optus Direct Response leverages Optus' expertise in customer data analysis to offer agencies and their customers communications programs directed at customer growth and profitability, as well as customer acquisition," he said.

With the formation of Optus Direct Response, the company leaders said they hope to solidify its competitive position as one of the "largest and most comprehensive customer communication providers in Canada" - one that can offer integrated communications solutions in e-business as well as traditional direct response.

"This is the beginning of an exciting era for Optus Direct Response," Bassett said. "We will focus on helping our traditional direct marketing clients make the transition to e-business. We will also help [them] apply advanced customer relationship management strategies to their customer communications to enhance the lifetime value of the customer relationships - relationships they have already created through direct marketing."
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