True North Offers E-Drive

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Ad conglomerate True North Communications' Marketing Drive Worldwide subsidiary has created e-Drive, an agency that will offer integrated database, direct and digital marketing services.

The new entity also will incorporate Sierra Communications, a direct marketing shop acquired recently by True North that last year reported revenue of more than $6 million. E-Drive also will work with True North's new database resource, Analytici.

E-Drive, South Norwalk, CT, which has an overseas office in London, will bolster True North's interactive relationship marketing offerings. True North, Chicago, last year claimed billings of $14 billion through agency brands such as FCB Worldwide for advertising, BSMG Worldwide for public relations, and Marketing Drive for marketing services.

"It's really more of a new agency than a spinoff," Mickey Goodman, formerly president of customer relationship management at Marketing Drive and now CEO of e-Drive, said of the start-up's creation.

Goodman said the rise in importance of technology-enabled marketing forced Marketing Drive, Wilton, CT, to establish a separate company dedicated to integrated marketing. E-Drive's focus on interactive relationship marketing will be complemented by Marketing Drive's promotional and advertising services.

The new shop starts with clients such as GE Capital, General Cigar Corp. and American Express Co. E-Drive's services will be hawked to current Marketing Drive clients.

E-Drive's services include identifying business prospects and personalizing communications to consumers. Under that umbrella, it will offer help with strategy, database development, targeting, optimization, technology integration and Web site creation and care.

Marketing Drive last year reported global revenues of more than $50 million. With 43 offices in 27 countries, it offers services such as sales promotion, branding, event and relationship marketing, promotional services and consulting.

"The reason why we created e-Drive as a new agency is that the existing Marketing Drive offices didn't have a strong capability in this area," Goodman said. "As opposed to looking at 20 offices around the world and trying to put people in our company on an office-by-office basis, this gives us much better talent."

Recent hires include Tig Tillinghast as vice president of business development and David Griffith as vice president of creative services. Susan Lonie joined as vice president of account services. Eric Tolkin, former CEO of Sierra Communications, becomes executive vice president of e-Drive.

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