Impiric Chicago Gains Unilever Account

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Unilever's North America home and personal care division in Chicago has named Young & Rubicam Inc. sibling Impiric Chicago to handle promotional marketing for its Salon Selectives, ThermaSilk and Finesse hair care brands.


Five agencies pitched for the Unilever business, including DraftWorldwide, Communicator and Frankel, all Chicago shops. The budget was not disclosed.


The account's new handler will work with J. Walter Thompson Co., part of British ad conglomerate WPP Group PLC, which acquired Y&R last year. The account previously was handled inhouse.


"This is the first cross-sell of the agencies since the sale of Y&R and Impiric in October last year," said Steve Zammarchi, president/CEO of Impiric Chicago.


The Unilever account caps a winning streak for Impiric Chicago, formerly known as Wunderman Cato Johnson. Last year's wins include Diners Club; Turner Broadcasting; Go.com; The Great Indoors and thegreatindoors.com; NASCAR; and Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Sears.com.


Older clients include Applebee's, Ericsson and United Cargo. Overall, Impiric Chicago recorded billings of $120 million last year.


Impiric's duties on the Unilever account include promotion concept; creative development and execution; strategic planning; and promotional rules and fulfillment for all sweepstakes. It also will include integrated promotional marketing for existing and new products.


"Right now our job really is to put together an integrated targeted promotion plan that's going to encourage trial of the product, and we're going to do that by pushing traffic to the Web and through direct response TV spots made in partnership with J. Walter Thompson," Zammarchi said.


JWT's Chicago office created the Salon Selectives TV spots, and the New York office developed the spots for ThermaSilk.


Salon Selectives is a line that includes styling mousse and gels, while ThermaSilk is a heat treatment shampoo that enhances blow-drying. Finesse is a regular shampoo.


"They pretty much have reinvented these brands," Zammarchi said. "They redid the packaging. It's much hipper, cooler.


"Since it's new packaging, we want to direct this younger woman to the store to try this new product and drive them to the Web because, quite honestly, the old, packaged-goods model of an FSI [free-standing insert] and Sunday inserts is not going to be read by this 21-year-old."


Rick Schreuder, director of client services at Impiric Chicago, agreed.


"I think it's more about driving sales and getting more advertising dollars to work in terms of getting trials and sales," Schreuder said, "and that's why they've engaged us to do integrated promotions."


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