Nowell Upham, EVP, promotional marketing, The Marketing Arm

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Nowell Upham
Nowell Upham

Two key clients: American Airlines and AT&T
Joined The Marketing Arm: June 2007

When you hear the term “direct marketing,” what do you think? How do you think that term is changing today?

I used to think about a standard number 10 envelope with a stamp on it.  Then I thought about e-mail, too.  Now I think mail, e-mail, RSS feed, widget, social network, and mobile phone.  More marketing channels are reaching me directly.

What makes a true agency visionary?

It's the ability to connect two dots, and then a third one that isn't inked yet. Seeing a trend or collection of ideas, events, or facts, and creating something new in the “space” between them. It's also about knowing or discovering what it takes to bring an idea to life.

What is the biggest challenge your company faces today?

Controlling our growth and resisting the urge to jump into every newly-developing area within the increasingly-fragmented marketing worlds. At our core, we engage consumers. How we do that – whether through sponsorships, or music, or TV and film and gaming integrations, or events, or digital promotions – depends on the brand and the objectives. The challenge is focusing on what we do best.

What does the agency of the future look like?

Siloed, but with a twist. They'll have different management teams, profit centers, and departments staffed by experts with well-defined roles and responsibilities.  But clients will only work with a single, senior-level, strategic account leader who is an expert on their business, even when the client taps into the various silos. This eliminates the “competing agenda” issue that's imminent when working with multiple groups. The key will be providing vertical depth while delivering seamless execution across the various platforms.

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