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ABR 2009: Aspen Marketing Services

“The direct channel is an ideal way to reach the constantly-moving consumer. At Aspen, we execute multichannel direct campaigns designed to reach consumers through all direct channels: mail, e-mail and text. In our experience, a well-timed and targeted direct communication strengthens the relationship between the consumer and the institution.” 
— Patrick O’Rahilly, president/CEO

Aspen Marketing Services has always lived “below the line” — since its inception as a 13-agency network in 1996. Its foundations are also built in the automotive industry, thanks to its 1998 acquisition of the all-auto agency Creative Marketing International. These days, Aspen remains strong in the auto and direct worlds, with more auto names in its client roster than you’d see at any dealership and with core competencies defined as either “response” or “engagement” marketing on its Web site. But the agency has also grown, adopting new technologies, adding a Hispanic marketing arm — Aspen Latino — in 2008, and winning major clients in telecom (now its largest sector), financial and CPG.

Year founded/merged: Patrick O’Rahilly founded CMI in 1986; Aspen formed 1996; CMI acquired by Aspen in 1998

Headquarters: West Chicago, IL

Offices: 11 in the US and Canada

Web site: www.aspenms.com

Major disciplines: Direct marketing, consumer promotions, event marketing, public relations, digital marketing, Hispanic marketing, advanced analytics

Key accounts: General Motors, AT&T, ConAgra, Motorola, Georgia-Pacific, Allstate, Kraft Foods, JVC

Current agency challenges: “The advent and proliferation of social media tools and technology and the unique relationships these new tools are fostering with consumers,” says O’Rahilly. “Also, protecting the rights of direct marketers against a flurry of misguided legislation. It’s paramount that we educate misinformed legislators about the damaging effects of Do Not Mail and taxation bills.”

Biggest 2009 industry trends: “The ongoing merging of direct, digital and database marketing to create a customer/prospect/user experience that is more seamless and has a greater chance for enacting the change the sponsor is seeking,” O’Rahilly explains. “Also, the expanded use of social media as a marketing tool, and the auto industry waking up to the notion of CRM and managing customer relationships over the lifecycle.”

Top executives: Patrick J. O’Rahilly, president and CEO; Cathy Lang, COO; Don Danner, CFO; Fiore DiNovi, general counsel; Rick Goddard, CIO/CTO; Cathy Horn, VP of human resources.

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