Grey Direct Answers Call for BellSouth Account

Grey Direct is looking to hire executives to service its newly won BellSouth Corp. account.

The direct marketing agency plans to open an Atlanta office with 10 to 15 executives to start.

“Essentially what we're doing here is we're doing the same business model we built for Oracle,” said Larry Kimmel, CEO of Grey Direct, New York. “We built a huge capability to service the business close to Oracle's location. Two years ago we had nobody in San Francisco, and now we have the fastest-growing direct marketing operation in San Francisco. It's grown to about 40 people.”

A rarity these days, the hiring spree comes less than two months after Grey Direct rival Wunderman, New York, said it was looking to recruit as many as 150 executives to service the recently consolidated IBM Corp. account.

Positions to be filled in Atlanta include management and account supervisors and account executives. On the creative side, Grey Direct has vacancies for senior creative executives, copywriters and art directors. Print and production executives are sought, too, for their direct mail expertise.

“We also may need some people in New York … but my immediate concern at this juncture is to get this up and running,” Kimmel said.

The Grey Global Group-owned agency this month was named to handle the estimated $150 million BellSouth account along with its Grey Worldwide advertising agency sibling.

Omnicom Group's Merkley Newman Harty, New York, was the incumbent on the overall BellSouth account. Richards Group, Dallas, and Havas Advertising's Arnold Worldwide were other finalists in the pitch for the telecom account.

An $80 billion company, Atlanta-based BellSouth wants to polish its image rather than be portrayed as just another Baby Bell.

“One of the things that is important is that BellSouth be known as a real communications solutions provider as opposed to just a wonderful telecommunications service provider,” Kimmel said.

“We will help them evolve strategically and help consumers understand who they are or what they're about,” he said.

Grey Worldwide is tasked with providing brand planning, creative execution and development, and marketing to the general and ethnic populations. Grey Direct will support with expertise in direct, interactive and database marketing. Atlanta marketing shop 360 will help with online marketing communications.

BellSouth joins a roster of Grey Direct clients that includes J.P. Morgan Chase, Liberty Mutual, Glaxo SmithKline and, of course, Oracle Corp. The U.S. agency accounted for half of Grey Direct's $1 billion in billings from 42 offices in 33 countries.

Agency executives in New York also will work the account. Executives in Atlanta will handle most of the tasks, however. Tactics under consideration include direct mail, special events, Web landing pages, e-mail and online ads. All marketing is intended to generate direct response.

“They will work on all business units [of BellSouth],” Kimmel said. “They will help them in growing their DSL business. They will help them to launch long-distance services. They will help them build their large business-to-business and small-business services.”

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