PROFILE: Curran: Ogilvy’s Jekyll and Hyde brand man - Although David Ogilvy literally wrote the book on branding, the PR firm that bears his name has focused on its own identity only recently. Not long after Ogilvy, Adams & Rinehart became O

This past Halloween, Ogilvy PR’s Chicago office gave client AmericanGreetings.com a double treat. SCREAMail, which offered celebrity screams culled from television and movie clips, successfully re-launched the greeting card company’s Web site and gave the company a hipper, more contemporary edge.

This past Halloween, Ogilvy PR’s Chicago office gave client AmericanGreetings.com a double treat. SCREAMail, which offered celebrity screams culled from television and movie clips, successfully re-launched the greeting card company’s Web site and gave the company a hipper, more contemporary edge.

This past Halloween, Ogilvy PR’s Chicago office gave client

AmericanGreetings.com a double treat. SCREAMail, which offered celebrity

screams culled from television and movie clips, successfully re-launched

the greeting card company’s Web site and gave the company a hipper, more

contemporary edge.



Besides earning national media coverage and driving traffic to the site,

it became an e-product all its own and spawned a follow-up - SMOOCHMail

for Valentine’s Day.



A blend of marketing and public relations, the above example typifies

Mark Curran’s approach. ’Marketing PR professionals must be media savvy,

and they should also understand the dynamics of marketing. In short,

marketing PR professionals must have a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in

them; one part media hound, one part marketer,’ says Curran, MD of

Ogilvy PR’s global marketing practice.



Since joining Ogilvy PR in September 1998, Curran has been applying his

18 years of marketing and branding experience (honed at Cohn & Wolfe and

GCI Group for brands like Marlboro, Gillette and Rogaine) to building

Ogilvy’s marketing practice. In doing so, he’s helped revitalize the

brand image of brandmaker Ogilvy PR itself.





Branding the brandmaker



’Ogilvy has a great heritage,’ says Ogilvy CEO Bob Seltzer, ’but we

weren’t as far along as we needed to be in our marketing practice. Mark

understands more than anyone does what the establishment of a brand

really means and how to use communications to get to that point. We

wanted him to reinvigorate the marketing practice and through that to

reaffirm Ogilvy PR as a leader in how to build brands.’



So far, so good: the marketing practice grew 65.6% percent in 1999 and

is now the third-largest practice worldwide with dollars 48 million in

revenues, according to figures from the Council of PR Firms. Recent wins

include Kimberly-Clark, Nike, Wingspan Bank, Surf Monkey, Paradise

Foods, the Italian Trade Commission, the USS Arizona/Pearl Harbor

Memorial and San Pelligrino mineral water.



’We want to develop 360-degree branding for Ogilvy as well as our

clients - a practice that insures that no matter where or how a consumer

interaction takes place - direct mail, or even how a receptionist

answers a phone - it’s all working off the same imprint,’ Curran says.

In Ogilvy’s case, that means a consistent approach in quality and

expertise, using proprietary tools like Brandz, an in-depth study of

product brands, and Ogilvy’s ’brand bonding’ approach.



As of January, Curran has been focusing on the global marketing practice

exclusively (he had previously handled the New York practice as

well).



’I define approaches to how Ogilvy does business instead of managing an

office or group,’ he says.



Although Curran leads a 150-person team, he is remarkably low-key -

almost ’Gary Cooper-esque,’ according to former and current members of

his staff.



When asked about major personal accomplishments, Curran demurs, choosing

to talk about winning work from Coke and Minute Maid, Ogilvy’s

proprietary tools and new hires across the globe. The

AmericanGreetings.com work, for example, was won by the Chicago office,

and a conference call brainstorm with the San Francisco office and its

Alexander Ogilvy technology unit generated ideas. ’It was a new way to

rally the troops,’ Curran says.



The call and the overall project also advanced Curran’s goal: to get

people ordinarily grouped by different specialties to be part of the

marketing practice, and more comfortable with calling on each other.





No ’I’ in Curran



If Mark Curran can’t quite get that this is a profile about him, it’s

understandable - the former Division III college basketball player has

been a team player for most of his life. As a boy growing up in New York

City’s Stuyvestant Town complex, he teamed with his brother to screen

questions to celebrities for a feature in Family Weekly, a newspaper

supplement edited by his father Bob, a veteran journalist and later PR

pro at NBC Sports. Later, as director of sports information at Yale,

Curran counseled some of the world’s leading sports associations,

including the PGA of America and Special Olympics International.



While at Cohn & Wolfe, Curran began to explore the relationships between

PR, marketing and branding. ’One of the first things I learned after

joining the agency world in 1988 was that Marlboro’s Indy Car racing

involvement, including full branding of the car, was a modern day

embodiment of the brand’s famous Marlboro Man qualities,’ he recalls.

Later at GCI Group, Curran tripled the size of the New York marketing

practice and was instrumental in developing GCI’s approach to brand

marketing.



’On brand marketing, I subscribe to what David Ogilvy said many years

ago: successful brands are those that build bonds with their consumers,’

he says. If the same philosophy applies to people, the Curran brand is

in good shape. ’I’ve been working with Mark for four years now, here and

elsewhere,’ says Wendy Schwimmer, an Ogilvy SVP. ’He adds value to the

teams and does so in a way that’s not overbearing. He looks out for his

people, too; I’m a working mom and he made it work for me so I don’t

have to compromise my personal life.’



As SVP of brand marketing for Healtheon/WebMD, Larry Logan worked with

Curran on strategy: ’He’s very much a quarterback or conductor, able to

see the big picture and bring in the right people and resources. And

he’s fun to work with. I’m a serial client of Mark’s - as chief

marketing officer of Verde Media I asked for his counsel, too.’



A spate of new hires in London, Los Angeles and New York and the pursuit

of travel, lifestyle and kids’ marketing as key growth areas will likely

keep Curran busy in the near future. And if Ogilvy starts shopping for

Latin American shops, Curran may have to learn Spanish. ’The end game,’

he says, ’is to make Ogilvy the Ford of marketing.’ That may be a ways

down the road, but Curran at least has the firm pointed in the right

direction.





MARK CURRAN



Managing Director, Global Marketing Practice



Ogilvy PR Worldwide





1980 Yale University Director of sports information



1988 Cohn & Wolfe/NY, rises from SAE to VP



1993 GCI Group/NY



Rises from VP to SVP to EVP/MD, consumer marketing



1998 Ogilvy



MD, global marketing practice.



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