Former ad execs start up integrated marketing firm

CHICAGO: Two former ad execs have teamed with a former mutual fund executive to launch an integrated marketing communications shop.

CHICAGO: Two former ad execs have teamed with a former mutual fund executive to launch an integrated marketing communications shop.

The agency, Kent Cole Smith and World, has tapped the expertise of more than 100 independent PR, advertising and marketing experts to provide the across-the-board range of services demanded by clients for branding programs. Started earlier this year, the firm already has taken on insurer Zurich Kemper Life Insurance and Navigation Technologies, the largest navigation database provider in the country, as clients.

Principals Steve Smith and Chuck Kent boast advertising backgrounds, having worked together during the mid-1980s at BBDO. Jerry Cole, the third principal, was an executive with Kemper Financial Services as well as an independent business owner, thus bringing a client's perspective to the firm.

The three realized that for many clients?especially small- and medium-sized firms?the financial resources are simply not available to hire separate PR, ad and marketing agencies.

'We want to assemble a team to talk as one brand at the beginning rather than fight for dollars,' said Smith. The firm analyzes a client's branding needs, and then offers suggestions on what it believes is the right blend of advertising, PR, and pure marketing techniques.

While the shop only has seven employees in its Chicago office, it draws on its network of what Smith calls 'independent associates' for expertise on various accounts. 'We're an all-executive agency. There are no junior-level people,' he said. The founders assembled their associate team through personal contacts developed over the years.

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