For seven months, Barry Jareb was a man on a mission. Jareb, manager of marketing communications at Rockwell Automation, had one goal in mind during that time: narrow the company's 25 advertising agencies down to one.
Rockwell had more agencies than it had divisions, which made the move that much more obvious for execs looking to streamline operations. The best plan, Jareb says, was to interview many advertising firms and test their abilities in order to narrow the choices. The process, which he calls "strategic sourcing," is a technique Rockwell uses to purchase commodities, products such as fasteners, semi-conductors, wire and cable.
At first glance, it might seem odd to use the same approach to purchase advertising services. But, Jareb says, "We wanted to make sure we were working cost-effectively, so we went for a fact-based approach."
With that in mind, Jareb undertook a lengthy quest to find one agency to take over all of Rockwell's advertising. Here's how he did it:
Jareb and the other members of his team began by preparing a list of ad agencies to review. The list included the 25 incumbent agencies, as well as 25 others which were known for their results.
"We chose agencies that we knew were good and we threw in our personal favorites," says Jareb. "We knew who was qualified from researching via the Internet and trade publications. We included agencies from all over the country."
Know your prospects
Next, Rockwell's team sent each advertising firm a request for background information.
"We wanted to know the basics," Jareb explains. "For example, we asked them how big the company is, how many employees it has and what the agency's core competencies are."
The questions, Jareb says, allowed Rockwell to determine which agencies were capable of handling Rockwell's needs. After poring over the questionnaires, Jareb and his team cut the number of candidates in half.
Ask for samples
Once he had an idea of what the agencies said they could do, Jareb asked them to prove it. Each remaining candidate was asked for sample work. Jareb's team, in return, submitted samples of previous Rockwell ads and asked the agencies to quote what they would have charged for the same piece, the time it would have taken for the agency to turn it around and what was considered a rush job. Finally, Jareb had each prospect suggest cost-cutting strategies.
By then, Jareb says, "we finally had the candidates narrowed down to a handful. The only thing left to test was their creative capabilities." Since Rockwell Corp. sells automation products as well as e-commerce management solutions, Jareb gave the advertising firms a project to deal with each division. He assigned open campaigns for a newly expanded motion control product division and for a multimedia customer-contact management center.
The assignments, which the agencies were told they could develop without restrictions, were based on real product launches. That allowed Rockwell to use the results once it picked a firm.
When the final assignment was completed -- seven months into the search -- Rockwell named Wyse Advertising as its agency of record. Wyse was handed the reins to fill the advertising needs in all of Rockwell's departments and offices, in both Cleveland and Milwaukee, Wis.
One key result was that Jareb and his team members have true insight into the capabilities of Wyse.And, even if he claims it's too soon to tell exactly how much money the move will save Rockwell -- early estimates suggest it could be as much as 15 percent -- Jareb says one thing's certain: The company will no longer be saddled with the overhead of working with 25 different agencies.
How to reach: Rockwell Automation, (440) 646-5000
Courie Weston (email@example.com) is a reporter at SBN.