MZD makes major changes, but keeps moniker: Name of subsidiary Telematrix could evaporate

December 17, 2007

In recent months, MZD Advertising has landed six new clients, launched three new divisions and opened two new facilities.

Despite the retirement of two of the three partners that make up the ad agency's acronym moniker, MZD will not have a new name.

When Harry Davis retired this year-following Robert Montgomery's 2005 retirement-some within the industry speculated that remaining namesake principal Allan Zukerman might choose to change the firm's name.

"We have a lot of equity built up in that name," Zukerman said. "We think MZD is well-known and has a strong reputation."

Besides, Zukerman added, the agency is too busy with other projects to consider altering its name.

The most recent change is the agency's address. In November, MZD moved its headquarters from its longtime Meridian Street location-from a building owned by Montgomery-to 8425 Woodfield Crossing Boulevard.

The new headquarters, just south of 86th Street and Keystone Avenue, gives the agency a higher profile and more efficient, professional workspace, Zukerman said. The recently retired Davis agrees.

"People expect an ad agency to have more glitz than what the old building did," said Davis, who continues consulting for MZD. "The new building has high visibility, interstate access and lots of parking. I think the new building makes a very strong, positive statement."

This month, MZD is opening another office, on Rand Road near Indianapolis International Airport, to house its new interactive division. MZD's video production arm, Telematrix, also will operate from the Rand Road facility.

The future of Telematrix is uncertain as MZD's new interactive division continues to evolve.

"The work we do through Telematrix will continue, but I'm not sure what will happen to the name," Zukerman said.

In the last year, MZD launched divisions that focus on: marketing to blacks and Hispanics, dealing with emerging digital and interactive technology, and serving restaurants and franchised businesses.

Zukerman said the new divisions have helped MZD land clients Fuzion Food Group, Miller Pipeline Corp., Indiana Association of Realtors, Yosha & Associates law firm, Localjobsdirect.comand Indiana University.

"That's certainly a healthy list of new clients," said Bob Gustafson, Ball State University advertising professor. "Half of that list would be getting off to a very good 2008."

In 2006, MZD, which has 30 employees, had $14 million in local capitalized billings, and Zukerman projects "a slight increase" for 2007. Still, that's a far cry from the late 1990s, when MZD-powered by the Hoosier Lottery and Coca-Cola account-had about 70 employees and $40 million in local capitalized billings.

But Zukerman is hopeful recent changes will push the agency closer to its numbers of a decade ago.

He credits the recent signing of new clients in part to a leadership committee that has been reworked in the last six months and is now called the New Business Committee.

"That committee has done a good job of identifying potential clients," Zukerman said. "We think that effort will continue to pay off."

In recent months, MZD hired Rich Lunseth as creative director and Ryan Porter as art director. It also added a new senior account executive, account executive, account coordinator and copywriter.

"We have all the building blocks in place," Zukerman said.

While the interactive and urban divisions have significant growth potential, Ball State's Gustafson said the restaurant and franchise division is the most intriguing.

"This is the first local ad agency I know to have a division dedicated to this kind of business," Gustafson said.

MZD even installed a "tasting kitchen" at its new headquarters to help its clients with food preparation and taste demonstrations and to conduct tests to develop restaurant menus.

The division won't just handle restaurant accounts, Zukerman said. For instance, MZD recently signed a deal to help with franchise development for Localjobsdirect.com, a company aiming to compete regionally with job search firms like Monster.com.

"We think there's a real demand here, with tremendous potential for this division to grow," Zukerman said.

The restaurant-franchising and urban divisions are the fastest growing within MZD, Zukerman said. But the recently launched interactive division-which will focus on such things as direct e-mail campaigns, Web site development and marketing through blogs and social network sites-might have the greatest potential.
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