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Holmes Report
News and insights from the global PR industry


Lifestyle marketing, with a focus on sports and entertainment New York, Los Angeles

Holmes Report


Our 2008 New Consultancy of the Year, Catalyst has done nothing over the past 12 months to make us re-think our initial judgment that the firm has found a winning formula, blending an expertise in—and passion for—sports, entertainment and active lifestyle clients with a focus on media relations that’s underpinned by an emphasis on consumer insights and strategic planning. It’s a formula that delivered healthy double-digit growth during a down economy in 2009 and continues to attract blue-chip brands to a firm that still belongs in—but is rapidly outgrowing—the boutique category.  
Catalyst was founded in 2005, when Bret Werner, a 13-year veteran of Alan Taylor Communications, took advantage of the firm’s restructuring—it has since become simply Taylor—to launch a spinoff that both continued and built on the firm’s heritage. Like the old Alan Taylor, Catalyst is focused on sports marketing—which accounts for slightly more than half of revenues—and on media relations, although Catalyst takes a sophisticated view, with expertise media mapping, messaging and measurement, and has expanded its capabilities beyond traditional channels to include significant expertise in digital and social media. In 2009, the firm invested heavily in research and measurement tools including Iconoculture for comprehensive consumer insights, Radian6 for online monitoring and evaluation and third party partner Prime Research to enhance research and measurement methods.
Take this endorsement from client Herbie Calves, vice president of marketing for Timex Group: “Success when it comes to public relations is typically measured by results. But to get results, you really need to understand the media industry. Catalyst has proven to me that it has the intimate knowledge and experience required to get results. The one-two punch of insightful strategic counsel and aggressive tactical execution has helped Timex elevate its brands in the crowded marketplace.” Or this from Mack Bridenbaker, senior public relations manager at Subway Restaurants: “Catalyst combines an unmatched combination of strategic insight and implementation in the consumer space,”
The firm’s work on impending introduction of the Timex Expedition WS4 in 2009 was one of the highlights of last year’s work, with high-impact media relations helping the company sell out of WS4 inventory within two weeks of launch while netting Timex a database of more than 2,000 target consumers open to receiving direct communication from the brand moving forward. For Subway, meanwhile, Catalyst developed a business-to-business communications program to showcase the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust (the marketing arm of the sandwich franchise) as the driver of the success of the $5 Footlong sandwich, reaching business influencers and 22,000 Subway franchisees who support the company’s marketing budget.
With growth of close to 15 percent in 2009, Catalyst ended the year with fee income of around $4.6 million, more than doubling in size over the past three years. There was new business from Under Armour and AAA and an agency of record assignment from Subway Restaurants, while the company continues to work with Timex, ESPN, Purina, Glaceau Vitamin Water, Powerade, Consumer Reports, Abbott Nutrition’s EAS, Callaway Golf and NASCAR, often providing specialized strategic support to larger firms with an agency-of-record relationship, ensuring that the companies in question can get the right messages into the right top-tier media.
The firm continued with Catherine Reynolds (formerly with leading PR research and evaluation firm Echo Research) as vice president consumer insights and primary research, adding Megan Hueter, formerly on the Edelman Digital team Washington, D.C., and co-founder, who has extensive experience in building online communities and engaging consumers. They join a leadership team that includes managing partners Bret Werner and Bill Holtz and vice president Rob Bronfeld—all three veterans of Taylor.
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