In a crowded, hyper-competitive marketplace, it’s difficult for even a smart, talented agency to stand out, so a couple of years ago Joan Schnedier decided she needed to do something to distinguish her Boston-based firm from dozens of other creative, consumer-focused boutique agencies. So she decided to focus on becoming a thought leader in a single category, new product introductions, creating a methodology called Idea Camp and underwriting some important new research into what makes new products memorable and ultimately successful. The position proved particularly timely, after authors Al and Laura Reis argued in The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR for a greater role for public relations in brand building.
Although revenues were flat in 2002, much of the firm’s new business success was in the product launch arena, handling confidential assignments in the oral pharmaceutical and soap categories, as well as the introduction of a new bra for client Vanity Fair Intimates. The new line of intimate apparel is designed for curvaceous women and will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, with Queen Latifah is the spokesperson for the nationwide launch.The firm also saw some growth in the biotech sector, with American Biophysics, a client since 1999, expanding its relationship with S&A as it takes its Mosquito Magnet product to market in the United Kingdom and eight Latin American countries. Schneider will work with partners in IPREX network of independent agencies to handle the company’s international needs. New biotech clients include Serenex and Boston Biomedica and other new clients include the New England office of Trammell Crow Company.