Recent Posts by Roger Chiocchi

Prime Time for Public Sector RFPs

Some in the ad and marcom industry scoff at public sector RFPs. They’re not sexy. Not financial services, not travel and tourism, not telecommunications or high tech or, better yet, high tech start-ups.

Whatever you may think, now is the perfect time for public sector RFPs.

Find any branding RFP right here
RFPalooza makes it easier to find and respond to RFPs.


There are a bevy of reasons, but here are a few:

  • We’ve seen post-secondary academic institutions issue RFPs for remote learning programs and anticipate more will do so in the upcoming months as we adjust to a “new normal.”
  • With the current economy, private sector marketers will undoubtedly cut back on their marketing and advertising budgets. It’s a given. Most public sector RFPs are for government mandated programs– such as the census, voter registration, public housing availability, financial assistance and educational programs among others. These mandates are much less likely to go away during a downturn than private sector initiatives.
  • For small and medium sized agencies, cash flow is always an issue. For the most part, private sector entities that continue to market during a downturn try to stretch out their payables. Not good for an agency on an already tight budget. Also, particularly with start-ups, it remains a mystery whether you will get paid at all.
  • Public sector dollars are worth just as much as private sector dollars.

Don't Miss Out on Public Sector RFPs. Register Now.

So don’t miss out on great revenue opportunity and a way to adapt to the changing times. Register for a free month on RFPalooza. Just click here and enter FREERFPS in the coupon box on the registration page.

Going Viral: A Result, Not a Strategy

It’s the new marketing buzzword du jour (or perhaps d’hier) – "let’s go viral,” or “we need an idea that’ll go viral” or “once it goes viral, we’ll be rich.” At best, those phrases are all wishful thinking; at worst they are giveaways for one’s lack of marketing savvy. I’ve had many clients and colleagues…
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IInfusion is a term usually associated with chemistry or medicine, not marcom.  But not at OnMessage - because the Dallas-based agency has declared itself a messaging infusion company.  “I spent 14 years working with many different agencies on the client side,” Jim O’Gara, the founder of OnMessage, told us. “As a client, I was constantly…
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"It's all about the brand experience." Many agencies talk that talk. andCulture actually walks that walk. Some metaphysical blend of the social sciences, strategy, creativity and technology, andCulture creates human-centered brand experiences. “Our mission is to elicit human behaviors that create an emotional response for our clients,” Accounts Director, Erin Stine, told us. “We do…
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Most people in advertising eventually get an itch, a desire to break out from the shelter of a big agency, the tried and true, and an urge to go it on their own. Such was the case for Daniel Velez and his partners Samar Sousou and Jumana Abu-Ghazaleh.   Twelve years later the result is a thriving…
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Pool Inc.

The phrase “Avon Calling” holds a lofty place in the lexicon of American marketing. [caption id="attachment_2559" align="alignright" width="152"] Jayne Whitmer: When Avon came calling, she listened.[/caption] It also played a seminal role in the founding of Pool Inc.( – a thriving NYC agency that, when created eleven years ago, helped set the standard for the…
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Wendy’s Bloggers

[caption id="attachment_2245" align="alignright" width="150"] Wendy Hirschhorn, Founder Wendy's Bloggers[/caption] There’s a secret army out there. And they’re rapidly becoming one of the most powerful marketing forces in cyberspace. They’re called Mommy Bloggers. And PR vet Wendy Hirschhorn is unleashing their power for marketers with her new company, Wendy’s Bloggers ( Hirschhorn first discovered the power…
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Keiler Agency

CEO Lynn Taylor left DDB Needham in NY for greener pastures

CEO Lynn Taylor left DDB Needham in NYC for greener pastures

The Keiler agency is set in the scenic Connecticut countryside, has prestigious national clients in sophisticated, complex industries, is led by a former Madison Ave exec with a true appreciation for the classic art of advertising, is majority-women-owned and is staffed by professionals dedicated to strategic rigor and creative excellence.  

That alone would make Keiler unique and special in its own right.  

The Keiler ghost disrupts late night work session in this old farmhouse

The Keiler ghost disrupts late night work sessions in this old farmhouse

The fact that some of its staff members co-habitate premises with the ghost of some poor soul who passed away over a hundred years ago makes it.… umm…. well…… sort of surreal.  

“There’s an old farmhouse on the site where our building stands,’ CEO Lynn Taylor explained. ”A few years ago, we moved our account group out there. Since then, staffers have been bothered by some mysterious presence when they work late at night. I think our ghost is a bit snarky about the ad biz.”  


Keiler humanizes complex topics in ads like this for Lockheed Martin

Keiler ( has an interesting history of its own. The agency was founded in 1973 by Dick Keiler. Since then, Keiler has been housed in the same building in Farmington, Connecticut, beginning in the basement and now occupying the entire premises – all 25,000 square feet, testament to the agency’s growth. The aforementioned old farmhouse was built in 1713 -- but more about that later.

“B2B and integrated marcom services have always been vital parts of the agency’s DNA,” Taylor told us.  And that leads to the agency’s obsessiveness on strategy.  “We have a keen appreciation for the entire continuum of strategic thinking – from business strategy to marketing strategy to branding and positioning strategies and then right down through execution,” Taylor said. “Our creative work absolutely reflects the brand’s key strategic insights.”  

A provocative ad by Keiler for Spray Nine

A provocative ad by Keiler for Spray Nine

Keiler lists Lockheed Martin and Deloitte as its largest two clients – both competing in industries which require understanding of complex technologies and issues.

Recently, the agency began a new division. "We launched a health care business unit with a uniquely-Keiler twist," Taylor said. When most people think of health care advertising, they think of television ads featuring long walks on the beach and couples holding hands. But Keiler Healthcare's focus is on medical device manufacturers, hospitals, bio-tech startups and other medical-related businesses that will benefit from the agency's strategic approach toward the challenges health care marketers are currently facing.

Keiler's offices overlook the bucolic Connecticut countryside

Keiler's offices overlook the bucolic Connecticut countryside

Despite the agency’s emphasis on clients in complex, sophisticated categories, “we never try to dumb things down,” Taylor added. “Our goal is to make the story as human as possible without making it simplistic.”  

Now back to the agency’s snarkiest staff member.  


“We tried to look at historical records to figure out who the ghost might be,” Taylor said. “But over the years many people lived there – farmers, blacksmiths, candlemakers …so it's difficult to tell.”  Although anonymous, the “occupant” in the old farmhouse has left a lasting imprint.

The agency’s twitter handle is @Keilerghost


There’s a creative, analytical media agency thriving in the hills of Connecticut. [caption id="attachment_2858" align="alignright" width="168"] Founder Scott Brunjes: He went from the selling side to the buying side.[/caption] Its name is Mediassociates. “We are a group of ‘New York lifestyle-refugees’,” Scott Brunjes, President and CEO, explained. “We’re people who want to do quality work,…
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ODPN + Pink Buffalo Films

There it was. Smack on the cover of Time Magazine. The 2006 Person of the Year was simply: YOU -- an LCD screen of reflective foil. [caption id="attachment_5768" align="alignright" width="200"] Martin Fisher, ODPN & Pink Buffalo CEO[/caption] As Martin Fisher gazed upon his reflection, he sensed an opportunity literally staring him in the face. “I…
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Access Confidential

Most agencies can’t wait to get into a pitch.

But how about avoiding the pitch altogether?

“When we developed Access Confidential, our mission was to give agencies a system that would allow them to avoid the pitch by prospecting more effectively,” Access Confidential partner Lisa Colantuono said. Access Confidential is an online service started in 2005 by industry-leading search consultant, AAR Partners, run by Colantuono and partner Leslie Winthrop. “We know what agencies go through every day and developed Access Confidential with that in mind,” Colantuono told us.

AC's Colantuono: helping agencies avoid the pitch.

AC's Colantuono: helping agencies avoid the pitch.

Access Confidential provides agencies with three types of critical new business information – comprehensive data, new business insights and a live service center.

AC Partner Winthrop: put AAR USA on the map.

AC Partner Winthrop: put AAR USA on the map.

In terms of comprehensive data, Access Confidential provides subscribers with a database of 25,000+ company profiles and 115,000+ contacts.  “We like to say our service covers all three C’s of new business prospecting – Category, Consumer and Culture,” Colantuono said. “We provide information on the category, on what companies are looking for, the consumer, and our executive profiles give subscribers a very good picture of whom they’re talking to so agencies can build an effective relationship.” Access Confidential’s New Business Insights come as a result of years of partners Colantuono and Winthrop being in the trenches of agency new business pitches. “We know what it’s like to go through the new business process. We know what clients want and what agencies want.” As a result, Access Confidential includes nine reports that include information on current reviews, historical reviews and other key information. “Some would think that the current reviews report is ‘reactive’ information,” Colantuono said. “But it really isn’t. If a client is conducting a creative review, that means they soon may be conducting a media or digital review. It gives our agencies a chance to get a jump.”

Access Confidential offers agencies an abundance of new biz services.

Access Confidential offers agencies an abundance of new biz services.

The Live Service Center is a unique feature of Access Confidential. “Most agency’s new business people are stretched to the max. Our Live Service Center is essentially an extension of a subscriber’s new business team. They can contact us for anything and everything,” Colantuono mentioned. “For instance, if a subscriber has heard rumblings that XYZ Company is in review, we’ll get on the phone and get the facts. If there’s a search consultant involved, we’ll make every effort to get the information. We understand how critical it is to get the facts accurately and quickly.” Additionally, Access Confidential has some valuable “bells and whistles” as Colantuono calls them – including a creative vault, a knowledge center and an alliance with the Ratti Report. The acid test of any product or service is customer satisfaction and Access Confidential has scores of satisfied clients. Subscribers have said things such as “AC is incredibly intuitive, but even better, the service is extremely hands-on and responsive” and “Within 10 minutes of submitting a request today, I immediately had MORE than enough information to contact a major brand.” So it's no surprise that Access Confidential was voted most effective new business tool by the RSW/Mirren 2013 New Business Tools Survey. To View Stories on Marcom Companies Featured in the Past, Visit Our Wall of Fame

Firelight Media Group

It would seem that Steve Kline and Byron Campbell were pre-destined to work together. Sound and Picture. Audio and Video. The Ying and the Yang. Together, the two partners bring a masterful combination of digital media skills to The Firelight Media Group in Trumbull, CT. [caption id="attachment_1121" align="alignright" width="250"] Byron Campbell[/caption] Byron Campbell ventured into audio production…
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Some agencies have CEOs or COOs, but DigitalWire360 has a “Chief Dynamo,” and that exactly describes founder Amy Packard Berry. She started the Scottsdale-based company in 2013, after a career working at top agencies including J. Walter Thompson, Integer, Razorfish and Havas.

Amy Packard Berry, DigitalWire360's Chief Dynamo

Amy Packard Berry, DigitalWire360's Chief Dynamo

Three years strong, the agency prides itself on using innovative targeting strategies to elevate their client’s brands to the next level. According to Packard Berry, “We don’t believe in coincidences. We believe behavior transforms brands.” Clients run the gamut from Automotive to Consumer Products to Restaurants, although they’ve had great success in the healthcare sector. Packard Berry recognizes the need of an agency to design an all-in-one marketing strategy connecting patients with doctors. The agency’s passion for the community is evident in their work with non-profit organizations.

Client Logos

DW360 services a vast array of clients and industries

“We thrive at the challenges,” says Packard Berry, “propelling tourism in the White Mountains of Arizona on a limited budget to over 10,000 followers on Facebook in two years, to currently launching two exclusive consumer evaporative cooling products and re-birthing a chain of restaurants.” She observes that they are unique in the Phoenix market, as most boutique agencies vendor services out. That’s not the case with DigitalWire360. They have their own recording and video green screen production studio, social media marketing and web development teams. “The only thing we outsource is market research,” says Packard Berry.

                         A 360-degree view of DigitalWire360

A 360-degree view of DigitalWire360

DigitalWire360’s sweet spot and competitive advantage is the agency’s ability to provide everything a client/partner is looking for. Clients here have expressed a huge need to better understand digital and how it’s best used, she stated. To that end, DigitalWire360 delivers a targeted, laser-focused approach. “Client’s all need content, and storytelling is a fundamental part. We go from start to finish,” says Packard Berry.


DigitalWire360 propelled tourism in Arizona's White Mountains with this beacon adventure app.

Many of the company’s 10-person staff bring dynamic backgrounds and skills that lend a unique perspective to advertising. The creative director is a former music producer, and, she notes, an exceptionally good listener. There’s a 3D animator on board and other employees come from journalism backgrounds, with exceptional storytelling ability. The staff “lives and breathes creativity,” according to Packard Berry. Virtually all of the staff is musically inclined, whether it’s playing an instrument or singing. She plans to give back to the community by establishing a nonprofit children’s organization promoting art and music in schools. In a world where customer service increasingly takes a back seat, DigitalWire360 hones in on what clients need. “We stay with the client on the entire journey,” says Packard Berry. “At the end of the day, no matter the dollar size of the retainer, clients still need the same amount of service.


“Big companies come to the Starfish Company with complex brand strategy and experience challenges,” according to agency founder David Kessler, while the small companies rely on Starfish to be their marketing and ad agency.

New York City-based Starfish calls itself an integrated brand experience agency, blending the services of traditional ad agencies, brand agencies and marketing consultants. “My company is proven in this category, and does it better than anyone else,” according to Kessler.

Founder Kessler was looking for a new agency model

Founder Kessler was looking for a new agency model

Kessler grew up in the advertising business, working for big New York City agencies. In 2001, he was the managing director at Hill Holliday, but thought the agency business model was broken. “I decided to create a new agency model,” Kessler recalls. He determined to create an agency based on the holistic brand experience, so that all brand interactions are consistent with the core brand idea. Kessler notes, “Many companies, including the big ones, eventually lose their way when it comes to their brand strategy and core idea, never mind driving it across the entire organization.”

As an example, there’s Starfish’s campaign for Weight Watchers, of which Kessler is particularly proud. He describes it as a re-envisioning of the Weight Watchers brand, an alignment of all the company’s interactions. Weight Watchers’ new program, “Beyond the Scale” does just that, taking the focus off merely shedding pounds and helping people become healthier and more confident. In effect, the concept is life transformation. “This idea redefines the purpose and takes it to a higher level,” according to Kessler."And our work for them helped them articulate what it means and how to deliver it consistently throughout the entire customer journey.

Starfish works across all brand touchpoints

Starfish works across all brand touchpoints

Starfish identifies all touch points of a brand, including products and services, the store experience, customer service, culture and sales. It’s no easy task, but once completed, all of these interactions are aligned and create branded customer journeys.

When hiring, Kessler says he looks for individuals with intellectual curiosity, good communication skills, resourcefulness and ambition, along with the ability to speak articulately and create confidence among the clients.

Starfish re-energized Weight Watchers by changing its perspective

Starfish re-energized Weight Watchers by changing its perspective

Clients run the gamut from small to large companies, and include Sharp Electronics, PwC, American Public University System, Panasonic Health, Price Waterhouse Cooper, RiverSpring Health, Leaf Vodka, Dunkin Donuts and Weight Watchers. Starfish also does a lot of work with non-profits, such as the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, for which they designed a community outreach campaign.

When he started Starfish 13 years ago, Kessler had a vision, and he was prescient. “The world is now paying attention to brand experience,” he said. “We were right, and called the market correctly.”

The Gumbinner Company

Everyone has that special Ah-ha moment. For Paul Gumbinner, founder of The Gumbinner Company, it happened in Tuscany (no, this is not the beginning of a sappy romance novel!). . Yes, it was in the Tuscan countryside where Gumbinner had his moment –one that became a pivotal point in his life and, arguably, the New…
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Simplifying the RFP Process: An Interview with Roger Chiocchi

A big shout out to for their excellent feature article on RFPalooza and sister-site TekkiPalooza. Take a look. Simplifying the RFP Process: An Interview with Roger Chiocchi By Emily Lund Businessing Magazine sat down with Roger Chiocchi, CEO of RFPalooza and Tekkipalooza, to find out more about how he and his companies are helping…
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Mad Men Finale Poll

[caption id="attachment_7403" align="alignright" width="214"] Transcendental Reverie or Commercial Inspiration?[/caption]     Okay, we're all in the ad biz in one way or another. And probably an overwhelming majority of us are fans of Mad Men and watched the Mad Men Finale. On Sunday night, we saw Joan become a producer, Peggy fall in love, Betty…
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Crowdfunding + Social Media for Non-Profits

Crowdfunding campaigns are now an essential tool in the fundraising arsenal to get a project or company off the concept stage and into launch mode. The success of a crowd-funding campaign is largely dependent on how it is marketed; social media marketing and strategic targeting to the appropriate audiences are key factors in reaching a…
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