When a client comes to an advertising agency to introduce a new product or grow their business, the ad agency will develop a campaign to reach the target audience. But Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (BDA) Inc. goes much further than that. BDA helps its clients with event support, gift-with-purchase promotions and even getting new products on store shelves. Its ongoing goal is to work with its clients to deepen the relationship between people and brands.
“We are a merchandise agency,” says Rick Rayl, vice president of purchasing and operations. “When a client wants to launch a new product, boost their brand or expand their growth potential, we help them do that through merchandise.
“We help Starbucks get their branded aprons to every store, and we stock the register area with teddy bears and other items to get the brand out,” he explains. “Working with sports teams, we get the rally towels out to the fans. We help them with the merchandising on bobble-head night. The teams’ challenge is to get people into the stadiums, and we help them get fired up for the team.”
Based in Woodinville, Wash., BDA is a consultancy that works with clients to ensure their promotional dollars are being spent effectively. Combining its extensive industry experience with consumer insights, brand strategy and clients’ promotional objectives, BDA helps clients develop creative promotional ideas that go far beyond standard offerings like a pen or coffee mug. Working with clients such as Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball and GEICO, BDA uses its services to deliver client-specific value.
Ready and Working Well
BDA works with many blue-chip clients with global brands, and its logistics capabilities help clients get their products all over the world. “We custom-design products for our clients,” Rayl says. “We have decorators who can put a logo or particular image on a product. For example, Bank of America hands out laundry bags to college kids. We help them create these products and then get the products to where they need to be.”
Many of BDA’s departments work together to manage its supply chain. The project management team takes care of the custom design of the merchandise, and the supplier services department manages domestic and imported supplies. The logistics team works with customs brokers to help move the merchandise, and the quality control team monitors manufacturing. BDA also has 3PO partners all over the world that help it get product to where it needs to be. For example, it got clients’ products to Rio for the World Cup and will do the same when the city hosts the Olympics.
“We are always looking to enhance our supply chain,” Rayl says. “We’re looking into automation to make the GS-128 barcode requirements of retailers more efficient. This helps retailers identify the contents of shipments, so there has to be an intelligent sticker on every carton that explains what is in the carton, what pallet it was on and what truck it came in on. This is a major operational challenge, so we’re developing solutions to help us automate this and be ready for clients that will require it.”
BDA also is improving its material handling at its fulfillment centers to better meet the needs of its event customers, he says. This involves minor remodeling and enhancing some equipment to support its clients.
“We have to be ready and have our operation working well so we can support clients for major events,” Rayl says. “We get products to the Super Bowl. On Cinco de Mayo, we get products to all of Constellation’s brands’ distributors so they can be distributed to all the bars and restaurants. Look at the Olympics – no one really knew of Sochi before the Olympics, and there was no airport or shipping docks to get product in. But we did it, and we were able to deliver at least 80 percent of the Olympics’ promotional merchandise because of the relationship we have with the International Olympic Committee.”
In fact, it is BDA’s relationships with clients, suppliers and partners that have helped it become a leading merchandise agency, and it is the value it places on these relationships that drive it forward. “We get the job done when others say it can’t be done,” Rayl says. “We are very creative and use creative problem-solving techniques for supply chain issues.”