Princeton Partners Keeps Rolling

Princeton Partners, in business since 1989, is shifting into overdrive. The advertising agency has upped its personnel rolls from 45 to 70 within the past year and has just expanded its offices, going from 11,000 to 18,000 square feet at 100 Village Boulevard in Forrestal Village.

"We had two and three people stacked up together," says Tom Sullivan, president and CEO of the agency. "It was time to expand." In the past two weeks alone, three employees came onboard.

These new hires will find little nailed down in their workplace. "Everything is on wheels," says Sullivan. "Every desk, every workstation, every chair." Not only does the movable furniture help with future expansion – Sullivan is aiming to add another 30 employees soon – but it also makes for easier collaboration, he says. Any team member can easily scoot over to join colleagues in brainstorming for one client, wheel over to a quiet corner to work on a presentation, and then zip over to join another group working on a project for a different client.

Meanwhile, the agency may be the only shop in the Princeton area to own its own fleet of fashion-forward vehicles, Scion cars and Segway people movers, which are used to generate interest at clients’ events.

The wheeled office furniture, along with the Scions and Segways, could be metaphors for Sullivan’s thoughts on succeeding in advertising.

"The world is changing so fast," he says. Those who stand still quickly become road kill. "I’m paranoid," he says in answer to a question on why his agency is thriving even as others are dropping off the map. "My focus is how do we create future value."

The company, which is owned by Sullivan and several of his senior managers, has grown during the past year, he says, through sharing in the success of core clients, acquiring new clients with ties to those core clients, and generating new business unrelated to ongoing relationships.

An example of a client won through an existing relationship, he says, is North Shore LIJ health system, a group of 17 hospitals. Princeton Partners has been working with the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation for years, and the new business sprung from that relationship. An example of brand new business is its signing of Greenfield Online, a consumer marketing research firm.

In another category, one that possibly could be labeled "whew!," Princeton Partners retained its longstanding relationship with Western Pest Control after that company was acquired by bug-killing-giant Orkin. Sullivan says that it is unusual for Orkin to allow one of its acquired companies to continue to operate under its own name. He credits the exception to the strength of Western’s brand, which his company helped to forge.

Sullivan’s staff works new media for all it’s worth. He points with pride to a virtual online campaign with a reality television component that his agency created for Unilever way back in 2000, 2001. Keeping up on every fresh new media wrinkle is an ongoing obsession. "But," says Sullivan, "we still run lots and lots of print ads."

There are so many ways to market a client. It’s the Internet for sure, including boosting search engine results, a Princeton Partners’ specialty, and also radio, television, and print – but it’s so much more. Sullivan says that his agency gets involved in strategic planning "at the CEO level."

Many steps below the CEO level, in prestige, but not in importance, is its man-in-the-street efforts. He says that, today, with consumers firmly in control, it is vital to reach "human touch points." It used to be that advertisers talked to consumers and told them about the wonders of their products. That approach is significantly less successful when consumers can compare prices on any number of websites and can also turn to the Internet to read product reviews of everything from cell phones to hotel rooms.

A key way to reach these savvy consumers is to bring them into the buying experience. "It’s interactive marketing," says Sullivan. His agency now spends a lot of time cultivating relationships with celebrities who are willing to grace local events. It has feet on the street handing out samples and brochures. And it wraps those Scions with client messages and brings the oh-so-cool Segways to client events.

Directing these efforts in a number of cities, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., are Princeton Partners’ virtual employees, working out of their homes to bring clients’ messages directly to the street.

It’s not 1989 anymore. This terrifying thought, filled with consumers madly trading shopping tips 24/7 in chat rooms, writing blogs from every corner of the earth, and comparison shopping for neurologists, keeps Sullivan on his toes, feeds his paranoia, and has him ordering more and more wheels for the employees he needs to keep ahead of it all.

– Kathy Spring

Princeton Partners Inc. , 100 Village Boulevard, Suite 200, Princeton 08540-6618. Thomas M. Sullivan, CEO and owner. 609-452-8500; fax, 609-452-7212. E-mail:

NXLevel Expands

NXLevel has annexed a Clinton-based E-learning firm, Symstruck LLC, and the owner of that business, Jim Delaney, has moved his office to NXLevel’s 12-person office.

Delaney had been consulting on a project basis with NXLevel. "It made sense to have him work with us full time," says Pete Sandford, vice president. "He expands the services we can offer. NXLevel is a production company, and Jim gets involved very early on in determining the strategy of whether E-learning makes sense, and if so, how."

"Online learning is extremely powerful, but if it isn’t planned and implemented properly it can cause a lot of headaches from both a technical and instructional point of view," says Delaney. "Pharmaceutical companies don’t want to be in the E-learning business, they simply want the best platform, tools, and processes to support their knowledge transfer needs."

Delaney’s services, which go under the name Knowledge Path, include needs and gap analysis, learning infrastructure evaluation and selection, competency center design and planning, change management, and process improvement.

To make sure Knowledge Path’s neutrality is not compromised, it constitutes a separate entity. "If it is a Knowledge Path project, it is very clear that NXLevel may not get any production work out of it," says Sandford. "Jim is working with pharmaceutical companies that may have existing resources, and the client holds the decision power."

Earlier this summer NXLevel – with Delaney on board – rolled out a big project, an audit training program for a major accounting firm to use in a five-day workshop. "It was an interactive computer-based program that simulates a day in the life of a young auditor," says Sandford. Complete with animated characters in a live simulation, it was geared to appeal to 20-somethings.

"In the classroom, right in the middle of working on something, the auditor will get blindsided by an E-mail or a voice mail. Or the person they need to interview turns out to be unavailable," says Sandford. The program lets the instructor repopulate the content the night before the classroom session. "It further cemented our ability to work together."

NXLevel, 57 Hamilton Avenue, Suite 300, Hopewell 08525; 609-466-2828; fax, 609-466-4322. Pete Sandford, executive vice president. Home page:

Top Of PageRosetta Plus Simstar

Equals Rosetta

A marketing firm that focuses on branding is in the process of rebranding itself with a different name. Rosetta Marketing Strategies Group has moved from 502 Carnegie Center, where it had 6,600 square feet, to join the company with which it merged, Simstar, at the American Metro Center. American Metro is the former American Standard factory.

The move consolidates the merger. The move-in date was July 15 and the official name change will happen on September 5. Both companies will be known as, simply, Rosetta.

"It’s great to be here, on the second floor, with the old American Standard sign, says Christopher B. Kuenne, Rosetta’s president. Rosetta has 80 people at this location, including those from Simstar, and 130 employees nationally; it also has offices in Manhattan and Denver.

As the name of the firm indicates, the Rosetta strategy is not unlike the principle used by J.F. Champollion and other scholars while deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics. "It is the art and science of understanding one category to understand the others," says Kuenne. The Rosetta Stone, discovered by Napoleon’s troops in 1799, had inscriptions by priests of Ptolemy V in hieroglyphic, demotic, and Greek. The one language known provided the key to deciphering the others.

A new logo retains the logotype of the original rosetta logo but has a key design element, the shooting star from Simstar’s logo, resulting in an arc that looks a bit like a star.

Bill Barish of Commercial Property Network represented Rosetta and Simstar in the transaction, which totals 26,000 square feet. Innovative Commercial Interiors provided the furnishings. Rosetta’s former Carnegie Center space is available for sublease.

Kuenne went to Princeton University, Class of 1985, and has a Harvard MBA. He spent 10 years in marketing management at Johnson & Johnson, and was a partner at First Manhattan Consulting Group, leading the firm’s retail marketing practice before founding his own firm. Rob Rebak, co-founder of Simstar, is now general manager of Rosetta Solutions.

Rosetta’s marketing strategy development is based on high resolution segmentation. "Most segment applications are based on the consumer’s behavior, attitude, needs," says Kuene. "We figure out a way to translate the insight we have about the consumer – behavior, attitude, needs – to develop a deeper understanding of the consumer’s decision making process."

The decision to eliminate the Simstar name and the multiple words in the Rosetta name was based on the kind of brand research in which Rosetta specializes. "After much deep analysis we realized that the Rosetta brand name was consistent with where we are as an overall enterprise," says Kuenne.

Formerly Rosetta implemented its marketing solutions by working with another advertising agency. Says Kuenne: "Now, with the former Simstar’s capability, we are able to provide end to end insight, strategy, and implementation."

Rosetta, 100 American Metro Boulevard, Hamilton 08619; 609-689-6100; fax, 609-631-0184. Christopher B. Kuenne, president.

Top Of PageDeutsch Expands

Ten years ago the term "cause marketing" was unusual. Now, says Ted Deutsch, right, founder of the Deutsch Communications Group, cause marketing is a more accepted part of the marketing mix. "Major companies now recognize they have to have formal corporate responsibility programs, not only because investors are demanding it more, but because it is increasingly important to do business in other parts of the world."

Deutsch says his master’s in international affairs at Georgetown University exposed him to the area of corporate responsibility, how corporations and nonprofits work together on partnership programs that benefit both, as opposed to just straight philanthropy.

Deutsch moved his office from Patton Avenue to 20 Nassau Street, Suite 119, in August. He shares space with Santa Fe-based CommodiCast Inc., an advanced analytics company for the healthcare and financial services industries.

The son of a school teacher and a financial consultant, Deutsch is a Princeton graduate, Class of 1991, as is his wife, Jessica, who has a master’s in education. They have two school-aged children. Deutsch has worked for a public affairs consulting firm, Apco Worldwide, and was vice president of communications for Avis Rent A Car.

Last year he founded the firm to offer cause marketing planning, public relations, speechwriting, event marketing, editorial support, grant writing, and program development. His clients include Points of Light Foundation, Cendant Corporation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Business Civic Leadership Center.

An example of cause marketing: the relationship that Avis has with the Make a Wish Foundation. "Make a Wish has a great brand of itself, and we put together a program with Avis as national sponsor to move families and children to the places where wishes can come true," says Deutsch. Avis contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind rental and ran co-promotions with the foundation. Avis employees volunteered their time. "It is not a coincidence that I am starting to work with Make A Wish New Jersey," says Deutsch.

For the Points of Light Foundation, which aims to promote volunteering at every level, he does speech writing, scripting, and articles promoting next July’s convention in Philadelphia.

"We are eager to add other New Jersey nonprofits and companies, especially mid size companies," says Deutsch. "The biggest companies understand that cause marketing is a necessity."

– Barbara Fox

Deutsch Communications Group LLC, 20 Nassau Street, Suite 119, Princeton 08542; 609-924-7490; fax, 609-924-7491. Ted Deutsch, founder.

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