Power packaging: Fort Worth ad agency builds a better brand

Betty Dillard bdillard@bizpress.net Lindsey Hurr asks a lot of whys. As vice president of Immotion Studios, an award-winning national brand development and advertising agency based in Fort Worth, she’s more interested in why a business does what it does instead of what it does. “Why does a business start up and why does it stay in business?” she asked. “When we know the why, then we ask ‘how can we help?’ We translate why into a brand.” Hurr knows more than a few things about the hows and whys of brands. She’s one of only a handful of certified brand strategists in the United States and the only one in Texas. Hurr completed advanced coursework through the Brand Establishment, a leading national network of small- to mid-sized ad and PR/marketing agencies, leading to the mastery of brand development. Since graduating in 1998 with a marketing degree from Texas Christian University (where her daughter has followed in her footsteps as a cheerleader), Hurr has helped clients find their why, develop their brands and integrate marketing plans that are consistent with their brand strategy and positioning. Combining strategy with creativity, Hurr and her team produce awareness and profits for clients.

“My passion is more on the brand architecture and brand development side,” Hurr said. “It’s about growing a brand and growing its value. That’s who we are.” Immotion began in 1995 as the creative department of Marketing Management Inc. (or MMI, hence IMMotion), a business founded in 1966 by the late Herb Pease Sr. and still owned and operated by the Pease family. Herb Pease Jr. is MMI’s chief executive officer. MMI provides private-label services to the food and retail industries, including retail marketing and merchandising, brand development, consumer research, quality assurance testing, consumer response, inventory management, advertising and package design. Immotion Studios is a wholly owned subsidiary of MMI, as is Consumer Science, a research and quality assurance laboratory. Customized research products include advertising effectiveness, brand insight assessment, customer satisfaction studies, packaging benchmark, promotion effectiveness and price sensitivity analysis. Hurr says one of Immotion Studios’ competitive advantages is its sister agency Consumer Science. “They can validate and then we create. We can do an analysis on our efforts to see if we did our job,” Hurr said. “I think because we have that in-house we are unique. A lot of other agencies don’t have that. Because an outside group tests a brand, we can focus on if we’re meeting the clients’ needs and the consumers’ needs. It helps bring more to our profit.” Another factor adding to Immotion’s competitive edge, Hurr says, is having all three companies under one roof. Randy Hurr, Lindsey’s husband and an attorney, houses his Hurr Law Office in the same building. Randy also is MMI’s president. The company has seven vice presidents on its management team.

“It’s handy because after we design a brand, Randy can help a client on the trademark side of things and help protect the brand. It’s handy to have everything in the same building,” Lindsey Hurr said. “Because we don’t outsource and have so many services in-house, we can save the client money.” Since its inception, Immotion primarily has focused on creating packaging graphics for the retail industry. In-house capabilities include photography, technical and product illustrations for brochures and catalogs, and video production. Eighty percent of Immotion’s business is national brands in the grocery and consumer packaged goods industries. Major grocery clients are AWG, SpartanNash and Family Dollar. In the last three to five years, the company began expanding its presence in the local market. In August 2013, Immotion opened a public relations/social media department to better serve its clients and to increase its own brand awareness in the local market. Area clients onboard include Bass Performance Hall, Fort Worth Opera, Performing Arts Fort Worth, Dallas Summer Musicals, Dallas Symphony, Renfro Foods, Shoot Smart and Alpha & Omega Mounted Security Patrol. “A lot of our growth still comes from the grocery and [consumer packaged goods] side of the business, but we’re seeing a lot of success in broadening to serve the local community,” Hurr said. “I don’t know how this happened but we went from groceries to the arts. They’re happy we’re not totally in grocery now and we’re happy, too. It’s been a breath of fresh air. It’s been so refreshing.” The payoff has been big for both the agency and its clients. The arts and nonprofit organizations that Immotion serves have seen a noticeable jump in visibility and in donations.

For the past few years, Immotion Studios has been creating videos for Samaritan House, a Fort Worth nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a safe community and life-changing opportunities for homeless individuals and persons living with HIV/AIDS and other special needs. “The videos have touched the lives of so many in our community.” said Christie Mosley-Eckler, Samaritan’s director of development. “They are personable and genuine in a way that conveys our residents’ struggles, as well as successes, and moves people to support Samaritan House.” Holland Sanders, director of marketing and communications at the Fort Worth Opera, says a public relations partnership with Immotion has allowed her organization to increase its visibility in North Texas through the use of television interviews. “Immotion is a terrific company with a strong leader at the helm,” Sanders said. “Lindsey has been a wonderful collaborative partner during our two-year relationship. Their expertise in the medium of television has been integral to the success of our broadcast-focused public relations effort. It pays to work with a partner who specializes in such a complex advertising medium.” Immotion’s latest growth plan, aside from expanding the team to the current 22 strategists and creatives with room to add more, is helping small to medium-size companies build their own brand. The agency will begin offering in-house do-it-yourself brand workshops this summer. Attendees will learn about brand development and trademarks and how to add a PR and social element to their business. “One of our biggest challenges is helping people understand what brand development is,” Hurr said. “A brand is so much more than just a logo.”