RedPeg Marketing

727 North Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314-1924
Telephone: (703) 519-9000
Fax: (703) 519-9290
Web site:

Private Company
Founded: 1995
Employees: 65
Gross Billings: $20 million (2004 est.)
NAIC: 541810 Advertising Agencies

RedPeg Marketing, formerly Momentum Marketing Services Corporation, is an award-winning promotional marketing agency specializing in event and experiential marketing. RedPeg's focus is finding ways to put products in the hands of consumers through special events and promotions, to try to create an "emotional connection" between strategically targeted consumers and a brand or product. Creating engaging "brand experiences" that touch people on a personal level is what RedPeg does best. The full-service agency is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, with satellite offices in Westport, Connecticut, and Charlotte, North Carolina. RedPeg's events, however, take place all over the country.

Though the agency is relatively young in the industry, RedPeg's clients have included such large corporations as General Mills, America Online, USAir, Geico, General Electric, Miller Brewing, and the Mexican Bureau of Tourism. The company has achieved national exposure through recognition in Inc . and Fortune Small Business magazines, as well as numerous performance awards within the promotions industry. The company's ranking in Promo magazine's annual top 100 agencies has risen steadily to 23rd place in 2005.

1995: Momentum Marketing Services Born in D.C.

After working for a number of promotional marketing companies, Brad Nierenberg decided he was ready create a business of his own. In 1995 he founded Momentum Marketing Services Corporation in Washington, D.C., along with colleague Brad Beckstrom. Both had experience in promotional marketing. Their first client was Heineken USA.

Early on, Momentum established a reputation for cutting-edge, outside-the-box creative thinking for its clients. Before digital photo technology was well known, the firm used it in a Heineken promotional campaign. In a variety of locations, field representatives took digital photos of potential consumers, then put them in their hands along with information about the product. It got people's attention in part because digital photography was still a novelty to the general public.

Momentum's founders believed that traditional advertising and marketing methodologies were not enough in a market saturated by constant media messages. They set out to create relevant events and experiences, often newsworthy, to capture the attention of specifically targeted consumers. Their campaigns often required hiring and thoroughly training a large number of temporary employees as field representatives. Other corporate clients early on were Dunkin' Donuts, Allied Domecq, United Airlines, and Nestlé Waters. Regardless of who the client was, Momentum Marketing was all about finding the right person to represent the brand that was being promoted. The company was careful to find people with enthusiasm and energy to represent the brand, and then train them more thoroughly than the other shops did.

1996: Using Technology in Promotions and Events

The company also continued to recognize the value of using the latest technology as a part of its promotions. For example, Momentum's field representatives used Palm-based data capture systems, and in response to client feedback designed online portals so people in the field could log on and enter survey information.

Momentum quickly gained a reputation in the industry for hiring and training top notch people, creating mobile marketing tours, being experts at "activation and execution" of a well-designed plan. It arranged for full orchestras to perform in five different business markets on the same day to promote United Airlines' new advertising campaign and encourage consumers to register for United's frequent flier program. Momentum's field staff promoted Perrier and Amstel Light beverages on beaches all over the country, and pushed Dove products in shopping malls. They even put several costumed, muscular Tarzans on the streets of Washington, D.C., handing out T-shirts, coffee, and sweepstakes chances.

Though "products" were often a key part of a promotional plan, Momentum's "experiential" campaigns involved much more than handing out product samples. Nierenberg explained to Promo that experiential marketing "gives companies a venue to communicate with customers through a variety of layers. One of the keys to a successful campaign is giving customers a chance to experience a product through the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing."

Late 1990s: Collaboration, Creativity, Interaction

Momentum also collaborated with another large agency to implement a highly successful "Towel Amnesty Day" for Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts. Customers who returned towels that they had previously "borrowed," received as a gift a limited edition Holiday Inn embossed towel and the company made a financial donation to charity on their behalf. The chain not only gave away 60,000 of the towels, but Holiday Inn connected and reconnected with customers in a fun and memorable way, enhancing their corporate image as well as consumer loyalty.

The agency became known for executing creative, interactive, face-to-face marketing for clients. For the Dunkin' Donuts chain, Momentum staff covered large vans with Dunkin' Donuts logos and pictures of products—hot beverages in the fall and winter, and cold beverages in spring and summer. Momentum field staff talked with targeted consumers (parents 35 to 49 years of age) and served them hot lattes during cold months and coolattas and iced lattes in the warm months. The Dunkin' campaign lasted from March through December and included visits to shelters and charity events where specialty beverages and bakery items were distributed.

By the late 1990s, Momentum had attracted the attention of larger agencies with which it was competing for clients. According to the corporate web site, Momentum Marketing's services included "Lifestyle marketing, Event and Tour management, Creative services and production, and Integrated promotional technology."

2001: PRO Award Bringing Recognition

In 2001 Momentum received its first big industry recognition when Promo gave the company a top PRO Award for its "Tossed and Found" promotion for GE's financial division. The campaign entailed having trained field representatives drop 10,000 wallets in financial districts of big cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, then reacting and following up with consumers who retrieved the wallets. Winners were directed to a web site where two lucky consumers won $100,000 each. The campaign was successful and gained the company media coverage in the process.

The agency's net revenue grew steadily, reaching $2.3 million in 2001. To accommodate company growth, Momentum moved from Washington, D.C., to a larger facility in nearby Alexandria, Virginia's Old Town area. At that time Momentum had 40 employees. The move gave the company 3,000 more square feet and allowed space for future growth in staff.

2002: Rapid Growth Grabbing Headlines

The company's growth got noticed, even outside the advertising and marketing industries. Momentum was cited in the Inc . 500 in 2002. Inc. magazine profiled 500 of the country's fastest growing private companies. According to Momentum's web site, "Qualifying companies must display 'unbelievable revenue growth' as well as pass an intensive interview process about company structure, policies and overall best practices." Momentum made the prestigious Inc . listing two years in a row.

In 2003 Momentum made Promo magazine's Top 100 list. For 2002, net revenues were up 6.9 percent to $3.1 million. According to Promo , the agency "generated more than 2.6 million web site hits and interacted with over 175,000 consumers around the country with the 6th annual Amstel Light Beach Patrol." At that time Momentum's clients included Heineken USA, Seagram Americas, Ryan Partnership, General Mills, and Nestlé Waters.

The year 2003 was a successful one for the agency, which achieved net revenue of $4.3 million and sales or billings of $10 million. At the end of the year, Nierenberg walked in to the office with a briefcase full of cash and proceeded to give every employee a $1,000 bill as a surprise end of the year bonus. It was a reward for surpassing its sales goal. By 2004 Momentum had grown to 48 permanent employees and hundreds of temporary staff working as field reps.

2004: One of Best Bosses

In October 2004, Momentum founder Brad Nierenberg was selected by Fortune Small Business magazine as one of the 15 "Best Bosses" in the country. Nierenberg was lauded for creating and maintaining a strong employee focus and for the company's thorough training programs for permanent and temporary employees. Each permanent employee benefited from regular internal training courses and a $500 allocation for their own education. Even temporary employees were flown in to the home office from all over the country for a weeklong training program.

Rewarding and affirming employees for their work had long been a pattern at the agency. Since the firm opened, Nierenberg and partner Beckstrom had a philosophy of empowering, motivating, and listening to their talented cadre of employees. They also recognized and rewarded employees' contributions to the success of the agency. In addition to the $1,000 bonuses, incentive trips to places such as Cancun or Jamaica were awarded.

Company Perspectives:

RedPeg Marketing, a Momentum Marketing Services Company, is a cutting-edge promotional marketing powerhouse composed of individuals who bring a variety of experiences to the table. We create extraordinary brand experiences that touch people on a personal level, delivering incredible impact, powerful influence, and lasting results!

An example of the agency founder's focus on employees was noted in the online publication Winning Workplaces. "When the company decided to move to new office space, [Nierenberg] not only took recommendations for locations, he sat down with a list of his employees' addresses and mapped out where everyone lived to help find a building that was closest to the most people." In the new Alexandria office, there were no cubicles. Each employee got to choose the paint and furnishings for his or her office. Winning Workplaces described the unusual work environment at Momentum Marketing this way: "it's the casual culture (including office dogs, a retractable garage door conference room, and a Heineken phone booth) that make it fun to come to work." Not surprisingly, the agency's employee turnover was low. Most new hires get their foot in the door through in-house staff referrals.

2005: Renaming and Rebranding

In early 2005, Momentum Marketing Services announced that it was officially changing its name to RedPeg Marketing. Another, larger advertising agency, Momentum Worldwide, had acquired an event company a few years earlier, which had resulted in confusion because both agencies were doing similar kinds of work. Momentum Marketing did not always get credit for work it had done. Those in the field called them Big Mo and Little Mo. In addition, some 20 other agencies had "Momentum" somewhere in their names. Nierenberg explained one reason for the new company name to industry publication Promo Magazine , "When you have to go into a pitch and explain that you're not that other agency, it's a bad place to start."

The name change was not only about renaming, but also rebranding. It was the result of two years of research, evaluation, design, and planning, and sifting through 300 proposed names and 100 logos. The name "RedPeg" refers to the red pegs used in the game "Battleship" when a player directly hits the opponent's ship. The new logo resembled those red pegs. "It stands for strategy, precision and impact," Nierenberg explained. "To hit the right consumer in the right place with the right interaction or message? That's a direct hit," Nierenberg told Promo.

RedPeg received additional industry recognition in early 2005 when Event Marketer gave it "Ex Awards" for two promotional campaigns. The company received a gold award in the category of Best Activation of an Entertainment Sponsorship for the Rock Boat campaign for Miller Brewing Company. RedPeg was a silver winner in the category of Best Multi-Venue/Market Event for a Local Market Activation campaign for America Online.

The agency also moved up to number 23 on Promo 's list of the top agencies from 2002 to 2004. RedPeg's net revenues increased 151 percent, to $7.7 million, mostly due to work for current clients including AOL, Ryan Partnership, Kobrand, and Bacardi. New clients in 2004 included Miller Brewing Company and Geico.

2005 and Beyond

RedPeg's leaders recognized that its original formula of hand-to-hand promotional experiences created awareness while also being entertaining and fun. Competition in the event marketing arena was increasing as traditional advertising agencies realized that they were missing out on event and promotional planning. RedPeg had been a pioneer in "Emotional Touch Point Marketing," making brands personal and placing companies and their products in the "hands, heads and hearts" of targeted consumers.

RedPeg Marketing had been on a steady growth curve since its inception. As of 2005, about 75 percent of the agency's business was event marketing. The company expected growth to continue, and planned to open offices in Los Angeles and Chicago, bringing staff size to 70 or more. In 2004, RedPeg's billings reached $20 million. The company's goal was to see that figure reach $50 million by 2010.

Principal Competitors

GMR Marketing; Pierce Promotions; Einson Freeman, Inc.; Modeme Promotions, Inc.; The Promotions Dept.

Key Dates:

Brad Nierenberg and Brad Beckstrom create Momentum Marketing Services Corporation.
Momentum receives Promo magazine's Top PRO Award for Best Overall Campaign.
Momentum is ranked among Inc. magazine's list of the fastest growing companies.
Momentum shifts headquarters to Alexandria, Virginia.
Nierenberg is cited by Fortune Small Business as one of the 15 "Best Bosses" in the country.
Momentum is renamed RedPeg Marketing.

Further Reading

"Anatomy of a Promo: The Art of the Drip; Momentum Marketing Really Knows How to Lose a Wallet," Promo Magazine , , February 1, 2002.

De Marco, Donna, "Name Change Defines RedPeg," Washington Times: Business , February 14, 2005.

"In Depth: Advertising and Marketing," Washington Business Journal , May 6, 2005.

Johannes, Amy, "Live from PROMO EXPO: Lasting Connections Through Experiential Marketing," Promo Magazine , , November 17, 2004.

Lohr, Greg, "Momentum Motors into Alexandria," Washington Business Journal , April 4, 2003.

"Momentum Marketing Services Corp.; Empowerment and Shared Success Bolster Business and Employee Satisfaction," Winning Workplaces , .

Parry, Tim, "Road Trip," Promo Magazine , , August 1, 2004.

Spethmann, Betsy, "Agency Aliases," Promo Magazine , , February 1, 2005.

Spragins, Ellyn, "The Acting Coach: Brad Nierenberg, Momentum Marketing Services, Alexandria, Va.," Fortune Small Business , October 1, 2004, p. 40.

"Top 25 Agencies," Promo Magazine , , June 1, 2005.

Watson, Ashley, Ithaca College Alumni Magazine , April 26, 2005.

—Mary Heer-Forsberg

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