A Closer Look: FCB/RED + Chute Gerdeman

A Closer Look: FCB/RED + Chute Gerdeman

A Closer Look: FCB/RED + Chute Gerdeman 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

In August, FCB Chicago took a leap forward in building its business offering with the acquisition of Chute Gerdeman. FCB/RED will now align its award-winning retail and shopper marketing division, with Chute Gerdeman’s premier environmental design services to deliver full omnichannel, retail marketing and connected physical branded experiences. For a closer look at both sides of the acquisition we sat down with Chute Gerdeman’s CEO, Brian Shafley and FCB/RED’s President, Tina Manikas.

FCB/RED + CG Announcement

Given CG’s full and varied client roster, both in the US and abroad, how will this acquisition enable you to better support the services and needs of these clients?

Chute Gerdeman contributes specialized capability on the physical side of retail experience and real depth with diverse client base. FCB/RED’s core is deeply understanding the customer at every touchpoint along the path to purchase and the deployment of sophisticated shopper marketing analytics and creative. Together, we form a compelling combination of real and relevant benefits to our existing and future clients.

Chute Gerdeman’s core brand pillars of passion, purpose, and partnership have driven the company for years. How did those pillars play into the decision to move forward with an acquisition?

We were only open to a partnership with a company that shared these same values. Through the lens of collaborating with FCB/RED in real time for the past few years, we witnessed how they approached their business, their team members, clients and partners alike, we just knew it would be the right fit for us. Like us, they are a principled agency and I strongly believe in the high standards of our unified team.

Many of the core leadership team have been with the company for much of its 29 year history. What can we expect in terms of leadership changes?

We do not foresee any leadership changes; however, we are positioned for growth both at the corporate level and for each individual team member, as well. With the acquisition now in place, we can now visualize how our management structure may evolve to position optimal resources and fully exploit the new market opportunities in front of us.

Over the years, Chute Gerdeman has had some longstanding client accounts creating a spectrum of amazing work. What kind of opportunities do you think this creates to extend new services to legacy clients?

Our existing clients – and the entire consumer economy – are navigating a very dynamic and uncertain time. The spectre of offering new and essential capabilities to legacy clients is something we find very exciting. It motivates us to reintroduce Chute Gerdeman in a powerful new context but one built on a foundation of past success and mutual trust. The new opportunities together will center on creating deeper customer engagements with the brands they love and providing a more seamless integration of emerging digital, analytic, and creative tools to drive brands forward faster.

Beyond the growth opportunities for the two companies, do you envision growing your staff in their personal career goals? How do you think the collaboration with additional disciplines and expertise will inspire, educate, and empower your staff?

We have developed an amazing staff of professionals who love their job but are even more committed to improving their lives, and those of others, outside of work. It is because of this that they all bring something unique to any endeavor. With the newly expanded network of individuals as part of FCB/RED, our team has fully embraced this unique opportunity to position themselves as open and confident individuals within a positive and lively new community of diversity and personal growth.

What are some of the ways in which Chute Gerdeman’s culture aligns with FCB/RED? And what are some ways both organizations may benefit from potential differences?

We believe the physical space is the most comprehensive, immersive, and tangible expression of a brand. But in today’s shopping marketplace, humans are bringing an entirely new set of perceptions to their chosen shopping ventures. That decision is increasingly driven by new pre-purchase influences, which is a key area in which FCB/RED excels. And post-purchase behavior by customers are becoming critically vital to understand. This combined Chute Gerdeman – FCB/RED expertise will allow us to design, build, and test unified retail experiences at a level never before possible.

FCB/RED + CG Announcement
FCB/RED + CG Announcement

The industry is undeniably full of talented design agencies. What is it about Chute Gerdeman that appealed to FCB/RED?

Three things made them stand out. People, Scale, and Creativity at the core. I was truly impressed with the leadership team and talented teams inside- they are a true cultural fit with FCB/RED in terms of what matters most. Their range and scale of capability trumps other competitors. They have deep expertise across diverse retail industries, diverse solutions from premium to mass to aisle, and ability to scale and fully implement. Lastly, like us insight-based, award-winning creativity is at their core.

FCB/RED and Chute Gerdeman first teamed up in 2016 on a successful business opportunity. How was the relationship working together and did it lead to this logical transition?

Our partnership actually goes back much further. But this most recent partnership on a major client was a true proof of concept that we can work as one and complement each other to create a true end-to-end brand experience that changes shopper behavior. It made so much sense to come together in a deeper way to help all clients.

As part of one of the most respected advertising agencies in the world, and the oldest Chicago agency, how do you stay a step ahead of the industry, and how might the acquisition of Chute Gerdeman further foster that?

We see ourselves as the oldest and newest agency. We can create full on branded experiences within any need­– physical, digital and brand. The consumer today can become a shopper at any moment. As a top agency, we stay ahead by being restless and always obsessing about the next 5-10 years. We see the ever-changing role of retail and clients increasing desire to be relevant, nimble and holistic in their planning. We now have all capabilities inside – with Chute Gerdeman, we can create full-on branded experiences for any retail need and do together create physical, digital, and full path to purchase brand solutions.

Often with an acquisition comes a change of the company name. What benefits do you see in maintaining the Chute Gerdeman identity?

Chute Gerdeman is a valued and noted brand. There is equity in the brand and it signals the great work and talent the industry has come to expect. Over time, we may together evolve but for now we care about what the Chute Gerdeman name represents.

What are some of the ways in which Chute Gerdeman’s culture aligns with FCB/RED? And what are some ways both organizations may benefit from potential differences?

We love to celebrate the differences. FCB brings an expansive global network. We are in the business of theater, showcasing what we do, how we do it, and continue to grow together and illustrate our distinct POV.  Greatness comes from the tension of two point of views coming together. In its simplest form, we align on both doing great work and doing the right thing. Similar traits include being brave, collaborative, entrepreneurial, and accountable. Some of the benefits will come from putting people together from diverse backgrounds and capabilities. Organizations benefit from change and sharing ideas and talent. Our capabilities are different and complementary, but we speak the same language. It’s now a complete holistic offering and a tremendous growth opportunity for all. We also bring an extensive global North America network that will provide new opportunities for our teams working together.

Beyond the growth opportunities for the two companies, do you envision growing your staff in their personal career goals? How do you think the collaboration with additional disciplines and expertise will inspire, educate, and empower your staff?

People want to be challenged and learn everyday – regardless of level. This coming together allows us to bring in new clients, bring new thinking to existing clients and this can only happen through helping our teams work together.

These new clients are going to force us to really figure out where our strengths and possible future process will end up. I think in this instance it’s not crazy bringing us together. It will allow us to be 100% transparent with each other, there are no barriers between our two companies.


Better Together

What do you think you have most to learn from your partnership?

Tina: The power of what the physical branded experience can create, craftsmanship, insight and strategy goes into creating something that stands the test of time. The planning and craftsmanship process that goes into creating a long-lasting ever-engaging area will be interesting to see. Both creative teams work differently than each other, and to learn what the process will look like once we uncover those capabilities will truly create a multi-sensory experience for all clients.  

Brand bedrock: what we do to come up with the brand position and essence, has more permanence and becomes the core of a brand. The best branded experience becomes permanent assets of the brand.

Brian: There’s more of a sense of brand permanence, it’s super relevant and focused on the tangible experiences related to a brand. I feel like we are trained to focus on that physical experience, and we try our best to figure out what the brand bedrock is. We have to figure out how to get into the clients’ and customer’s heads. I’m excited to see the value in understanding the customer in a different way, thinking about the consumer outside of the store and uncovering the data and research that goes behind making a purchase. When we talk about end-to-end relationship, you guys have a much richer process and ability to understand the consumer, and that’s what I am eager to learn.

In this changing world of retail, we have recognized that brands must evolve how they connect to their shoppers. This partnership will allow both FCB/RED and Chute Gerdeman to more effectively and proactively engage and solve the challenges of retail. Learn more about this bold step into the future.

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