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RMG:Connect was the name of the global CRM network which sat for several years under the umbrella of JWT, working mainly for that network's existing clients. It was previously known in some markets as Thompson Connect. The business was absorbed into the main JWT structure at the end of 2009. In fact, RMG Connect never quite managed to establish a presence as a global network along the same lines as rivals Proximity or OgilvyOne. At its peak, though, the network covered 21 countries in North America, the EMEA region, Asia, Australia and Latin America, offering a fully integrated range of services including direct marketing, interactive, data management and sales promotion. Advertising Age estimated global revenues of $153m in 2008, including $59m in the US. Only one outpost remains, in Germany, still under the RMG Connect name.
The business was originally created in 1999 from a series of separate mergers and realignments of local offices. This process began when JWT US's in-house direct marketing division JWT Direct absorbed independently branded agencies Enterprise and Dialog to form a new unit, which was renamed Thompson Connect. A series of further international offices were established over the following years as the agency either acquired new businesses or rebranded existing operations. In 1999, for example, JWT Consumer and BFA in Germany merged under the Thompson Connect brand. Subsequent acquisitions included Herald Group in Italy in 2000, Copyright in Brazil and UK direct marketer Black Cat in 2001, and a controlling stake in Germany's MDM Mungenast Dialog Marketing in 2002. That year the RMG brand entered the fold as a result of the merger of Thompson Connect in Europe with rival Relationship Marketing Group (or RMG), part-owned by Ogilvy. The resulting group adopted the name RMG:Connect.
Finally the brand was extended to the US at the end of 2004. Previously, JWT had operated two separate below-the-line networks in North America. Thompson Connect was responsible for mainstream direct marketing while Connect@JWT was a specialist in interactive. That unit was itself a reinvention of what was originally JWT Digital, formed in 1998, and later rebranded as Digital@JWT in 2002. Connect@JWT and ThompsonConnect were merged and rebranded as RMG: Connect from January 2005. In 2006, the merger of RMG UK with rival direct marketing agency Sharpen Troughton Owens Response, also owned by WPP, led to chaos when both the UK and European heads of RMG quit the group.
Over the next couple of years, JWT attempted to exert stronger control over the business. Another distraction was the fact that some of RMG's European offices were part-owned by sister WPP agencies OgilvyOne and Wunderman. JWT bought out Ogilvy's 39% holding and Wunderman's 10% stake in 2008, and later gave responsibility for the business to David Eastman, who was appointed as worldwide digital director of JWT in 2009. RMG Connect's worldwide CEO Philip Greenfield and North American CEO Mark Miller left soon afterwards, followed by UK head Tim Hipperson. That prompted the decision to absorb the business entirely into the main JWT network from July 2009.
Last full revision 28th September 2016
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