By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
AAS, Inc., a 30-year-old company that has specialized in managing co-op advertising programs, has diversified its services and is interested in getting more involved with electronics/appliance retailers and distributors.
The company, based here, provides Web-based marketing tools such as digital asset management, online ad creative templates, turnkey media fulfillment, as well as co-op program management.
According to president Arthur Fiordaliso, AAS serves Fortune 500 companies in four industries. “What we call 'high tech' would include Hewlett-Packard, Sun, Microsoft, Novell and others,” he said. The three other major industries AAS is involved with are: automotive, where DaimlerChrysler, Audi and Volkswagen are customers; wireless, with Nextel as a customer; and packaged goods, with clients such as 3M and Curad.
“We have specialized in co-op advertising — basically checking to see if retailers are meeting manufacturers' advertising guidelines,” Fiordaliso said. “We check the 'proof of performance,' the clips from local papers that are submitted to us.” If the retailers' ads meet the guidelines, they get paid. If they don't, they won't. But it doesn't end there, he stressed.
“If there is a mistake, we will consult with dealers, tell them what they did wrong and explain what they have to do to get paid. If there is a first-time problem, they'll get paid,” he noted. Guidelines would include what products to advertise, what features to promote in the ad, retail pricing and the like.
The move to online ad creation has eliminated many of the problems of past years when retailers had books in their offices of ad slicks from manufacturers — many of them outdated, which created mistakes. By providing manufacturers with Web sites that AAS runs, retailers are given access to an “ad maker” with templates that are password protected. “Dealers can customize their ads, but the benefit is that the manufacturer's brand identification is getting across,” Fiordaliso said.
In addition, this system can enable manufacturers to “turn on a dime” if they want to begin a new merchandising campaign, or change products or features to be emphasized in ads or direct mail pieces. “We load the creative, send e-mails with a link, the dealer clicks the link and that's all there is to it,” he added.
AAS is no stranger to the major appliance business, with GE and Whirlpool as customers, Fiordaliso said, indicating that he sees helping retailers in this market as a growth area for his company. “There are thousands of retailers in major appliances who could be interested in our approach and who we could help advertise more effectively.”
He added, “We help retailers place ads in newspapers, radio and TV, and do direct mail pieces with our varied mailing lists. AAS becomes a media buying center for them.”
For instance, AAS has worked with True Value hardware stores, with 1,500 or so individual store owners that buy together. The company has assisted True Value with its co-op ad efforts and marketing.
On the PC and CE side, Ingram Micro is also an AAS customer. The company developed with the distributor the Agency Express program, a suite of online marketing services and resources targeted exclusively at solution provider partners. “Ingram Micro describes the program as an 'ad agency on a desktop' where retailers can keep track of new products and promotions, and design ads, direct mail pieces, brochures and postcards,” Fiordaliso said.
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