MARC USA Creates Strategic Alliance With Carnegie Mellon University

Jun 05, 2013, 10:26 ET from MARC USA

PITTSBURGH, June 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Leveraging the innovation and thought leadership of its native city, leading marketing services company MARC USA is announcing the formation of a long-term strategic alliance with Carnegie Mellon University.

The alliance is taking ideas from the "lab" and infusing them into real business solutions for clients. The relationship has already led to several ground breaking innovations, including artificial intelligence solutions at retail and extensive technology-enriched shopper marketing programs for MARC USA clients.

As one of the world's leading research universities, Carnegie Mellon's expertise in computer science, data mining and behavioral economics is a natural fit for the company, explained MARC USA President and CEO Michele Fabrizi.

"Great ideas are the currency of our business today, and our alliance with Carnegie Mellon University provides MARC USA with the ability to create new ways for our clients to grow revenue and enhance consumer relationships," Fabrizi said. "We put innovation at the center of what we do.  This relationship allows MARC USA to demonstrate value and differentiation."

The alliance has led to an increased focus on the use of behavioral economics in
MARC USA's strategic approach.  This involves tapping into key human motivators and developing communication strategies to activate them. For example, the agency activated the principle of "social proof" in a mammography awareness campaign for Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL, that stimulated dialogue and encouraged women to remind each other to make appointments through a custom Facebook tab and the ability to send a "mammo-gram" reminder email.  The response was dramatic with the volume of mammogram bookings exceeding capacity in the target period.

Another area of joint effort is data mining and analytics, a key factor in developing segmentation strategies for customized marketing approaches. Professor Jeff Schneider, Associate Research Professor at CMU's Robotics Institute, has served as a consultant to the agency on data mining and CRM projects to help a major retail client define the best customer using past purchase information and behavior. Analyzing literally billions of data points, the researchers were able to identify six key characteristics that defined 50 percent of the retailer's best customers.  These findings then became the foundation of a sophisticated marketing plan designed to convert non-customers who fit the same profile.

In other instances, the agency and the university are collaborating on increasing the appeal of products and services and even the creation of new products. This has included work with Professors Peter Boatwright and Jonathan Cagan to identify emotional drivers to purchase.

"For Carnegie Mellon, working hand-in-hand with one of Pittsburgh's great companies gives our professors and students experience that can't be replicated in a classroom," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon.  "MARC USA has been a terrific partner, and it is exciting to see how the work of our faculty and students translates into marketplace success for MARC and its clients."

MARC USA clients that have already benefitted from the alliance in addition to the Carle Foundation hospital include Rite Aid Corporation, Cooper Tires and Dick's Sporting Goods.

About MARC USA: MARC USA ( is a national full-service integrated marketing communications firm known for creating game-changing business solutions through big ideas, insight and the creative application of new technology. With offices in Chicago, Miami and Pittsburgh, 200 employees and more than $320 million in annual billings, it is one of the largest independent agencies in the country. Services include advertising, strategic planning, research, public relations, social marketing, media planning and buying, interactive marketing, direct and customer relationship marketing and sales promotion. 

About Carnegie Mellon University: Carnegie Mellon ( is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 12,000 students in the university's seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A global university, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Pittsburgh, Pa., California's Silicon Valley and Qatar, and programs in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Mexico. The university has exceeded its $1 billion campaign, titled "Inspire Innovation: The Campaign for Carnegie Mellon University," which aims to build its endowment, support faculty, students and innovative research, and enhance the physical campus with equipment and facility improvements. The campaign closes June 30, 2013.