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Small firm finds big success selling its clients creatively

| Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, 10:26 p.m.
Dan Droz, head of the award-winning marketing/PR firm, Droz and Associates holds a basket of awards that clients have won for his PR and Marketing agency's work, Thursday, December 27, 2012. Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review

Many local companies face formidable competitors. Some are trying to crack new markets. Nearly all want to meet such goals on a budget these days.

That's where marketing and advertising firm Droz and Associates comes in. Its marketing success stories in 2012 resulted in the Bloomfield boutique firm snaring seven of 10 Marketer of the Year awards from the American Marketing Association, Pittsburgh chapter, on Dec. 7 — an unheard-of feat.

“I've never seen those kinds of award results in the six years we've done this competition,” said Bruce Downing, a director of the local marketing trade group. No firm had won more than two awards in past years.

“You have to take your hat off to Dan Droz and their work. They've done a wonderful job,” said Downing, general manager of Odato Marketing Group Inc., Imperial. He noted the marketing contest drew more competing entries than ever in 2012.

“Marketing is about solving problems, as opposed to just designing a logo,” said Droz, founder and president of the ad firm, during an interview in its modest headquarters in Bloomfield.

The problem confronting Droz client CleanCare Systems in Lawrenceville was how a Pittsburgh company could penetrate the Cleveland market with its industrial laundry services. The challenge arose after the company acquired accounts from another company in 2010.

Droz's response was to leverage CleanCare's most visible face: its fleet of 27 trucks. As CleanCare's business is to wash, dry, press and deliver linen to restaurants and medical facilities, Droz applied new designs to its trucks. One side showed a chef using fresh linen, and the other side showed a doctor and a nurse with linen.

“That created a sales dialogue and helped us get a relationship with the Cleveland market, even with the sports rivalry with Pittsburgh,” said Robert Friedman, director of sales for CleanCare Systems.

“I'd also have to say it was very inexpensive, compared to other campaigns,” said Friedman. “It was less than $15,000.”

Dan Droz's background is not that of your typical Madison Avenue man.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Droz became a union card-carrying magician at 14, graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1972 with a double major, and that year joined his Pittsburgh family business of designing and making wooden railings for homes, including for NVR-Ryan Homes.

“Most people who get into the ad world enter from the creative end, as ad copy writers,” Droz said. “Then they hit the business world and realize they need to be responsive to businesses.”

Droz's firm also won the marketing association's 2012 “Grand Marketer of the Year” award. The lion's share of the judging criteria — 40 percent — is on tangible results the marketing campaign produced.

For Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, a nonprofit group that sponsors a book writers' lecture series in Oakland, the issue since 2008 had been flagging subscriptions and revenue, said Jayne Adair, executive director.

With a mind toward its client's budget constraints, Droz created a series of eye-catching posters. The firm posted them on plywood construction barriers where a bagel shop was going up at Forbes Avenue and Craig Street, a high-visibility intersection just blocks from the lecture hall.

“There were wildly clever designs that attracted your attention, not only to (each author) but to the series as well,” said Adair, adding that the bill came to just $1,000.

Client ProGrass LLC's challenge was to raise its visibility in the synthetic turf business, a field that includes the formidable AstroTurf LLC — “which is like competing with Kleenex,” Droz said.

The ad firm created Rocky the rhino, a mascot for the brand based around ProGrass founder/owner Kent Rockwell. Launched in February, Rocky began showing up at football games and photo shoots with children.

“Droz and Associates brought Rocky to life and brought our brand to a new level in the industry,” said Bob Thomas, president of ProGrass, Downtown.

“Our number of bids on jobs went up to more than we'd seen in past years,” he said. “We even had people contacting us, whereas in the past, we had to dig to find leads.”

Thomas Olson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7854 or

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