WDFA Marketing: Taking It to the Street

Sheila Shayon on September 2010

WDFA Marketing was recently ranked #5 on INC magazine’s 2010 list of America’s fastest-growing companies and #1 in Marketing and Advertising. The company’s revenues have soared nearly 14,000% in just three years.

WDFA is short for “We Don’t Fool Around,” although the R-rated version is NSFW. The cheeky acronym perfectly describes the mindset of this marketing upstart that excels in micromarketing and guerilla tactics as seen in its work for Out to Sea, a tattoo lotion brand.

Micromarketing and guerilla marketing offers a wide canvas for creativity and cheekiness. WDFA will consider any consumer touchpoint that offers an opportunity to communicate a brand message and drive sales.

Their tactics run the gamut: street promotions, door-to-door campaigns, matchbooks, napkins, branded money, wrist stamps, sidewalk art, on-street projectors. No surface, including the sky, is beyond its reach.

Raj Prasad, WDFA founder, describes micromarketing this way: “When I was in school fifteen years ago, America was described as a melting pot. This is no longer true. Now it’s more like a fruit salad — individually defined. Micromarketing looks at society as smaller clusters rather than mass demographics.”

Asked how they conduct 400 targeted, micro-campaigns monthly, Prasad quips, “hard work.” Thirty-eight WDFA employees create and deploy 100 campaigns weekly, which amounts to 15-20 daily. The average hours per project is three, some taking 20 minutes and others a full week. Their average invoice is between $5,000 – $7,000.

With clients such as Metro PCS, Comcast, The Wall Street Journal, KGO Radio, Extreme Pizza, Andersen’s Bakery and Budweiser, they’re not exactly fooling around. Prasad says WDFA employs an old-school advertiser mindset: no cookie-cutter approach, but taking every client on with tailored research, creative, and deployment coordination.

“We’re a blue collar agency,” he says. “We defy stereotypes — work hard and smart.”

For a telecom in New York, they were asked to recruit wireless customers in bars. They plastered the neighborhood with wrist stamps redeemable for discounts, napkins and match books and projector images. Their campaigns are hyperlocal and granular to zip+4 level of demographic detail, down to traffic intersections.

They work with demographic data providers such as MapInfo and TargetPro, and for ethnic acculturation, Geoscape; but for guerilla street tactics, they hire local teams, leveraging relationships they’ve developed.

Prasad believes “there’s a huge shift in consumer attitudes and media viewing habits. The on-demand perspective requires a faster, more nimble, adaptive agency response. The days of demographics and lifestyle have been replaced by interest-based marketing. There’s a greater need to understand a consumer’s online behavior than ever before.”

As for predicting where the business will be in five years, Prasad projects “the dominance of online media will bring a drastic change; cloud computing, TV-enabled digital devices, widgets, and mobile will create an environment where personal communications devices are no longer considered cell phones of any kind. Media will become screen-agnostic.”

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