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Retailers Hire Niche Agency

As the new year approaches, advertising agencies are planning the 2017 budgets for their clients – and Bloom Ads Inc. is working with bigger names than ever before. That’s because the Woodland Hills media buying and planning agency procured three major contracts during the past year, including its most recent win with Smart & Final Inc. of Commerce. Earlier, it landed deals with 99 Cents Only Stores Inc., also of Commerce, and Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood. A media buying agency doesn’t create ads, but they buy time on television or radio, and space in publications or internet sites where the ads appear. Bloom Ads first identifies a company’s demographic and then devises a strategy to reach that audience. To do so, the agency conducts a ton of research, comes up with a timeline, handles scheduling and payment negotiations with different media outlets and ensures goals are met throughout the campaign. “What Bloom Ads really represents is that surround-sound media approach,” said Chief Executive Kathe Bloom. “People are consuming media everywhere, so it’s really difficult to have a single tactic these days.” For example, the one-year contract with Smart & Final is focused on bringing awareness to its Smart & Final Extra! stores, which include its typical warehouse offerings as well as an expanded grocery component for the everyday shopper. Currently, the agency is putting ads on radio and television, but Bloom said the client wants even more regional coverage, which requires using other localized media outlets such as potential social media posts. This creates a multi-layered – or as Bloom referred to it, a surround sound – approach to gain scale and reach those key demographic groups, ultimately bringing in more shoppers and increasing sales. But just obtaining the contract is a job in itself, as Bloom and her team had to compete with several other ad agencies for the gig in what ended up being a nine-month bidding process. During that time, Bloom Ads had to show Smart & Final what it brings to the table and how it can add more value to the brand. “I think it was apparent that Bloom understood our marketing challenges (and) had some immediate optimization tactics for our media planning and buying,” Smart & Final’s Media Marketing Manager Jacklyn Avila wrote in an email to the Business Journal. As part of the plan, Avila said Smart & Final is utilizing local cable and radio stations, including Spanish-language stations, and establishing the store as a holiday headquarters for all seasonal needs as well as changing brand perception to that of a grocery store. The company just inked a deal with video streaming site Hulu in Santa Monica to advertise to tech-savvy millennials, a previously untapped market. Up in downturn Bloom and her best friend Lisa Nichols-Jell, who is vice president at the agency, started the company in Bloom’s guest house during the height of the recession. The duo met in 1996 as they were both starting out in the communications industry. At the turn of the century, Bloom was running an advertising agency on its last leg and became responsible for staffing her team. She hired Nichols-Jell, and the two turned around the company while also considering what it would be like to own their own agency one day. During this time, their employer decided to exit the business and focus more on his print endeavor. “It was either we would go back into the fold on the print side or we would go and do our own thing,” Bloom said. So in 2008, Bloom Ads was born. The economy was bad, but they felt their ideas and direction were good. “It was really when the internet was booming and Google, at the time, was going crazy,” Nichols-Jell said. “We just didn’t see the future in print.” They landed their first account with Panda Express, which wanted multi-media advertising and ironically – no print. Current campaigns Bloom Ads’ other clients also want a brand facelift. 99 Cents is “refreshing” its stores, upgrading the interiors and offering more fresh foods and organic produce. The company is making these changes regionally in phases and started with its San Diego market over the summer. 99 Cents recently completed upgrades in its Phoenix territory and is revamping its Vegas stores next year. Bloom Ads is attacking this campaign through social media, print, billboards, radio, television and even sign spinners. “They (Bloom Ads) work hard and know how to dig deep and apply unconventional tactics to our unconventional brand,” Erin Estelle, marketing director for 99 Cents, wrote in an email to the Business Journal. “It’s not just a contract. It’s a partnership that is at the core of our marketing strategy.” As for Hollywood Park, the casino held the grand opening for its new Vegas-style facility in October. The new location will be part of the Inglewood entertainment complex that will include the Los Angeles Rams new stadium slated to open in 2019. Bloom Ads was brought in to help with the transition from the original location to the new venue by retaining older customers and bringing in new clientele. The original casino, which was adjacent to the former horse racing venue Hollywood Park Racetrack, was more than 20 years old and largely outdated with florescent lighting and cafeteria-style dining. The new facility, which is 40 percent larger, has modern features such as big-screen televisions, separate high-stakes rooms, a dine-in restaurant and a four-story parking structure right next door. During construction, the old casino remained open and was closed right before the grand opening of the new one in hopes of preserving its original customer base and enticing new patrons. “That’s what has kind of been our challenge – figuring out the right mix,” Nichols-Jell said. “We don’t want to switch it over too soon, but we want to start moving them in that direction.” One approach is hosting Monday Night Football in the casino’s restaurant. Bloom Ads has one of its partners, radio station Power 106 FM, bring football players and sports announcers to draw in crowds to the weekly event. Free tickets and prizes are given away as part of the promotion. Smart & Final has 248 locations in California, Arizona and Nevada as well as other stores in Florida and Mexico. 99 Cents has 348 stores spanning throughout California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas. As a 24-employee firm in the West Valley, Bloom Ads landed big clients because of the agency’s local focus, said Russel Wohlwerth, principal at Los Angeles advertising consultancy External View Consulting Group. Even though these retail clients have many stores, they still utilize very targeted, local media, which is a good fit for a boutique regional firm like Bloom Ads. “People buying that heavily local have good relationships with local media,” he said. “They can probably accomplish a lot with local media and can customize more for the market.” He compared this with bigger agencies that concentrate on broad-sweeping national campaigns, which is a whole other ballgame. Nevertheless, Bloom Ads has sizeable plans for the upcoming year – locally and nationally. The agency is looking into sponsorship opportunities for some of its clients with the L.A. Rams as well as gearing up for this year’s Super Bowl. “The big game is in Houston this year and 99 Cents Only Stores are in that market,” Bloom said. “We are putting together some really cool, fun promotions to connect the brand with sports fans.”

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