Following national ad campaigns, firm eyes expansion
North County Times: Business Section
By CHRIS BAGLEY Staff Writer | Friday, May 16, 2008 9:39 AM PDT
POWAY —- Danielson Street may be a long way from Madison Avenue.
But don’t tell that to the 15 artists and marketing strategists at L7 Creative Communications Inc. As the firm’s president considers an expansion on the West Coast, they’re working on advertising campaigns ranging from local health-care recruitment to nationwide sales of computer monitors.
One cluster of desks in their office suite sits under the gaze of a giant purple octopus painted onto the wall. Painted onto the opposite wall, a cat stands seven feet tall and wields a machine gun.
In the firm’s brainstorming room, where the group puts heads together over pizza, beer and “bad coffee,” President Tom Gallego pulls up HYPERLINK “http://www.clean-n-safe.com” www.clean-n-safe.com on a Vizio monitor. L7 developed marketing strategies and advertisements for the television manufacturer for several years. The Web site was part of a campaign to encourage testing for sexually transmitted diseases on university campuses where Gen-Probe Inc. sold and donated medical test kits.
After seven years in the business, L7 has created enough ad campaigns —- and placed them on enough Web sites and glossy magazine pages —- to get up to about $3.4 million in annual revenue, said Gallego, who grew up in the San Diego area.
Its recent clients include Palomar Pomerado Health, La Cantina, a Vista company that makes fold-away doors, and Chimei, a television manufacturer that’s launching into the U.S. market.
Chimei brought in L7 in February as it prepared to expand from its Asian markets. The company is initially selling liquid-crystal display televisions and computer monitors to U.S. resorts and other hospitality businesses, and will eventually expand to a range of consumer markets over the next few years, Gallego said.
The bulk of L7′s clients are in Southern California, with several sprinkled elsewhere throughout the U.S. Gallego said he hopes to open a second office in Seattle, Portland, or the San Francisco Bay Area by the end of next year.
The nation’s advertising industry has branched out widely from New York’s Madison Avenue in the last generation, Gallego said.
“I don’t think you can understand your client fully without having that one-on-one, that personal contact,” he said. “It kills me, it pains me when a major San Diego brand goes outside San Diego.”
After 13 years in advertising and media buying, Gallego founded the company in San Diego in 2001. He moved to the location in the Poway Business Park, just north of Scripps-Poway Parkway, in 2003 and incorporated it in 2005.
As Gallego describes it, the firm “brands” each client, industry lingo for establishing an image in the minds of customers and potential customers. Advertising and marketing specialists define “brand” as everything from a company’s logos and advertisements to its reputation and the feeling a customer gets when using the company’s product or service.
The product is important, he said, but so is the image that companies like his create though print ads, 30-second spots and other means. Gallego said a particular success was the scene his company orchestrated at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show last year, when models handed out $700 audio speakers to conventioneers who could spout off the manufacturer’s slogan.
“When you go grab that soft drink off the shelf, something clicks in your psychology, your emotions, to say ‘I want this,’” Gallego said. “You grab what you think tastes good, but … whatever is sexy, too.”