Friday, June 6, 2008

Merkle lands Navy Memorial deal, moves to Howard County

Marketing agency leaves Lanham for Columbia

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Fresh from its relocation to Howard County, Merkle Inc. has signed on to help the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., increase public awareness of the organization honoring those who have served at sea.

Merkle, a database marketing company that moved from Lanham to Columbia this week, recently signed a multimillion-dollar, three-year contract with the Navy Memorial to be its agency of record. The memorial is best known for its statue of ‘‘The Lone Sailor” by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld at 701 Pennsylvania Ave. near the National Mall.

The company just completed its move to its new five-story, 120,000-square-foot building in Columbia Gateway on Monday. Merkle, founded in 1971, has been in Prince George’s County for more than three decades. The privately held company employs more than 1,100 people, including about 300 in Maryland.

Although Prince George’s County officials offered Merkle several other potential sites in the county to consider for its move, company officials made their decision in February 2007.

‘‘Our new location in Columbia places Merkle in a premier position to attract new talent and accommodate our expanding workforce,” David Williams, president and CEO, said in a statement Monday.

In its new role with the Navy Memorial, Merkle will manage and deliver all fundraising campaigns for the organization and offer counseling to help the memorial reach its financial goals, as well as help the organization appeal to a younger audience.

One of the primary elements of this latter mission is the Navy log, which was created 20 years ago and includes more than 600,000 service profiles of service members. The Navy Memorial is establishing a modernized log that will keep the hard copy volume but also offer a Web site that functions much as the social-networking site Facebook and helps current Navy members connect to each other and former members.

‘‘The memorial wants to attract new donors by possibly converting loggers into future donors,” said Rachel Hunt, spokeswoman for Merkle. ‘‘We’re supposed to help them decide how to best reach the public.”

Jen Luke, vice president of accounts services for Merkle, said the contract gives Merkle an opportunity to expand its footprint within the nonprofit industry. More than 40 percent of Merkle’s work is with nonprofits, she said.

‘‘It’s a significant deal. We’re very, very excited to be able to help venture into social networking,” Luke said.

Luke said the Navy Memorial sought out different database marketing companies and eventually decided Merkle offered the best end-to-end marketing and in an integrated fashion. Attempts to contact Navy Memorial officials for comment were unsuccessful.

‘‘We are working with goals of 15 percent annual growth,” Luke said.

Merkle had revenues of almost $181 million last year, with $220 million projected in 2008, according to company information.