Bluewater Media: Destination Creative Convergence

A trip through Bluewater Media’s 33,000-square-foot space in Clearwater is a travelogue on advertising’s hallowed ground.

There’s the Billy Mays Memorial Studio which pays homage to the late legendary pitchman with a plaque reading: “Life’s a pitch, and then you buy.” Staged sets range from living rooms to kitchens where approximately 100 commercials are filmed each year. A five-camera niche with podcast and streaming capabilities ready to launch the next big thing.

Over the past three years, the company has grown more than 900 percent and has a total annual revenue of more than $100 million.

Ask Bluewater CEO and founder Andy Latimer about the company’s campus and he’s quick to point out that this attention to detail is just the beginning of what Bluewater Media does to keep on point with today’s marketplace. His company doesn’t just produce, he says, they position.

“We witnessed a disconnect early on with the traditional model of the creative agency,” Latimer says, speaking of Bluewater’s infancy. Latimer and his wife started the company 15 years ago as a creative agency and it didn’t take long before the need to innovate became obvious, he says.

“We couldn’t optimize the way we wanted to,” he says. “Any commercial we produced would just go to different entities and we wouldn’t have the capability to mold the message based on the public’s response. There was too much separation between production and media buying.”

Convergence thus became the name of the marketing and advertising game at Bluewater Media. The company is malleable, like Gumby, in the ever-changing advertising and marketing landscape, anticipating what’s to come and molding messages accordingly. From viral Sodastream campaigns to high-profile campaign successes for brands such as Blackstone, KitchenAid and the MagicJack internet phone service, the Bluewater team seems to know what the customer wants before they do.

Latimer says this is not an accident. It’s a result of the convergence strategy the firm’s clients, which range from startups to established worldwide brands, benefit from. The agency does take on a la carte projects; employees’ understanding of the lifecycle of a brand or product makes it possible to jump in at any stage of development. Still, convergence is in the DNA of Bluewater itself, with its multiple departments vertically integrated to best craft targeted positioning strategies through digital, television and more.

Take Zahalo, the agency’s digital arm that specializes in direct-to-consumer marketing as well as online and paid media management. This piece of the Bluewater puzzle merged with DNA Response, an management company, in 2016. Today, this Amazon specialist house manages $25 million in sales.

Blending the parts necessary to foster campaign success, with expertise like Zahalo’s, results in more than just a one-stop-shop business model. Latimer is quick to point out that it takes more than mere proximity to be effective. It takes the synergy of collaboration, the creative experts, the media buyers and the digital experts working together for better positioning. Speed and efficiency in message dissemination, he says, is also paramount, as is knowing the public’s response. He considers Bluewater a producer and marketer’s toolbox. Reach inside and you’ll find all the parts necessary for effective campaigns, he says.

“Marketing and advertising companies have to put a good amount of focused content out consistently,” he says. “We have the speed and efficiency to do that.”

Digital requirements, social media, television and more, coupled with data that shows what makes campaigns “stick,” is what Bluewater specializes in. Thanks to its multiple capabilities it’s possible to test a campaign, make the necessary changes and buy more media accordingly and efficiently.

Being on the cutting edge of message consumption is imperative, too. “We can hire focus groups before we produce a commercial or run a campaign, sure,” he says. “Or we can take data we already have and  see how the spot performs in the public space—the ultimate focus group—and then tweak it immediately, thanks to real-time results, after that first run.”

Latimer says Tampa Bay businesses should know the future of advertising and marketing is right in their backyard. Historically, he says, brands have looked to places like Los Angeles for high-level integration of direct response strategy with online content and product distribution. But Bluewater’s client roster is global. Its employee base is spreading as well; the company now has employees in various states and Canada.

The synergy—and optimism—are exciting. “There’s such energy here,” he says of his Bluewater team. “When we see something that’s working, we can attack it [quickly].”♦

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