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Marketing integration a new direction for Freeman

One of the biggest players in the tradeshow industry is streamlining its various services and bringing them under the direction of the company’s newest president in charge of integrating the firm’s four marketing units into one.

Chris Cavanaugh

Chris Cavanaugh

Freeman officials recently announced the hiring of Chris Cavanaugh from the Tate & Partners marketing and public relations firm. Cavanaugh formally joins Freeman on Aug. 20 as president of the firm’s new marketing-solutions group, which combines the services formerly provided separately by Freeman subsidiaries Immersa Marketing, Digital Products, Freeman Creative and EventMark.

While the new unit comprised of the four previously separate firms will merge under a new subsidiary with a new name, Freeman will maintain a focus on providing quality customer service.

“There is a recognition that an integral part of the business and business needs have evolved. Freeman as a brand is incredibly strong. We just need to do some analysis to see where we can do better,” said Cavanaugh. “Freeman has been growing organically. Now we need to maintain the fundamentals of customer service, creative ideas and effective marketing that helped build a strong brand while going forward.”

Cavanaugh most recently served as president and chief marketing officer for Taft & Partners, a marketing agency specializing in advertising, digital and social media, public relations and corporate communications. He has more than 20 years of experience creating strategic-marketing plans for some of the world’s largest and most recognizable businesses, including Pfizer, IBM, Nokia and Target. That strategic-marketing experience should prove beneficial for Freeman and its clients as the firm strives to provide more strategic services.

“We have, for a long time, been asked by our customers to work more on a strategic level,” said Joe Popolo, CEO, Freeman. “When we added Wheelhouse and Immersa, we added a lot more tools. Now we need to tee up all of these to provide a more holistic service for our clients.”

Giving clients a more strategic marketing plan instead of just helping them to execute tactical events, such as tradeshows, is the aim of the new unit being formed by the company and why Cavanaugh is an important addition to the Freeman team. Although the new Freeman unit does not have a formal name as of yet, Cavanaugh says his experience at Taft & Partners will help a great deal in his new role.

“Taft was about brand building and brand marketing articulated into creative solutions and how they move audiences,” said Cavanaugh. “My Focus for the first 60 days will be getting to know the team and how we can evolve. We have a lot of really good things to work with.”

With Freeman combining four previously separate units under one banner, many might look for obstacles to success. Instead, Cavanaugh says opportunities mostly are what lie ahead for Freeman and its growing list of clients.

“Freeman has a huge commitment to customer service and a number of programs in place. We are working together to make sure that continues. That’s not where the challenges lie,” said Cavanaugh. “We have an opportunity with a growing mix of clients to develop creative solutions and grow with them.”

Freeman is moving in a new direction after recently selling off its successful subsidiary, Party Time Rentals, which provides rental equipment for exhibits, parties, weddings, festivals, concerts and other large and small events. Canada-based Groupe ABP agreed to purchase the unit for an undisclosed amount in April. Party Time Rentals operated as an independent unit of Freeman’s after the firm acquired the rental service in 2000. Freeman and Party Time Rentals will continue to collaborate on various events.

“Freeman built its brand around providing a high quality of service,” said Popolo. “We still will, just at a much more strategic level.”

Since 1927, Freeman has provided customers with comprehensive services for face-to-face marketing events, including expositions, conventions, corporate events and exhibits. Headquartered in Dallas and with 70 offices in North America, Freeman produces more than 15,000 events annually, including 54 percent of the 250 largest tradeshows in the United States.

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