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Oxford Communications in Lambertville proving marketers don't have to be city slickers

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Chuck Whitmore, chief creative officer, left, and John Martorana, president, believe Oxford Communications' rural location gives them an edge.
Chuck Whitmore, chief creative officer, left, and John Martorana, president, believe Oxford Communications' rural location gives them an edge. - (PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

When pitching a project, Oxford Communications Chief Executive John Martorana hands clients what looks like an ordinary brochure — until it's opened.

That's when you can literally see and hear the difference.

A commercial plays on a small integrated screen within the brochure. It's a way Oxford lets customers know they are getting a mix of the latest and greatest ideas in marketing.

The biggest surprise, however, is not the music or visuals, but where they came from.

Oxford Communications is not a big-city agency from New York City or Philadelphia, but a boutique firm of just 40 employees based in Lambertville.

For Martorana, the location is a plus.

"People count it against you when you're located outside the city, but I think what we deliver far exceeds other companies simply because we don't have the stresses of city life," he said. "We're able to focus on our work without being tied to a train schedule."

Chuck Whitmore, the chief creative officer at the firm, agrees.

Whitmore believes that being situated less than 90 minutes from those big cities is the company's greatest asset, he said, as its relaxed lifestyle helps it attract and retain top employees while maintaining access to bigger clients.

"We can create important work and look out the window to see deer and foxes — you can't do that from a Manhattan office," Whitmore said.

Oxford Communications bills itself as a full-service marketing agency — one they say succeeds by embodying the concepts of truth, turf and energy.

They first identify the core truths of a company based on consumer experience. Then, they stake out the most profitable turf for that company in the marketplace. Finally, they energize the company through multiple advertorial channels such as print, interactive websites, radio and television, social media and public relations events.

Oxford Communications gets at least some of the inspiration for its efforts from their actual office — which is located on Music Mountain Boulevard and has a story all its own.

"We are not simply words on a page — the creative spirit lives inside our colorful building," Martorana said.

The company pays tribute to another tenant that once occupied the space — the Lambertville Music Circus of the 1960s — by hanging posters of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Liberace and more around its open-concept offices.

The building was then a fully functioning restaurant when Oxford purchased it in 2000, before renovating it for relocation in 2002.

It's been a success ever since.

Oxford Communications has earned more than 300 awards for its work.

Its list of clients is extensive, including several national shopping outlets, Fortune 100 companies, manufacturers and franchises such as Wegmans. Its clients have also included institutions such as Drexel University and Thomas Edison State College, along with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

Most notably, it was named Best in Show by the New Jersey Advertising Club — the only agency to win the honor twice in three years — and one of the 2009 50 Fastest Growing Companies selected by NJBIZ.

"Our experienced staff can work wherever they want, but they choose to work here. We honor and appreciate that," Martorana said.

"We want to do great work for great people, with great people."

E-mail to: megf@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @megfry3

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Meg Fry

Meg Fry

Meg Fry covers manufacturing and retail. Meg joins NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television. She continues to write and market her own spec scripts and screenplays. You can contact her at megf@njbiz.com or @MegFry3 on Twitter.

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