Brad Bennett and Stacie Brenner

In 2002, Mike Grice and Brad Bennett founded Wildfire, a fully integrated marketing communications company located in Winston-Salem. In 2009, they bought Keystone Marketing from Roger Bear, who retired after 20 years at Keystone’s helm. This purchase folded Keystone’s motorsports-related business into Wildfire while retaining the Keystone brand.CEO Brad Bennett and Director of Business Development Stacie Brenner shared their viewpoints of the melding of the two businesses, saying they complemented each other and filled in some missing pieces each had.

The 52 employees – some of whom migrated from Keystone – are responsible for $30M in annual billing. Clients include Hanes, BB&T, National Guard, Wake Forest, Lowes, Mack Truck and Kraft. Its motorsports focus offers creative messaging reaching NASCAR fans, which features 10 components that include traditional media, social media, event signage and more. Field marketing includes product launches and loyalty programs and event planning is offered as well.

Activation, public relations, media planning and ad buys, brand identity and packaging, broadcast, radio and print production, sales promotions and in-store merchandising are all offered by Keystone. At track event hosting, hospitality and VIP experiences fall under the motorsports umbrella.

Keystone offers many diverse services. Maybe an example would help understand just what they do.

In 2010, Nabisco tasked Keystone with developing a consumer sweepstakes for 2011. Nabisco wanted a promotion that would allow its key brands to showcase the “Official Cookie and Cracker” status with NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing and leverage a new partnership with an existing Stewart-Haas sponsor. Keystone cultivated a relationship between Nabisco and Chevrolet in which Chevrolet helped support the sweeps with a key element to the prize offering – two vehicles. Another component enticed consumers to buy Nabisco snacks and engage them with a call to action of entering to win via web, text or mail. The sweeps went on to award two winners and three guests with a trip to the NASCAR Championship weekend in Homestead, Fla. Winners and their guests were VIPs: special access at NASCAR’s Championship Drive and the Blake Shelton concert, a behind the scenes look at the speedway and lunch with Ritz driver Tony Stewart and Oreo driver Ryan Newman. Guests witnessed history during the weekend and were able to congratulate Tony in Victory Lane on clinching the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Best of all, Tony’s winner drove away in a 2012 Chevy Camaro and Ryan’s winner was handed keys to a 2012 Chevy Silverado. Consumers loved it and Nabisco did too — it received more than 3.2 million entries.

Visit Keystone’s website to learn more.

Corinne Economaki