“What’s in a name? Much more than we realized,” admits the website of leading global marketing services network Impiric. Or rather, the website of Wunderman.

As of today, Impiric is no more, and the firm – a subsidiary of ad agency Young & Rubicam – has decided to rename itself after Lester Wunderman, the pioneer of direct marketing who founded its predecessor over forty years ago and whose name was dropped from the company title last year.

The Impiric appellation was adopted in February 2000, replacing Wunderman Cato Johnson – the title the agency had held since 1992 when Wunderman Ricotta & Klein merged with Cato Johnson. However, the change has proved unpopular, and many of the senior management who championed the Impiric rebranding have since moved on.

“Last year, with the excesses of the dotcom boom, the world went mad,” explained Stewart Pearson, Wunderman’s chief executive for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “And in changing the name to Impiric, we reflected that madness.”

The problem was that the company by any other name did not smell as sweet. “We lost the value of the Wunderman brand. Clients would call up and say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize Impiric was Wunderman,’” Pearson complained, blaming the name change for a fall in business last year.

The company, it seems, fell victim to fashion – Impiric was introduced to give the firm a modern feel, as it sought to offer services which integrated the internet, database-management, telemarketing and consultancy. However, fashions change. Continued Pearson: “The market is now focusing again on results and values. In the marketing world, clients want strategies that deliver and are not just promises of the future.”

The change - with its suggestion of a direct marketing heritage - also fits in with the current strategy of focusing on marketing services adopted by WPP, Wunderman’s ultimate parent.

Lester Wunderman himself, now eighty years old and emeritus chairman of the firm, is reportedly pleased with the decision. He returns to the company’s New York headquarters next week in an advisory role.

News sources: Wall Street Journal; Wunderman website