RED BANK, NJ: The Sawtooth Group, a women-owned, full-service creative advertising agency specializing in health, wellness, food and fitness brands is the first tenant to move into the recently renovated Anderson building.

Taking the top 4th floor, the space boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, an open seating plan, a state-of-the-art kitchen for in-house recipe and content creation, creative war rooms, a fitness space and shower, as well as outdoor seating spaces to foster overall employee wellness.

From their 180 degree outside deck, spectacular views of the building tops of Red Bank and the Navesink River can be seen.

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Makes you want to consider a career in advertising.

We spoke with President & CEO Kristi Bridges, a Rumson resident with 25+ years of experience in food and wellness marketing.  Some clients she’s helped bring to the agency include McCormick Herbs & Spices, Explore Cuisine, Peanut Butter & Company, Wise Women Herbals, New Chapter Vitamins and local nonprofits like Lunch Break.  Philanthropy is hugely important to Kristi and the entire team.

We asked Kristi a few questions to learn more about herself and her company:

TAPinto: Tell us about yourself, where you grew up and your family life now

Bridges: I was born and raised in Old Bridge, NJ.  I have been a Rumson resident for 20 years.  I moved there when my daughter was 5.  She now lives in Manhattan and works in PR, and I am still in Rumson with my two dogs, Carter and Gracie.

TAPinto: What sparked your interest in a marketing and advertising career?

Bridges: When I was 11 years old, my dad took me along on sales call at an advertising agency. I was immediately inspired by the woman creative director/owner on that team.  From that moment on, I knew I wanted to be in advertising.

TAPinto: How did you come up with the name “Sawtooth”?

Bridges: The name Sawtooth came from the previous management team.  It was named after a mountain range in Idaho that was impressive, but little known.  Sawtooth was founded in 1989 and I joined the company as a copywriter in 1996 and grew into the agency’s creative director.  In 2016, I bought the agency and became the sole owner and CEO

I quickly pivoted and focused the agency focus on food and fitness and health and wellness companies and brands, as we have a lot of experience in those areas, and I am personally very passionate about helping American consumers truly understand how what they eat and do, effects their overall health and wellness.

We are a full-service agency that handles everything from strategy, to branding, to e-commerce, content creation, video, digital media, community management and PR.

TAPinto: You have extensive experience in Food and Beveridge, Consumer Package Goods, Beer and Wine industries just to name a few.  How do you formulate a marketing pitch for these clients?  What kind of questions do you ask so that you can differentiate their product from the competition?

Bridges: We always like to start with a really insightful strategy that quickly helps brands understand their modern consumer on a deep level.  

We developed a digital research platform called I-Factor because we felt that the traditional way brands did market research was too expensive and took too much time.  I-Factor is a one-of-a-kind marketing and data insights platform that allows us to get a deep understanding consumer by using quantifiable data to identify a compelling, behavior-changing insight.  This quick and deep understanding a brand’s consumer allows us efficiently find their unique position in the marketplace and develop a breakthrough creative campaign and media plan.

TAPinto:  Your website talks about, “…getting brands in shape.”  Explain what that means.

Bridges: We believe that a lot of the same principles that apply to human fitness can be and should be applied when it comes to a brand.  Just as a person needs to exercise to get stronger brands need goals, tools, and training to make them strong.  Whether is executing a social media strategy or developing new messaging, we take the steps needed to make a brand fitter and stronger so that they can achieve their goals.  This could be more sales, followers, customers, foot traffic.

TAPinto:  Millennials (age range for 25-39 years old), have a market size of 71 million.  Discuss your strategy on the media that you use to connect with this group.

Bridges: We always have our finger on the pulse of what’s trending.  That means we know what Millennials thinking, feeling and doing at all times, largely due to I-Factor®.  We always tell our clients to be where their customers are!  If your target customers are using Pinterest, then as a brand, its super important to be investing on that platform.

Also, we know millennials are the ultimate health-conscious consumers.  They are willing to pay more for what’s better for them and brands can’t be afraid of that.  It is okay to have a higher priced product if the offering is of higher quality.

TAPinto: You’re one of the creators of I-Factor a research tool designed to understand today's digital consumer's relationship to brands.  Tell us more how and what data you use to provide insight into product marketing

Bridges: I-Factor combines quantitative data with qualitative insights, along with real-time social listening to understand a consumer’s relationship with a brand in real time.

It allows us access consumers and get information we need to develop thoughtful brand strategies in less time and for less money than traditional research tools.

This tool allows us to better understand what consumers are thinking, feeling and ultimately doing on behalf of a brand.

This information helps guide messaging, develop incredibly compelling creative and create media plans in the most relevant places.

TAPinto: What other future aspects do you see in digital marketing?

Bridges: Despite how some people feel about it, social media marketing isn’t going away.  As we are already seeing, brands have to pay in order to be seen by their audience, even on social.  It is already becoming the Television and Print of today.  I think truly understanding what works in social media is going become more vital for brands and targeting their audience is going to be more important than ever.  So, a tool like I-Factor that lets brands understand their performance on a daily basis, will become more and more important.

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