National branding company to open office downtown in former Batista space

160over90 plans to employ 35 people locally within three years.


Published: Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 6:29 p.m.

A Philadelphia-based branding agency that is working with the University of Florida is opening an office in downtown Gainesville with nine employees initially. The company plans to employ 35 people locally within three years.

On Sept. 1, 160over90 plans to move into the building now occupied by Randy Batista Photography at 21 SE Second Place next to the Hippodrome Theatre.

Four employees are relocating from Philadelphia, and the company is in the process of trying to hire five more to get the office started, with two people already receiving job offers, said Jim Walls, executive creative director.

The jobs pay an average of $90,000, according to the company's application for tax credits.

Walls said the jobs will include copywriters, graphic designers, creative directors and account managers.

The Alachua County Commission and Gainesville City Commission this past week approved tax rebates of as much as $28,000 each if the company reaches expected hiring projections of 35 jobs over three years as a 20 percent local match to the $280,000 total tax credit through the Qualified Target Industry program, with the state picking up 80 percent.

160over90 expects to invest more than $500,000 over three years on construction, equipment, furniture and remodeling, according to the application.

The company also has an office in Newport Beach, Calif., and just more than 100 total employees.

Walls said the Gainesville office allows 160over90 to "plant our flag down South" where it can service accounts such as UF and the Miami Dolphins and try to work with additional universities.

He said about 30 percent of the firm's work is with universities, including UCLA, Notre Dame and Cornell.

Clients also include Nike, Mercedes-Benz, the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, American Eagle Outfitters, the city of Boston and The Athlete's Foot, among others.

160over90 also did work for the owners of the downtown Gainesville restaurant Dragonfly Sushi on their Yume Ume restaurant. Walls said it is coincidental that 160over90 will have a location in Dragonfly's neighborhood.

160over90 takes its name from the reaction it hopes to elicit to its work — heightened blood pressure.

Walls said the company's job as a branding agency is to look at anything affecting public perception about a client — "with an ad campaign, with a website, with how people answer the phone, with uniforms. All that creates a perception. Our goal is to get it as positive as possible."

Through its contacts at UCLA, Walls said the agency got to know people at UF and started talking to them about how to help with its branding.

He said 160over90 is in the discovery phase of reviewing UF's marketing research and the public perception of UF to come up with "a single, unified message for the school that is portrayed in everything they do — undergraduate, graduate recruitment, alumni engagement, athletics — to determine what is the one core message that they can deliver in all of their communications so everyone who interacts with the school, they get a consistent message."

That is increasingly important as the Internet allows every school to compete against every other school, Walls said.

"It's important that the people you talk to understand what makes you distinctive," he said.

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