Agency Rebrands, Can't Explain What the Hell It Does

Let's play a game. South Carolina-based agency Chernoff Newman has rebranded and...wait for it...launched a new Web site. And now the game. Read what Chernoff Newman President and COO had to say about the branding process: “Our philosophy is grounded in finding a human connection that positively impacts the bottom line of our clients. We asked ourselves, how do we do this? The answer is our mantra: to discover, create, connect and inspire.” Now explain what the agency does. Now read what Senior VP and CD Heather Price said: “We needed a brand that would allow people the opportunity to look at us differently. A look that more accurately describes who we are and what we do, that’s forward-leaning, smart and people-oriented. A way of talking about ourselves that showcases our curiosity and creativity while maintaining a foundation of innovation and measurement.” Now explain what the agency does. Can you? Do any of these words make sense? Do they differentiate the agency from any other agency in the world? It's time to end buzzword bingo and actually come up with differentiating factors that set you apart from the competition.

There are not many ad agencies in Rochester, NY. And there aren't many run by women. There or anywhere for that matter. But Rochester-based Partners + Napier is one such agency. Launched by Sharon Napier, the agency is celebrating its tenth anniversary this week. Kudos. Commenting on the lack of women running things in advertising, Napier said: “There needs to be more women at the top in advertising. The work has to work. It has to be creative, it has to be breakthrough work. At the end of the day, it has to drive our clients’ business.” Napier founded the company through a management buyout of her previous employer, Toronto-based Wolf Group.

We can just picture Razorfish Australia Co-Founder Iain McDonald running down the high school hallway on the last day of school screaming with glee. Or at least that's the picture that formed in our head after he announced he was leaving the agency and said, “My feelings are very much like that of a teenager leaving home for the first time but with the old family right behind.” McDonald is leaving to concentrate on personal projects. He added: “With things going well for Razorfish and me having ideas I want to pursue without any strings attached, it’s the right time. It’s been carefully planned for a while and I am in no doubt that Razorfish is ready." Have fun, Iain!

Do you ever think about the amount of ink a particular typeface uses? Is it even a consideration when you develop a campaign? Grey London thinks so. Developed as an internal project, the agency took the font, which uses 33% less ink than standard typefaces, to the U.K.'s largest stationer, Ryman Stationary. The font, Ryman Eco, was developed at the same time a 14-year-old American student suggested the U.S. federal and state governments could save $370 million annually by switching from Times New Roman to Garamond. The font isn't really much to look at, but if it can save money and ink, we're all for it.

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1 comment about "Agency Rebrands, Can't Explain What the Hell It Does".
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  1. Fernando MarĂ­n from MM , April 30, 2014 at 4:56 a.m.

    A lot of agencies have to reinvent themselves because of the "new" social network situation. And it's a success. We need to be the difference beetween all brands around the world, and this is not an easy job.

  • Agency Thanks Donald Trump For Supporting The Republican Party

    Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has progressed from clown car buffoon into what some believe to be a full blown threat to the Republican party. This includes Boulder-based TDA_Boulder which is out with a new video encouraging Trump to continue coming to the aid of the Democratic party.

    In the video, agency staffers say, "I hope Donald Trump wins the Republican primary. Sure, he's a bigot. Big bigot. But polls indicate he could never win a general election. So every time Trump says something offensive to me or anyone else, he's one step closer to putting a Democrat in the White House. So keep talking. Talk as much as possible Mr. Trump. Thank you, Mr. Trump, for supporting the Democratic party in 2016. 

    The site points to, which redirects to a page on the TDA_Boulder site on which visitors will read, “We’re not a political party; we are something even more objectionable, we are an advertising agency. But an advertising agency with some ethics and good intentions, and we don’t like bullies. This video is our unified stand on behalf of our co-workers, peers, friends and family members who are Hispanic. We’re offended by Mr. Trump’s assertions concerning Hispanic members of our community.”

  • Former Ogilvy Creative Slams Unilever For Mercury Pollution With Viral Video

    Former Ogilvy & Mather Creative Supervisor Sofia Ashraf has created a video (entitled Kodaikanal Won't, a rap set to the tune of Nicki Minaj's Anaconda. The video, which has amassed 1.3 million views and 12,808 likes since its release July 30, takes issue with Unilever and its use of mercury in a now closed plant in India.

    In the video, Ashraf sings, "Unilever dumped toxic mercury in Kodaikanal, poisoning its workers and the forest. In the past 14 years, Unilever has done nothing to clean up the contamination and compensate its workers and their families, despite talking a big game about social responsibility." 

    The video is aimed at Unilever Global CEO Paul Polman and urges the company to better deal with the fallout which began in 2001 at the company's thermometer plant. Apparently toxic mercury was dumped around the plant and hasn't been properly cleaned up since 2001. The video also urges people to sign a petition. To date, 38,032 have signed the petition.

    Piyush Pandey, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather which handles Unilever, said of Ashraf's video, "There is an individual's personal choice of supporting something or standing up for a cause, religious belief or whatever else. At the same time, all of us have signed an employment letter saying we won't do anything against the interest of our clients. It's a conflict of interest scenario, but there's no dispute since she's already put in her papers." 

    For its part, Unilever, through a spokesperson, said, "We have acted in a transparent and responsible manner since the issue first arose in 2001, when we immediately closed the factory and launched an investigation. We have been rigorous in establishing facts and several independent expert studies have concluded that there were no adverse impacts on the health of our people at Kodaikanal. We have also taken action to ensure the clean-up of soil within the factory premises."

    Nicki Minaj, herself, has taken notice and, in response to the video, tweeted, "Wow."
  • Watch Out Agencies! CMO Club Has Launched A Yelp-Like Ad Agency Rating Service

    The CMO Club, founded in 2013 and comprised of 700 member chief marketing officers, has launched what it's calling a vendor rating program which will rank and categorize agencies, media-buying firms and other advertising service firms into 18 categories.

    CMO Club Founder Peter Krainik says the service is simply an organized version of the conversations that already occur between CMOs when they mix and mingle with each other at industry events. The rating service, which has been collecting input since early 2013, will be available to CMO Club members but will not be made public. 

    In collecting data for the rating service, CMOs are asked to answer 15 questions consisting of drop downs and open ended questions.

    Of the service, Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi CEO Jack Klues said: "A confidential sharing of experiences within this group seems no different than that provided by Glass Door, which allows employees a place to anonymously share their experiences with current past employers. I welcome constructive, credible criticism. Rants and complaints without context or substantiation help no one."

  • Martin Sorrell Says IOC Needs To Reach Millennials Between Two-Year Olympic Cycle

    Speaking at the International Olympic Committee meeting on Sunday, WPP CEO Martin Sorrell said the Committee needs to make it a priority to connect with and stay connected with younger generations during the two-year span between games.

    Pointing out that live coverage is the IOC's biggest asset, Sorrell said: "Live sports coverage is the last bastion of high-value traditional programming. Most consumers want to watch videos when and where they choose. But they can't do that with live sports. Its power is its immediacy."

    Sorrell suggests that between games the IOC increase its presentation of on-demand content and presence in social media, with the goal of maintaining and generating new excitement for the next Olympics.

  • Yawn. Yet Another Marketer Argues Agencies Are Dead

    Funny thing. For years now, hundreds of articles have been written about the death of the traditional ad agency. Another funny thing -- most of them are still around. Why? Because any good company, no matter what the industry, follows the money. If brands want a million-dollar branding campaign consisting solely of tweets, that’s what the agency will do. If the brand wants to Snapchat its CEO Periscoping a Reddit AMA, that's what the agency will do.

    While it's certainly true that companies that only create TV, radio and print ads don't exist anymore, it's not because they closed up shop and called it a day. No, they got their shit together and learned all about this newfangled content marketing thingamajig. 

    So it gets kind of tiresome when upstarts like a company that touts that it "instantly organizes the world’s social and digital signals by location, giving an unprecedented level of understanding of what’s happening anywhere in the world, in real time" begin penning articles saying ad agencies are dying. 

    It has already happened. Agencies have moved on. 

    And yet, penning a piece for Mashable, Banjo CMO Stacey Epstein writes: "Ad agencies and brand advertisers persist in focusing on that perfect 30-minute spot. It's what they know and what they're good at, but they're failing to reach their audience who now spends their time in an entirely different place."

    To a certain degree, Epstein is right. But many of these agencies that are still stuck in the land of the :30 second (and I'm quite sure she meant second and not minute) TV ad are also forging ahead with marketing programs that incorporate the kind of media that's being consumed today the way TV was consumed yesterday. 

    In the piece, Epstein does point out super-smart work that brands have done such as components of Bud Light's Up For Whatever and Under Armour's Giselle Bundchen campaign -- which, by the way, involved an agency.

    My point is that it's time to stop screaming "The ad agency is dead!" Because it's not. It has just become something else. Something that is better suited to today's media habits and consumption patterns. Yes, there will always be Super Bowl and Cannes Lions stupidity -- but hey, ad agencies are filled with self-centered, egotistical, self-esteem award-craving people who would all curl up into a fetal position if they didn't get the occasional pat on the back.

    So let them have their Super Bowl ads and their Cannes Lions. Because maybe, just maybe, they'll also keep creating cool shit that matches today's media consumption patterns.

  • This Copywriter Thinks Successful Female Ad Execs Can Be 'Back-Stabby' Mean Girls

    Answering a Quora question, "What is it like to work at an advertising agency?", advertising copywriter and critic Caroline Zelonka wrote, among other highly informative and insightful information about working in ad agencies: "It all sounds like heaven, right? It is, but agencies can also be high-pressure, with lots of competition and politicking. The agency environment is also male-dominated, especially in the higher creative echelons. Women who succeed can often be back-stabby, and in my experience, not very nurturing when it comes to younger female talent. This is one thing I did not like about working for big agencies; a lot of the women reminded me of the Mean Girls movie."

    Yes, I am fully aware this question was answered two years ago so you don't have to get all over me for that one. Zelonka does offer some very valuable -- and timeless -- information to those thinking of working in an ad agency. Having spent many years there myself, I can completely concur with her assessment.

    She points out that it can be "awesome" and rewarding both personally and professionally. She points out the many perks that come with working in an ad agency, and equally, the many long hours and client frustrations that go hand in hand with all the awesomeness.

    Perhaps you've already read her Quora post. Perhaps you haven't. It's worth a read if you're interested in considering an ad agency career or if you have been asked this question by another person who's interested.

  • These 3 Agency Guys Are Walking 125 Miles To Pitch A Piece Of New Business

    Three guys from Italian ad agency Le Balene decided to do something a bit different to pitch a piece of business. They decided to walk from their agency in Milan to a prospect's office in Reggio Emilia, a distance of 125 miles.

    Agency CEO Marco Andolfato along with creatives Davide Canepa and Francesco Guerrera left their office last Friday, and if all goes according to plan, the trio will arrive at the prospect's office today, Friday.

    The brand they are pitching is a mobile accessories provider and the purpose of the trek, according to Andolfato, is to demonstrate just how mobile society has become and how much actual work can get done outside the confines of an office because of the mobile tools available today.

    Elaborating on this, Andolfato told AdWeek: "We want to demonstrate that technology is an enabler of whatever you want to do. Every worker is a mobile one these days, and every worker can use technology to work better. As advertising people, to work better we need to take more time to think, and technology is helping us to savor slowness, and to think faster. So, we decided to walk the 200 kilometers from our office to the client's, working on the presentation while on the journey."

    Here's a video of them on the excursion. They've hashtagged their journey #mobileworkers and their experiences will be incorporated into their pitch once they arrive.

    Andolfato explains: "We are preparing a movie — shooting during the days and editing it during the evenings. This should exemplify the idea, but just in case, we're preparing 4/5 strategic slides. Of course, we're planning to enter the meeting room with backpacks and boots."
  • Arnold Worldwide Wins Association of Realtors, Will Teach Digital Millennials The Value of Human Realtors

    Increasingly, there aren't many people who know what a Walkman is. And it seems, there are a lot of Millennials who don't really understand what a realtor is or how this non-digital human can add value beyond the mouse click to the home-buying process.

    The National Association of Realtors just awarded its account to Arnold Worldwide after having been handled by Most for the past 20 years. Arnold will be charged with making the realtor relevant again.

    Of the win, Arnold Global President Pam Hamlin said: “Arnold is tasked with helping NAR reclaim the Realtor’s role in the overall home-buying process, and to educate millennials on what a Realtor does and the value they can provide."

    Hamlin adds that Arnold will “target millennials through an integrated cross-channel campaign, which will center primarily on television and digital activations.” Work is expected to break in the fourth quarter.

    Of choosing Arnold over incumbent Most which also participated in the pitch, National Association of Realtors Senior VP of Communications Stephanie Singer said: “Most participated in the pitch and made it to the final round. The decision ultimately was not about the past quality of their work, only an interest in moving in a different direction.”


  • Hey Creatives, Six Out of Ten People Say Your Twitter Ads Are Irrelevant

    On the upside, a recent eMarketer report found Twitter ad revenue will rise 62.1% to $1.34 billion in 2015. On the not so upside, a June 2015 Cowen and Company research report found that 58.7% of people don't find Twitter ads relevant to their needs. Only 3.1% said Twitter ads were relevant and insightful.

    In terms of how often people notice Twitter ads, 56.6% of respondents saw ads at least every 20 tweets. Breaking that down a bit, 5.8% saw ads every 5 tweets; 18.2% every 10 tweets; 17.1% every 15 tweets and 15.5% every 20 tweets.

    And while better creative will certainly improve these numbers, the onus stretches beyond ad creativity to targeting capability. While Twitter currently has targeting capabilities, these capabilities will very likely improve with the recent acquisition of TellApart and a partnership with Google's DoubleClick.
  • For 11 Years, Woo Creative Founder Has Been Wishing Arnold Schwarzenegger Would Show Up At His 'Arnold Day' Event

    Way back in 2004, University of Central Florida graduate and Woo Creative Founder Ryan Boylston began hosting an event called Arnold Day. Arnold Day, which started with just Boylston and a few friends gathering at Orlando bar Lazy Moon to watch Schwarzenegger movies on the actor's birthday, has grown to a 1,200-person event.

    Of the event's genesis, Boylston said: "Way back when, it was a simple concept… two Arnold fans, a 19-inch TV, a VCR -- that's right, a VCR -- and the greatest pizza/beer establishment in Orlando."

    Each year, diehard Arnold fans showed up in their favorite Arnold movie attire, to share their love for Mr. "I'll be back!"

    On how the day will go down, Lazy Moon Co-Owner Tim Brown said: "Ryan's awesome. On Arnold Day, we'll serve German or Austrian beers, bratwurst pizza and the event has caught on with both employees and customers. We're not sure Arnold will show up, but it's a fun day either way."

    The event also supports Boylston's fundraising goals, which include collecting $20,000 which will be donated to Boynton Beach-based CJ Foundation which provides financial resources to families with special needs children.

    Of the charity side of the effort, Boylston said: "The monies we raise are for kids to receive therapy not covered by insurance. This therapy can change the trajectory of a child's life."

    Donations will be collected at the Arnold Day event but anyone can visit the Arnold Day website on which contributions can be made. 

    This year, Arnold Day will be Aug. 1 at Lazy Moon Pizza, 11551 University Blvd., in Orlando.

    Come on, Arnold, show up for Ryan, won't you?

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