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".
  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.

  • Former Richards Group, Backer & Spielvogel, Publicis Creative Joins Moroch Partners

    Kevin Foreman, whose creative career spans 25 years at shops such as Backer Spielvogel Bates/NY, The Richards Group, Publicis, Tribal DDB, Rapp Worldwide and SHOP.COM, will join Moroch Partners as the agency's Digital Creative Director. Which, when you think about it is pretty awesome because Foreman has to be at least 47 so props to the agency for going against the grain and entrusting an "old guy" with your digital creative.

    Of selecting Foreman for the position, Moroch Partners ECD Kevin Sutton said, “Having Kevin on board will ensure the agency remains ahead of industry shifts and will continue to develop the most significant campaigns we can across multiple consumer-centric platforms. With consumers’ increasing demand for real-time information and brand engagement, digital has become one of the most critical components of our clients’ marketing strategies.”

    Foreman seems pretty happy with the new gig saying, “Moroch was built on the belief that true 360 integration is the key to driving shifts in consumer preferences and behaviors to deliver more immediate, sustainable and significant client results. The leap was intuitive as I share the same belief and passion. I’m excited to dive in and get started.”

  • The 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame Will be Held at JWT

    The New York American Marketing Association will hold its 2015 Marketing Hall of Fame event May 21 from 6 PM to 9 PM at JWT, 466 Lexington Ave., New York City.

    This year, NYAMA will honor four "marketing innovators" who have made outstanding contributions to the field of marketing. The four honorees are David Aaker, vice chairman, Prophet and professor emeritus, BerkeleyHaas School of Business, UC Berkeley; Patagonia Founder Yvon Chouinard; Nike Brand President Trevor Edwards, and Ogilvy & Mather Chairman Emeritus Shelly Lazarus.

    Adding the requisite social media aspect into the event, anyone can win 5 free tickets, otherwise priced at $95 each, by posting/tweeting/sharing with the hashtag #MarketingHoF! that you're attending which you have to do after you buy your own ticket which, oddly, means those 5 free tickets are for your co-workers.
  • Fallon Bolsters Executive Team With New Chief Strategy Officer

    Fallon is on a roll! Fallon has announced an addition to its executive management team. Anette Lillegard, formerly with IMF Health, has joined the agency as Chief Strategy Officer. The news follows several recent account wins for Fallon, a Super Bowl ad, a public thank you from client Arby’s for its “Arby’s: We Have the Meats” campaign and getting named Comeback Agency of the Year by Advertising Age.

    Of the hire, Fallon CEO Mike Buchner said, “We made the conscious decision to look at nontraditional candidates for our Chief Strategy Officer hire. With a desire to expand our current strategic offering into areas such as analytics and consulting, I’m very pleased that we have found someone with a wealth of business strategy experience and an impressive track record of success like Anette."

    As Chief Strategy Officer, Lillegard will be charged with leading strategy within the organization including oversight of Account Planning, Connection Planning, Research, Analytics and Consulting. I'm told she will also have a hand in shaping the future of the company as a member of the Fallon executive management team. 

    Of joining Fallon, Lillegard said, “I am honored to join Fallon and be a catalyst for diversifying our thinking and elevating our discipline to create on–point, bespoken strategy for the brands we all care about.”

    Remember when "bespoke" was just a fashion term used to describe a specialty clothing maker in England?
  • Fallon Officially Scoops Up The Big Ten Network

    The Big Ten Network has announced it officially named Fallon its agency of record following the agency’s development of a fall national campaign focusing on BTN’s college sports focus and ever-expanding reach.

    Of Fallon's work and selecting the agency as AOR, BTN VP of Marketing Erin Harvego said, “The fall college sports campaign was a huge success for the Big Ten Network. We look forward to continuing the momentum with dynamic, original creative that showcases what the Big Ten and college sports are all about. What we enjoy most about working with Fallon is the agency’s ability to present original ideas, and I think they’ve found fun and exciting ways to share our vision with our viewers.”

    Of hooking up with BTN, Fallon Creative Director Josh Combs said, “We like to work with ambitious brands and BTN is among the most motivated with which we’ve worked. The network is determined to become the best network in college sports and our job at Fallon is to help it turn those dreams into a reality.”


  • R/GA Start-Up Accelerator Program Aims to Make Dodger Stadium Experience Better For Fans

    In partnership with the Dodgers, R/GA has launched Dodger Accelerator, a program that aims to guide 10 start-up companies who come up with ideas to better the stadium experience for fans.

    The Dodgers and R/GA will invest $20,000 into each of the 10 start-up ventures in exchange for a 6% stake in the companies. Free Playa Vista office space and mentors including Dodgers owners Mark Walter, Peter Guber and Magic Johnson will also be provided.

    The effort hopes to identify solutions that will enhance stadium operations such as food service efficiencies, second screen experiences for home viewers and stadium energy savings solutions.
  • Naming Agency Still Begging Cannes, CLIO, Pencil to Add Naming Category

    Just last week naming agency CBX placed a full page ad in Advertising Age to run an open letter urging Cannes Lions, CLIO and Pencil to consider adding an award category for naming. In the letter, CBX wrote, name (or verbal identity as they call it) "is the most enduring aspect of any brand; without it, there would be no identity at all. No big idea. No creative campaigns. No trophies in the lobby."

    Apparently, none of the award organizations saw the ad or if they did, they took no action. Now, as if a petulant child, CBX is at it again with a press release which "urges the wider recognition of naming's role in the brand building process."

    Making an argument for naming's inclusion in the award game, CBX CEO Gregg Lipman said, "There's a reason Ernest Hemingway agonized over the title of The Sun Also Rises; a far cry from its original title Fiesta. This was the quintessential novel of the Lost Generation and so the title had to be perfect. What would have happened if 'The Beatles' had stuck with 'The Quarrymen?' After Prince changed his name to a visual symbol, he had to go back to 'Prince' because no one knew what to call him anymore. Simply put, naming matters and this is every bit as true in the world of branding as it is in other realms."

    He may have a point but what's the criteria for the award? Is a brand going to open its waste basket and share all the names it considered for its product launches so judges can compare them to the names that were ultimately chosen? And then how is a jury supposed to measure whether the chosen name succeeded as compared to names that never saw the light of day? In other words, it's case of comparing the success of something to another something that doesn't exist. It makes no sense.

    Perhaps if Lipman could share how he envisions the judging criteria that might help make a better argument and allow award organizations to better understand Lipman's point of view. Then again, that's like asking a Cannes Lions jury to define how they came up with the winners for a Titanium Grand Prix. Or a gold. Or a SIlver. Or a Bronze. 
  • Agencies, This Is the Company That Is Making You Look Stupid

    Influencer marketing. It's the strategy du jour these days. Everyone's doing it, but not everyone is succeeding. In fact, Oliver Luckett, founder of digital influencer agency TheAudience says: “There’s a new company every week that says it does what we do. They don’t have any fuckin’ clue what we do. They think we still manage celebrities’ social media presences. We haven’t done that for a year and a half. It was a terrible, thankless business. Why try to move celebrities that are digital immigrants into it when I’ve got 6,000 kids that speak this language that can push anything and make it trend globally with a push of a button?"

    Luckett isn't shy about his company's success, adding: "We are like the puppet master inside of these social media systems, and we work with these creators that do their thing every day, and we bring them funding. We did that to the tune of $27 million in revenue last year. And we’ve doubled every year.” 

    Luckett has no kind words form brands or agencies or celebrities who don't get the new media landscape. Of Katy Perry's lead up to her Super Bowl performance, of which there was none, Luckett said: “Shame on her. Look at her Facebook page -- not one mention of the Super Bowl! It’s unbelievable. The night of the Super Bowl, I sent her page to the execs at Universal and said, ‘Guys, y’all need to be fired. You’re embarrassing yourselves.’ Her fans wanted to interact with her. Where are the Instagram photos? Show me her inspirations. Show me something. Get people excited.”  

    As one who watches this space with rapt attention, I can certainly concur with Luckett. Time and time again, too many brands and agencies simply do not understand or simply do not care to understand how dramatically things have changed (and continue to change) and how completely different marketing approaches are now required to affect any metric a brand cares about. 

    This is not to say you all suck. Far from it. Change takes time, but you can't go around with your head in the sand and adopt a wait-and-see attitude like the agency president who, in an interview I had in 2003, said to me: "Oh, the Internet. No, it's not really anything we concern ourselves with." I swear that actually happened.

    No one, of course, is saying that anymore -- but there was a time when, you know, this whole "Internet thing" was just some stupid thing those IT geeks screwed around with when they were supposed to be making sure your Lotus Notes worked.

    All of which is to say the "we've always done it that way" attitude will get you nowhere. And companies like TheAudience will be stealing business from you left and right. Of course, you could just do what agencies always do -- promise your client you can do it and then just call TheAudience, pay their fee and take all the credit. At least that would be better than doing nothing at all. And who knows -- you might actually learn something; enough to, you know, realize your agency should be smart enough to provide your clients this kind of service with the ease and panache you display when presenting your latest Flashturbation creation way back in 2005.

  • New WPP Agency Aims to Save Marketers From Big Data Overload

    WPP has launched Gain Theory. It's a new "marketing foresight consultancy," which aims to help brands deal with the explosion of data, predicted to be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. Heading up the new entity is former WPP Maxus CIO Jason Harrison.

    Of the endeavor, Harrison says: “There’s so much more information available about business performance, consumers, what’s happening with marketing campaigns. The expectation is that marketers would be able to digest all that and be able to know what to do next and do that very quickly. That is incredibly complicated.”

    While the entity will be part of WPP's media operation, it will remain independent of media buying. Harrison adds: “The reality is we get the best of both worlds. Because we sit alone as an independent entity, we can bring a point of view to a marketer that’s not connected to any of the decisions that get made about actual tactical executions. We don’t have a dog in that fight… But as well, we can connect to the vast array of tools and assets that live within WPP in a really independent and objective way.”

  • That Art Director That Wears the Same Clothes to Work Every Day is Very Practical

    Don't you wish your simple wardrobe could bring you instant viral fame? If you're Saatchi & Saatchi Art Director Matilda Kahl, you know exactly what this feels like. If you haven't already heard, Matilda wears the same outfit to work every day. And she's been doing so for years.

    Why, you ask? In an interview  with Ad Age, she explains: "The main motivation was that I understood how much time and energy I'd save if I could just take out the clothing aspect of my working days. We have so many great creative challenges at Saatchi that I'd rather spend my time on that, not picking out a new outfit every morning."

    Hmm, sounds very guy-like. Also very practical. Why waste your time trying to be creative with your clothing when you can direct all that energy toward being creative at work?

    Matilda adds: "Before I had a uniform, I re-evaluated my outfit throughout the day, wondering if what I was wearing really did a good job of reflecting me as the creative I want to be. Now, when I have an outfit that I once picked out and that I'm happy with, I can lay all my good energy on my work instead. To only be judged on my creative ability at work and not how well I dress really is a real confidence boost."
  • Mobile App Makes It Really Easy For Creatives to Obsess Over Festival Art

    And so every advertising type over in Sweden is jonesing. For what, you ask? For Stockholm  Art Week, of course. It's a week-long event at which art of all kinds is celebrated.

    Helping to promote the week is M&C Saatchi Stockholm which has launched "Stockholm Is Your Canvas." It's a campaign that urges people to download an app and use it to submit artwork of their choosing and have it projected on an "augmented reality wall" at The Theil Gallery.

    In addition, the agency has placed Stockholm Art Week stickers around the city, which are used to activate the app and display various pieces of Art Week art on one's phone. It's a creative person's dream, really. Don't you wish you were in Stockholm this week?
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