An agency is in stealth mode! Or at least they were. But wait. An agency in stealth mode? We thought only tech startups had a stealth mode. Anyway, what do we know? We're just a journalist.
Speaking of journalists -- or rather, stealth mode agencies (or both) -- Ready State, a just-out-of-stealth mode ad agency has hired Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Worthen to join the
agency's team of "trained reporters who are fusing journalism and content marketing." Fusing journalism and content? WTF. Only an ad agency could coin a phrase like that. And only an agency could
actually say, "We want to be the first marketing agency to help a brand win a Pulitzer." Well, hell, can a journalist win a Lion? Because we'd sure as hell love to go Cannes and pick one up!
Why is no one comparing that GoDaddy ad, which featured Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits in a bakery, to that Cannes Lions-winning Epic Split ad for Volvo? Yeah, sure -- Van Damme's bakery split is far less epic but it's a hell of a lot more real. And why isn't GoDaddy screaming copycat? Maybe it's all moot. Maybe GoDaddy was too busy selecting a new ad agency to notice. Yeah, the brand has hired Barton F. Graf 9000 as its new agency. Which is probably a good thing. Barton F. Graf 9000 and the craziness it's displayed in its work for Little Caesars appears to be the perfect match for GoDaddy's apparent penchant for kookiness. New work will debut in September. And in a quote from an ad agency exec that is less about platitudes and more about stuff that matters, Barton F. Graf 9000 CEO Gerry Graf said: “GoDaddy is an iconic brand, which makes this an exciting challenge, and really, our team is much like a GoDaddy customer because we are a small agency with big ideas. GoDaddy has some innovative tools to help people who own their own business. I know this because I own my own business and I use GoDaddy’s tools. We're going to let everybody else in the world in on this.” Hmm. Is he also a member of Hair Club For Men?
Aiming to bolster its digital offerings, Publicis Groupe has acquired e-business consulting firm Crown Partners. No one is saying for how much, but the acquisition will become part of Publicis Groupe's Razorfish unit -- which it seems needs all the help it can get these days. Of the acquisition, Razorfish CEO Pete Stein said: “One of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the last five years is technology platforms are playing a bigger and bigger role in this transformation. It can be a huge enabler in helping clients go to market differently but also transform the way they deliver products and services.” That's about as clear as Razorfish co-founders explaining what they did back in the dot-com era -- but hey, what do you actually expect from an agency CEO? Everything's all roses all the time.
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 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.”
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.
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.”