Jeff Goodby, Andy Berlin and Rich Silverstein launched Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein in 1983 in San Francisco with a single client: Electronic Arts. After landing the Oakland Invaders United States Football League team—the league failed, but the agency's spots brought it notice—other accounts followed. William Randolph Hearst III heard a speech delivered by Mr. Goodby about the ad effort for the Invaders and hired the new agency to work for the San Francisco Examiner.
The agency's big break, however, came when it won the $10 million Royal Viking Cruise Line account, almost all of it print advertising. It also won American Isuzu Motors, helping launch the automaker's sport-utility vehicles. For Sega of America, Goodby devised the signature "Sega!" scream.
Acquired by Omnicom
In 1992, the Omnicom Group acquired Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, and Mr. Berlin left the shop to manage a turnaround team at Omnicom's DDB Needham New York flagship office.
In 1994, the renamed Goodby, Silverstein & Partners developed the "Got milk?" campaign for the California Milk Processor Board, which later took the spots national. In late 1996, the agency leveraged Hewlett-Packard Co.'s reputation for engineering excellence in its first TV spots for H-P's imaging division. Humorous spots for color printers and copiers used the theme "Built by engineers. Used by normal people." When H-P decided to streamline internally and create a single corporatewide brand, it awarded the account to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which created the $200 million "Invent" campaign for H-P in 1999.
That same year, Goodby won the E*Trade account, debuting a $150 million campaign later that year. The effort garnered Goodby a Clio Award. Earlier in 1999, Goodby created TV spots for both Cracker Jack and Anheuser-Busch that debuted on Super Bowl XXXIII.
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners also tallied its share of losses. In January 1998, the agency lost the Porsche Cars North America account, which it had won five years earlier. In 1999, the agency lost a showcase client in Nike, which moved its women's and apparel business from Goodby. On balance, however, Goodby won the $80 million Discover Financial Services account in 1999, beating out Leo Burnett USA.
In 1999, the agency reported one-third of its billings in technology-related accounts, a 50% increase over the previous year. With H-P, E*Trade, eBay and Sirius Satellite Radio among its clients, Goodby was strong in technology-related business. In July 2000, the agency launched a national humor campaign to build brand awareness and educate consumers about TiVo's personal TV service.
The dot-com bust
But the collapse of the dot-com sector in 2000 was a bad omen for agencies whose client lists were heavily tech-oriented. In September 2001, Sirius moved its account from Goodby to McCann-Erickson WorldGroup without launching a national branding campaign while at Goodby; in 1999, its account was estimated to be worth $100 million.
Goodby rebounded from the dot-com bust with accounts from traditional business sectors. In 2002, Goodby won the $300 million General Motors Corp.’s Saturn account following a hard-fought pitch against Hal Riney, then at Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney. Mr. Riney had been mentor to founders Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein, and the man who created the integrated "Different kind of company, different kind of car" Saturn brand.
By the time the shop celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2003, clients such as Anheuser-Busch rounded out the shop’s roster. The shop produced a ground-breaking "+" campaign for Hewlett-Packard and cracked into a long-sought-after Bay Area client, Gap Inc., which awarded the agency work for its Banana Republic brand.
On the creative front, Goodby shored up its leadership with the addition of Jamie Barrett to head the Saturn account and the elevation of Steve Simpson to head HP creative.
In 2003, the agency had $39.7 million in U.S. revenue, a 3.9% increase from 2002, according to Advertising Age.