Mining for Gold

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Where do ads go when they die? If they were part of a successful national campaign, they go to American pop culture heaven, joining Spuds McKenzie, Max Headroom and, eventually, "Whassup?" Unfortunately, much good creative work doesn't even make it past the client; or, in the case of client approval, runs for only a brief time in a limited market.

A Virginia-based start-up called proposes to change that, looking to give many ads a second life. Bill Replogle, CEO, and Wayne Miller, president, have combined their areas of expertise - advertising and business development, respectively - to change the advertising buy-and-sell formula. Their website showcases good advertising that was either never produced or produced locally, and offers the work to new clients for about half the price they would pay for original work. For creatives, Admine offers extra revenue for already-produced or canned creative work. Small businesses, who often have difficulty attracting agency attention with their bite-sized budgets, can use Admine to get professional advertising at bargain basement prices.

Replogle is familiar with the frustration of great creative work that doesn't pan out. The former creative's own portfolio has a few ads-that-got-away - including one for Softspikes, a golf spike that doesn't damage the green. The headline read: "Golf is tough enough. The last thing you need are more pricks on the green." The campaign won an award at a local Addy competition for Best Ad That Never Ran. As a copywriter with Arnold Communications early in his career, Replogle wrote a song for Midas to the tune of "Sounds of Silence." Paul Simon nixed the agency's request to use the song in the spot, so the idea was canned - but Simon did sing the Midas version on Letterman, with no apologies to Replogle or the muffler king.

Chris Jacobs, CD at Cole Henderson Drake, Atlanta, is among the creatives who've submitted work to Admine. He hopes the ads - for a brand of paint and a plastic surgeon, among other clients - will be picked up, but he's not expecting the service to finance early retirement. "I'm not anticipating anything financially," he says. "We're submitting it not in hopes of getting lots of money, but in actually seeing it produced. I think the driving force for most creatives is that the work doesn't just die on your hard drive."

Replogle and Miller acknowledge that there are some disadvantages to the Admine system. When using recycled advertising, the concept and design are not tailored to the needs of each client. "Admine is not attempting to be an ad agency," Miller explains. However, his firm targets certain business lines - hospitals, jewelry stores and banks, for example - that tend to have, in Miller's words, consistent marketing needs across the category. He also points out that regional companies do not require the same kind of branding effort as megaclients like McDonald's or Anheuser-Busch.

In order to jumpstart the volume of submissions, Admine is hosting the Gold Rush awards; there are two $100,000 awards, one chosen by an esteemed panel of judges and the other determined by the results of an online vote. Among the judges are Edward Boches, chief creative officer of Mullen; Michael Dweck, chairman of Dweck; and Jay Chiat. Admine has yet to conduct a single transaction, but the startup has grown to 40 people in nine months, and work is flooding in. Replogle and Miller expect full-scale sales operations to begin in the fall.

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