Debutante Agency Breaks MicroSkills Campaign

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A meter maid finds a new calling.
Although Wexley School for Girls launched quietly six months ago, the founders of the Seattle startup agency say now is the time for the shop's coming out party. As for the name, Wexley co-founder Cal McAllister -- a former ACD at Publicis/Seattle -- says it serves as a filter that has allowed he and partner Ian Cohen, formerly of Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, "to present some non-traditional ideas." Which, according to McAllister, is the point.

"At our former agencies, we spent a lot of time concepting things that are not traditionally billable -- we wanted to plan parties and fish fries and things like that -- and it was hard to convince our agencies to do those things, because there was no way to add a mark-up. So those ideas just went away, even if they were the better idea." Earlier this year, the pair created a regional spot for Italian soccer brand Diadora that earned a Bronze Pencil at the One Show among spots with budgets of less than $50,000. But their first full campaign, for San Diego-based technical training company MicroSkills, actually puts some non-traditional ad concepts to work. In addition to a two-spot television campaign -- directed by Omaha's Steven Diller -- in which people are dragged to better careers by a crane, the effort will include actual cranes, tooling around the streets of San Diego with stuffed effigies in tow.

"We're not going to be good at cold calls and we're not going to be good in pitch situations," McAllister concedes, citing the boutique's tiny size. "But we want to work with clients who want to try non-traditional strategies." Currently, Wexley counts Diadora, MicroSkills and the Crystal Mountain Ski Area among its clients, in addition to project work and work for non-profits, which Cohen and McAllister pledge will constitute 30 percent of their workload.

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