Group VP, The Clorox Co.
Obviously, the best thing about DDB is the people. They exhibit a passion and commitment to our business that makes it hard to differentiate them from our employees. I think there must be something in the water there that puts passion and commitment into their people. I've encountered that in dealing with them since 1982, and it's common among people in their Chicago office, in San Francisco, in their offices around the world. They all seem to be service-oriented and committed to our business.
PASSION FOR BUSINESS
Even if they're dealing with a product most people would consider dull, such as Liquid-Plumbr, they get excited about it and share our passion for the business. They show that they understand everything from our consumer to the chemicals that go into the bottle. Most important, that knowledge shows up in the advertising.
One long-term successful campaign they created was for Pine-Sol. They were our partner on this product from its early days, back in about 1990. With the agency, we established a campaign with a spokeswoman we call Diane, an African-American, who is viewed as a typical Pine-Sol consumer. She connects very well with consumers and has delivered all sorts of messages about Pine-Sol. It's a long-running, very successful campaign for us, and the result is our business is now three or four times the size it was when we began marketing the product.
They've also done a wonderful job on our bleach businesses over the years. For instance, there's a campaign for liquid bleach that has talking bottles, a lot of engagement and humor, yet it delivers a strong message.
Overall, they understand our products, and they focus on what the products do for the consumer. They're not in fairyland in terms of getting excited about some incredible look or unusual music arrangement.
They're focused on what the consumer wants to know, such as that the product has better grease-cutters, or better whiteners or is easier to use. That's what drives our business.
We have the pleasure of working with people at DDB who have been in the business for many years, so they have great experience and enthusiasm about our business. There are many who fit this description, but two I work with are Kenny Dudwick on the creative side and Dan Odishoo [both are managing partners, DDB San Francisco] on the account side.
These are two experienced people who are doing what they love to do, and it shows. Passion is the word I use. These guys call me regularly with comments such as: "We're worried about what's happening with this brand; what do you think of this idea?" Kenny especially is an absolute fountain of ideas.
IDEAS ABOUT BRANDS
Even at lunch, he comes up with half a dozen ideas about our brands. And many of these are well beyond the confines of advertising.
They might be about how to run the business, when a promotion should run, what the packaging should look like. Nothing is off the table. That's what makes it fun to work with them.
This is really about partnership. Our relationship with DDB is more like a marriage than a business relationship. This is a marriage that works well, at lots of different levels, in lots of different places. So we're thrilled to be working with them.
Senior VP-U.S. Marketing,
Excellent creative is DDB's strong suit. Behind every great brand is a great idea, and, for us, many of those great ideas come from DDB and especially from CEO Keith Reinhard. Keith has been involved with our business since the early '70s, and he still is. He wrote the campaign that I think is the best ever written in the category: "You deserve a break today." That marked a defining moment for the industry and for our brand. It was incredibly inspirational, relevant and motivating to our audiences, both within and outside the company. That's the kind of idea that shows DDB is unique in inspiring us to become a legend.
They've also helped us through the difficult transition we've had during the last few years, creating a universal theme around the transition to our "Did somebody say McDonald's?" campaign. They've given us a universality of purpose, a great way to remind people McDonald's has the breadth of appeal no one else in the category has. They've provided a unifying purpose around what our brand stands for. And they will help build our relevance as we move into the future.
DDB seems to have a finger on the pulse of our customers' attitudes as well as those of our operators. That's important, because so much of our brand depends on how our operators perform. When our customers enter our restaurants, they enter our brand.
DDB's staff members have very high standards for themselves. They're never satisfied with "average" anything, and they constantly raise their internal standards.
Among the DDB people who have been especially helpful to us are Dick Rogers [president of agency operations], Don Hoffman [senior VP-group account director], Bob Scarpelli [vice chairman-chief creative officer of DDB Chicago] and Marcia Metzcus [senior VP-director-strategic planning and research]. And we can't say enough about Keith Reinhard. He's available any time we need him and even some times when we don't.
We have a worthy partnership with DDB. We work together to build the business. They know how to build a great brand, to build a brand that has value in the future.
And they are a role model for us on how collaboration works. They're very involved with all of our calendar teams in terms of our processing for future planning and the strategies we use for planning. They start right where we do with our customers and our operators.
We really appreciate their contributions to the growth of our brand and the growth of our business. We look forward to the next millennium being as good as the last one.
State Farm Insurance Cos.
Ddb is the only agency we've ever had. Over 60 years, we've established a real kinship, a close working relationship between our top management and their top management. Their CEO, Keith Reinhard, worked on our account all the way back to the late '60s, and that has been a very stabilizing factor. He and our previous CEO, Ed Rust Sr., and our current CEO, Ed Rust Jr., solidified the relationship. To this day, I think Keith maintains a fervent feeling for State Farm . . . and the feeling is mutual.
The agency's understanding of our values and our culture has cemented the relationship. Also they understand our marketplace and how to deal with our customers.
UNDERSTAND STATE FARM
The day-to-day working relationships with their account and creative people have been excellent. Currently we work primarily with Jim Cass [VP-creative director] and Rick Fobes [VP-group account director, both DDB Chicago]. But everyone in creative and in the account group seems to understand State Farm agents, how they work and how they think. Overall, the main thing about our relationship is the comfort level, the kinship.
From a professional standpoint, creativity is one of their strengths. You can go back all the way to 1971 when they created the theme: "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." Keith played an integral role in developing that. And for us, that's more than a theme line: it's our way of doing business.
The creative work that flows out of that statement of our values has become part of our culture. Their creative brings that to life, forming a connection with our customers. It's become the root of company over the years.
Even prior to the Good Neighbor theme, back in the 1960s, DDB developed an ad called "Egg on Wheels" that demonstrated our careful handling of State Farm policyholders involved in car accidents. That was another creative effort that won several awards.
There also was a very simple idea that may stand as most talked-about, most-recalled automotive ad in our history: It was a commercial from the late '60s called "Indestructible." It opened with our logo, which slowly crumpled as you heard the sounds of a car crash. Then you heard hammers pounding, and the logo started to come back into shape. You heard the sounds of sanding and spraying, and the logo eventually came back looking perfect. The voice-over talked about our tradition of serving the customer, getting your car back to its original condition. That was another award-winner.
Currently, our Life Heroes campaign is running. In this print, radio and TV campaign we focus on various heroes of the past, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Jackie Robinson. The message: State Farm salutes life heroes because State Farm understands life -- making a link to our life insurance products.
Obviously, they understand our marketplace and how to deal with our customers. We've only had one ad agency over the years, and we're very happy with it.
VP-marketing and brand management, National Railroad Passenger Corp. (Amtrak)
We have a very healthy, strong, long-term relationship with DDB. It goes back 27 years, ever since Amtrak was created. They understand what train ridership is all about. Through their primary research, they've gained a strategic handle on why people ride trains, so they can present the right kinds of messages to convince people to try our service.
We find them exceptionally strong in strategic planning, which is critical for our long-term success. We view them as true partners in terms of figuring out what we need to do to make Amtrak successful.
And, above all, we get outstanding creative from them, and that's the No. 1 reason you select an advertising agency.
For example, they created our new Acela campaign that's provocative and thought-provoking. We're currently conducting a very aggressive pre-campaign to generate awareness of this forthcoming high-speed train for the Northeast Corridor. Through billboards, painted buildings, material in train stations and TV, this campaign is trying to generate a new mindset on the benefits of travel on Amtrak.
Because DDB's research found most people think travel is an interruption in their lives, the campaign talks about benefits that people may get by using the new train. The ads focus on ways you can make good use of your time while riding the train. And the creative makes the viewer stop and think through imaginative, provocative visuals and quirky phrases. In one series of ads for TV, for instance, a confused guy runs around on Wall Street with an electric cord, looking for a place to plug it in. The tagline is "Find a place to recharge. Life on Acela."
The campaign is interesting and unusual, and it's generating a lot of buzz and positive press.
DDB also has created a national marketing campaign that highlights our successful partnerships with organizations such as state governments, the U.S. Postal Service, United Airlines and Hertz. This is a print campaign running in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times and Chicago Tribune. It consists of some very creative work to position Amtrak as a company that's turning the corner toward becoming a profitable business.
So we're very pleased with their strategic thinking, their creative work, their media purchasing. People such as Steve Swanson [group account director] on the account side and Linda Antonelli [group media director] on the media side have done a superb job for us over the years. It's very much a partnership, where we share full information.
Michael H. Holmes
VP-general manager-chocolate, Hershey Foods Corp.
Hershey added DDB as a second agency 21 years ago. Its initial assignments included Kit Kat, Hershey's Syrup and Y&S Twizzlers, and all three of these brands are still assigned to DDB.
In the early '80s, they created the "Gimme a Break" campaign for Kit Kat, which helped drive it to a top 10 candy brand, and the "Messy Marvin" campaign for Hershey's Syrup.
More recently they developed the "Skinny Cows" campaign for the syrup, and they made Twizzlers the candy that "makes mouths happy."
We have always worked in a team environment with DDB, and our meetings focus on a lot of discussion and listening and molding of the advertising, rather than selling and buying of campaign ideas. Because most of the agency people have been on our account for a long time, they understand our background, so we don't have to do a lot of explaining.
This great people-continuity includes people such as Charlie Piccirillo and Tony Romeo [both creative directors], Paul Keppo [group media director], Richard Zeltner [managing director-strategic planning], Patience Fleming [management supervisor] and David Wismer [group account director].
And, nearly since the beginning of our relationship 20 years ago, there has been Peter Tate (now president of the New York office) overseeing the relationship and the work.
DDB's main asset, I feel, is the excellent balance among the account team, the creative people and the media planners. Everyone contributes to the discussion, and this team effort has led to better strategies and better advertising.
One innovative campaign, for example, was their early work for Kit Kat. That series of commercials showed real people doing everyday activities (bicycling, rowing, etc.), who would sing the Kit Kat theme song and hold up the package. Those commercials were so memorable that you can still walk up to people today and ask them to sing the Kit Kat song, and they launch into "Gimme a break, gimme a break . . . ."
The "Messy Marvin" campaign, designed to get kids to make chocolate milk with our syrup, was another noteworthy creative effort. They filmed a series of adventures of a messy kid, and the only time he was neat was when he made chocolate milk with our syrup in a squeeze bottle. This was another tremendously successful campaign.
But after a while, it had made its point, so we went to the "Skinny Cows" campaign for both TV and print ads.
Through the years we've added new assignments such as NutRageous, Cookies 'N' Creme, York Mint, Sweet Escapes, Pot of Gold, Luden's cough drops and, recently, Payday, Classic Caramels and Hershey Bites.
We owe DDB a lot. I hope we can work together for a few more decades, and look forward to creating future successes together.
The best thing about DDB is the people who work on our business, starting with Keith Reinhard. Then there's Bob Scarpelli, who was on the original team that pitched and won our Bud Light account in the early '80s. Also I should mention John Greening [exec VP-managing partner, DDB Chicago], the head account man on our business, who has been with us since 1977, when DDB took on Busch beer. Both of them have watched our business grow.
Now our key creative people are Don Pogany [senior VP-group creative director] and John Immesoete [senior VP-group creative director]. And guiding our Internet work is Steve Jackson [senior VP-group account director]. Of course, these are the just the key people; there are scores of others.
In fact, DDB has been able to maintain a core group of people on our account for some 20 years. And that's very important to a business like ours, which is highly regulated, heavily watched, and which is always being asked to have great creative because we buy a lot of high-profile media. These guys know the demands, the do's and don'ts of beer advertising.
They understand our needs and the pitfalls of beer advertising -- pitfalls such as trying to be too clever or too narrow in your appeal, not raising your image on the radar screens of your critics by putting something irresponsible on the air. These guys are very well tuned to our business, and they're very creative.
I'd say DDB is a creative-driven agency. That's why we have them as partners.
Just look at a campaign that's been running for 20 years: "Head for the mountains of Busch . . . Beer." That's a brilliant campaign. The icon is so strong it's been maintained for two decades. It provides a sub-premium brand with premium beer imagery.
Another good example of DDB's creativity is the whole Bud Light campaign. The original "Gimme a light. No, a Bud Light" approach is the strategy we still use today.
So from a strategic standpoint, we believe DDB is one of the best in the world. They excel at giving us a strategy, then developing great creative against it.
Among the other great work they've done for us, I'd point to the Busch family commercials, which feature August Busch III and August IV. That work clearly gives us a head up on the competition in terms of quality image and heritage. It really underlines what the company stands for.
FUN ON THE SIDE
So they've created irreverent, fun work on the one side, and emotional, heartfelt advertising on the other side. The same guys who are giving us fun, off-the-wall stuff everyone talks about also are giving us good work that is very, very serious. This shows the respect they have and their understanding of our needs.
DDB people are hard-workers, who care as much about our products as we do. Honesty, forthrightness and trust characterize DDB's people, and we enjoy working with them. We don't talk to them as our agency; we talk to them as our partners and friends.