Martin Agency

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2004 Rating: 3 stars

The essence: When it comes to creating ads that infiltrate the popular culture, not many do it better than this Richmond, Va.-based agency. In 2004, Martin Agency followed the strangely appealing Geico Corp. spots with the just plain strange (and short-lived) "Spong Monkey" campaign for sandwich chain Quizno's. Despite a strong creative profile, the Interpublic Group of Cos. shop has been less successful on the new-business front, failing to add any major new accounts while coming up short on the Subaru of America pitch.

Net growth: Martin did work for Miller Brewing Co., America Online and Viacom's Spike TV, but ended the year without any major new accounts. The agency picked up JPMorgan Chase's retail business in January, but the account went into review following the BankOne merger. Martin ended the year by parting ways with Quizno's.

management: There were few changes in senior management, with the exception of last August when Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide North America hired Chris Shumaker, director of business development at Martin, as exec VP-director of development.

Creative quality and effectiveness: The Spong Monkeys enjoyed a short, happy, buzz-creating life until they were dumped by Quizno's for creative that was more menu-oriented. And Martin helped kick off the Beer Wars with spots for Miller Brewing Co. depicting a woman dumping the King of Beers for its main rival. Martin's work for Geico increased rate quotes and new business.