Agency Brief: Small shops wanting to stand out are advertising themselves
First, we heard from our former editor-in-chief, Rance Crain, who passes along some sad news.
He writes: “Some of you old timers out there will remember Dean Fritchen, who in his heyday in the ‘60s and ‘70s had quite 'a kick of the can,' as he liked to say. Dean passed away peacefully on the morning of Nov. 8 in Orlando FL. at the age of 91. Dean had tours of duty at Madison Square Garden, Metromedia and the Advertising Council, which is where I got to know him. He was a guy who had many friends in the ad business in New York, and he worked diligently to promote the value of the Ad Council’s public service ads like Smokey Bear, who brought home the idea that 'only you can prevent forest fires.' In my role when I was editor-in-chief of Ad Age, Dean and I shared lots of interesting words about the state of the ad business back in its rip-roaring days."
Indies ramp up advertising—for themselves
Small and independent agencies who are having their “moment” in the pandemic as brands increasingly seek them out for their speedy and nimble models, are starting to heed the advice they’ve given clients tirelessly: advertising matters. The longstanding irony in the agency world is that while shops are all over promoting their clients, they fail to do so for themselves. In September, independent agency Human Intelligence broke from the pack and debuted its first campaign touting itself and the benefits of working with a shop of its size over a holding company. Now, as holding companies seem to move in directions that place less emphasis on their own brands (Dentsu said it would reduce the number of agency brands it has from 160 to just six and WPP continued to consolidate its shops, folding Grey into AKQA and Geometry into VMLY&R), indies are doubling down on their own.
For example, The Variable says as it moves “past surviving” and “back to thriving,” it’s launching the “Year to Forget Event,” a Black Friday-esque campaign promoting “stupid savings” from the agency. Deals include 50% off creative concept development and 40% off “innovation sprint sessions.” And as any good retailer does during the holiday season, the agency is running a series of spots promoting these deals across LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. In the below ad, “The World’s Greatest Marketing Director” wakes up on Christmas morning to a big red bow leading her to the driveway, where viewers might presume a brand new car awaits. Instead, it’s a bundle of creatives, i.e. her brand new ad agency.
Meanwhile Hanson Dodge out of Milwaukee is promoting its “Make Great Leaps” platform—touting the agency for “helping good people and brands to make the next great leap”—in a series of ads on its various social channels, as well as on Ad Age’s website. The independent shop says the campaign, which targets clients as well as talent, is proof that it’s “putting its money where its mouth is and following the same advice it gives to clients … advertise.” The series of ads, like the one below, shows daredevil kids doing various stunts and asks: “Is your agency partner doing this for you?”
As agencies work to diversify their ranks, many have committed to leveling the playing field and breaking down barriers in the hiring and recruitment process for people from underrepresented communities. As a first step in that commitment, several agencies have recently launched scholarships for diverse college students and aspiring ad professionals.
Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital announced a fellowship program, through which it’s seeking U.S. graduates from Black colleges and universities “who boldly question the status quo and rip up the rulebook when confronted with challenges.” The four-year program will offer fellows “an in-depth look at the work S4 Capital does,” apprenticeships with one of the company’s eight global leaders and opportunities to work on live client assignments.
Deutsch New York partnered with the School of Visual Arts to launch Fund the Change, a scholarship that will award two incoming freshman students in the BFA Design or BFA Advertising programs each $10,000 per year, totaling $40,000 per student. Fund the Change will also provide its recipients, from underrepresented backgrounds, year-round mentorship opportunities and paid summer internships at Deutsch New York, the agency says. The deadline to apply is Feb. 1.
Austin Williams, a full-service agency, teamed up with Molloy College and St. Joseph’s College to create a new scholarship program for students of color. Once implemented, it will cover the $100,000 four-year tuition cost for eight students at either college. The program will also provide those students with paid internships at Austin Williams in their junior and senior years.
Various shops are also supporting Cohort:One, a six-week training program for aspiring ad professionals that gives 12 fellows, identifying as LGBTQ or BIPOC, each $4,100 stipends to participate. The program was started by Heidi Hackemer, founder of Zwolf Strategy and the North American creative director for Oatly, and is supported by shops like The Many, Omelet, Virtue, Anomaly, Oberland, Droga5 and Leo Burnett Chicago, whose leaders will help develop the educational programming.
“As a business, we aim to represent the communities we live in and encourage a diverse approach in everything we do,” says Sorrell, founder and executive chairman of S4. Deutsch New York CEO Val DiFebo comments: “Our mission is simple: to straighten our industry by investing in future leaders who come from historically underrepresented backgrounds.”
Jimmy John’s chose Anomaly as its new lead creative agency following a review managed by Joanne Davis Consulting, launched earlier this year. The MDC Partners-owned shop takes the business from independent agency Work In Progress, which in its time serving the company brokered what Ad Age called “one of the most obvious celebrity endorsements of all time,” i.e. a Lil Jon-inspired sandwich called Little John. Apparently the rapper is a fan of the fast food restaurant’s “freaky fresh” sandwiches.
Anomaly expects to debut its new work for the brand in early 2021. According to COMvergence estimates, Jimmy John’s spent $28 million on measured media in the U.S. last year. The agency shift follows Jimmy John’s appointing a new chief marketing officer, Darin Dugan, in March.
“We met with fantastic agency teams during our search and were impressed by the vision, acumen and personal chemistry that they all brought to the table,” Dugan comments. “Ultimately, our decision came down to Anomaly’s ambition for the brand and creative. It’s not only breakthrough, but incredibly brave. And that’s the kind of partner we’re looking for.”
Drink in another win
Canvas Worldwide was appointed U.S. media agency of record for The Lagunitas Brewing Co. The independent agency will handle all media communications, planning and activation duties for the U.S. under the partnership. Canvas says it expects to launch its first campaign for the Petaluma, California-based brewer in December. The account will be led out of the shop's Los Angeles office.
Lagunitas Chief Marketing Officer Paige Guzman says the company is “looking forward to working with [the agency] to tell the story of Lagunitas and our IPAs to a wide range of new audiences.” According to COMvergence estimates, Lagunitas spent just under $1 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2019.
Barbarian won the global digital account for Galderma-owned skincare brand Cetaphil. The agency will be tasked with implementing a new global strategy for Cetaphil, which will include streamlining its website, social presence and retailer activity. The win follows a competitive pitch that kicked off in July.
PMG hired Dallas-based Kyle Kelley and Andrew Harper as executive creative directors. They come from the embattled The Richards Group, which has been losing clients after a racist remark made by founder Stan Richards was surfaced from an internal ad review. Both execs had clocked in more than 10 years with The Richards Group and most recently served as creative group heads. Harper worked on accounts like Dr Pepper, A&W Root Beer, Ulta Beauty and AAA. Kelley was behind campaigns for Go RVing, GameStop and Dr Pepper.
Seen Group, a specialty beauty agency based in the U.K., promoted Jane Walsh to CEO of its global group business. Previously managing director of the agency, Walsh is credited with a “recent remodeling of the business” that has expanded it from a creative to a full-service shop with capabilities spanning brand development, strategic analysis and integrated media buying. Before joining Seen in 2012, Walsh spent time at Estée Lauder and L’Oréal.
360i poached Devon Hong from 72andSunny to be its newest executive creative director in New York. Hong will be responsible for driving innovation and creative across all of the Dentsu agency’s clients, which include Oreo, 7-Eleven and Boston Beer Co. Hong was a group creative director in New York for 72andSunny previously, where he worked across accounts like Etsy, Spotify, Smirnoff and Cheerios. 72andSunny, meanwhile, appointed three new group creative directors: Ida Gronblom, Lauren Smith and Maite Albuquerque.