“In the initial days of working from home, there was a lot of agency talk about the hardships of working from home,” says Cavallo, citing a plethora of grousing social media posts and reports in industry trade publications like Ad Age. “We felt it wasn’t the right time to talk about difficulties, but to lean into the client.”
This proactive approach allowed the agency to remotely produce work for 88 percent of its clients, the agency says—a feat considering that many brands have decreased marketing efforts or gone dark entirely during this crisis. To date, The Martin Agency has produced 20 ads for 11 clients, with 11 more spots in progress across eight brands. Out of all of its 18 clients, only two have not yet engaged the agency for a campaign during this time.
“In any six-week period, that is a Herculean effort,” Cavallo says. “I can’t tell you how proud and inspired I am of this company. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
And during a time when many hard-hit clients are cutting agency compensation, Cavallo says that not only have "a number of" Martin's clients held their fees, some have even increased compensation to the agency since the pandemic began.
Even so, The Martin Agency has realigned staffing in certain areas of the business, such as in production, due to the lack of shoots going on right now, and reallocated positions to other areas. But the agency says it has not gone through the type of layoffs that have hit a number of other shops. An agency spokesperson said: "We've pulled back in areas like production to heavy up in PR, animation, digital and strategy. We've cut some roles, hired others and have some open roles," according to The Martin Agency.
Leaning into clients
After sending emails out to all of its clients that fateful Friday the 13th, Cavallo says DoorDash, for which The Martin Agency won lead creative duties in August 2019, “was the first one to bite.”
Cavallo says conversations began with DoorDash the following day, and the agency sent 35 creative ideas to the company on the next day, a Sunday. By Tuesday, March 17, the final idea was locked in and the agency had an integrated campaign in market on Friday, March 20—one week after those initial emails landed in clients’ inboxes.
“We briefed Martin on March 14, right after the NBA had closed and Tom Hanks had announced he had COVID," says Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, VP of marketing at DoorDash. "Six days later we had a completely integrated campaign up on all channels: TV, online, digital, influencers, partnerships. The ability for The Martin Agency to turn that around in six days is extraordinary.”
DoorDash’s campaign highlighted the many restaurants open for delivery and featured local eateries as well as big U.S. chains like Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, The Cheesecake Factory, Chick-fil-A, Chili’s and Cracker Barrel, among plenty others. The campaign included a 30-second TV spot, “There For You,” and an #OpenForDelivery site aimed at promoting the various delivery options available to consumers during this time. A tweet promoting the campaign even tagged rivals Uber Eats, Postmates, Grubhub and Caviar, “or wherever your go-to happens to be!”