Muhtayzik Hoffer is getting some new initials.
The eight-year-old San Francisco-based shop, which was acquired by VCCP in 2016 amid the U.K. agency's efforts to create a global challenger network, is ditching the phonetic spellings (Muh-tay-zik Hof-fer) of its founders' tough-to-spell last names — John Matejczyk and Matt Hofherr — and adding four from VCCP. (For what it's worth, that stands for Vallance Carruthers Coleman Priest).
The original spelling was supposed to make things a little easier. But, Matejczyk points out, clients have a hard time typing it, people have a hard time pronouncing it, and publications like Ad Age refused to format it to the agency's preferred style broken up by syllable. More importantly, the agency said it felt a need to more clearly communicate its affiliation with VCCP and the global resources the relationship brings for clients and prospective clients.
The shop said it used the name while pitching Shell earlier this year in a bid to indicate the agency is a full service U.S. shop rather than a small outpost of a London agency, says Matejczyk. M/H VCCP recently won creative assignments for Pennzoil and Quaker State as a result of the pitch. Plus, "It happens to be quite a bit easier to say," he says (see video below provided by the agency.)
M/H VCCP also works with clients like T-Mobile, Audi and AAA.
Matejczyk says he knew the "alphabet soup" commentary might come — but remarks that "really, really great agencies have done similar things." He adds: "The test of the thing really is the work that you do together."
This is just the latest in the ultra-alphabetization of agency names: WPP merged VML and Y&R in September to become VMLY&R, joining the ranks of other many-lettered agency names like AMV BBDO or MullenLowe SSP3. Once upon a time there was also a RKCR/Y&R, but that's since rebranded as Y&R London.
Those strings of letters do make things a little tricky to shorten, says Jay Jurisich, CEO and creative director of naming and branding agency Zinzin.
"Most brands with long, boring names usually get shortened — like how Federal Express was shortened to FedEx, or America Online to AOL," he says via email. "But if have already reduced your long name to an acronym, you've got nowhere to go, and you then merge with another such acronym company, then it's just a clustercuss, as they said in the film of The Fantastic Mr. Fox."
But Greg Paull, principal at R3 Worldwide, says the name change makes a lot of sense.
"Despite the unique name and profile, the reality is that VCCP's global clients are looking for the consistency in terms of approach, innovation and insights," he says. "To become a truly exceptional micro-network , it was inevitable that some of these acquisitions align for the greater good."