Agency, Heal Thyself?

To Reinvent, Shop Harks Back to Past

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Why One Ad Agency Hired an Ad Agency

Campbell-Mithun tapping an outside agency to market Campbell-Mithun was sufficiently unusual that we thought we'd ask the experts whether they believe it will work or fall flat.

Judy Neer, president, Pile & Co.
"I can't recall another agency doing it, but it seems like a good idea. Agencies always admit they are their own worst marketers. And if you're trying to re-energize what the world -- and your own people -- think of you, that's a good thing. But it has to go deeper than logos and mantras. The proof will be in the work and in the cases."
Judy Neer
Judy Neer

Dave Beals, president, Jones Lundin Beals
"I think it's smart for an agency to bring in outside help. It's the shoemaker's kid's syndrome. You work so hard on other people's brands that you're left with precious little time to figure out your own marketing needs. One of the reasons people hire agencies is they want a third party's perspective on their brand, and, even for an agency, there's value in having that third party come in and help adjust the brand. ... My sense is that agencies can evolve and change their brands to a degree, but it has to be consistent with their core values."

Joanne Davis, founder, Joanne Davis Consulting
"I wouldn't say agencies neglect their brands, but most don't focus on them in the way they would a client's brand. They should treat [their own brand] as the most important one they work on, because if it suffers, nobody will come to you with any other brands to work on, either. ... In general, the smaller agencies are better at this. It's harder for the bigger agencies because they have bigger clients with bigger brands to work on. But some of them, it's like: What are they doing?"
Dave Beals
Dave Beals

Abbott C. Jones, managing director, Admedia Partners Investment Bank
"If you reinvent the wheel too much, the wheel can fall off. For better or worse, you are what you are, and the best way to change perceptions is to do really good campaigns. If you want to enhance that with new logos, that's fine, but you have to be very careful because brand names are agencies' source of goodwill with clients and prospects. There are risks if you try to make changes."

To Reinvent, Shop Harks Back to Past

Branding on the wall: Murals representing Campbell-Mithun's 'Seven Tenets'
Click to see larger image
Campbell-Mithun worked with branding firm Cue to develop "Seven Tenets" that made the agency unique. The tenets -- derived from quotes from founder Ray Mithun -- are incorporated throughout the agency's office in a series of murals and in its revamped communications materials.

  1. In deep: "We are not just here to make ads, to follow the line of least resistance, but to study the product or service, to improve it if possible and to help position it properly in the marketplace."
  2. Centered: "A culture that influences our behavior, which is honest and hardworking."
  3. Compass: "The agency is full of compasses. That's what this business is all about -- to help our clients find their way."
  4. Courage: "If 13 is unlucky for someone, it must be lucky for someone else. We decided, at the start of our business life, to be someone else."
  5. Create: "It is our job to help with pioneering ideas, to solve problems in a creative manner."
  6. Smart army: "No one ever stands alone. No one creates alone. We all depend on one another -- on the team."
  7. Passion: "The spirit -- what a man or woman believes -- is the most important thing about a person."
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