Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the agency is the brand

Let's talk about the agency brand for a minute.

I have just a little agency-crush on Gyro Worldwide. For one simple reason: They know their brand. Grasse has a reputation for all kinds of stuff (some of it actually quite good) - but foremost, he has the reputation for building brands that, in turn, build his brand.

In fact, Gyro takes it a step further. They've tapped into a market that makes it easy for them to reinforce their value to their clients by attracting other like-minded clients. All of them a little on the edge.

It's been like that from day one. I believe their first client was Zipperhead, a punk store on South Street in Philly. Now they have a collection of brands, some of them actually extensions of the agency (Hendrick's Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum), others (Camel, Puma, Diesel) just brands with their fingers on the pulse of hip (sorry, sorry, over used).

In addition to doing some provocative work for some high-profile brands, Gyro has built this diamond-hard, diamond-shiny brand of their own. And all that glitter attracts like-minded clients. And the cycle continues.

Some would argue that CPB has done this too - their breadth of clients (Method, Virgin, Volkswagen, Burger King) keeps them from being as compact as Gyro. But their consistently ground-breaking work has galvanized them within the industry (which makes recruiting easier), but more importantly (and former creative golden children Weiden Kennedy and Fallon need to take a lesson from this playbook) galvanized several diverse brands.

What other agency has a good brand?

SHS is sure aiming for it. It's hard to pull a Gyro and still remain a humble bunch in Kansas City - but that seems to be exactly what they're doing (and I'm not just saying that because AC recently gave me a link.) I think BBH NY may be on the verge of it, although all their great work still seems more like a one-off success than true cultural movements. And I guess it's that level of depth that really builds your credibility in the industry, in the business, and for all the world. BBH has the advantage of a London birth. And I think London advertising has always been a little more properly embraced. Hopefully Fallon and Wieden can import some of that London greatness and reinvigorate their flagging brands here in the states.


A lot of agencies are doing great work for one or two of their clients. Some are doing great work for most of their clients. But very few are doing great work for all of their clients in a way that reinforces their agency's brand (whatever that may be).

Something to aim for.


Make the logo bigger said...

Good points.

Gotta give Gyro credit for also being real open about working on tobacco. Not many these days would be. It helps too that he's galvanized that local Philly attitude since he hates NYC so much.

As an aside, Fallon did do that way back with their in-house design guru Charles Anderson who did amazing work for Fallon's clients.

(Briefly, he's a great illustrator who later spun off onto his own thing and still 20 years later, does some pretty funky work for the same client: French papers.)

I think as much as anything, it helps to have a brand that will in turn be loyal to the agency as well. How many times do you see brands leave agencies to move on to greener pastures because they got wooed into it, or justified the move by saying the agency we had couldn't take us where we wanted to go.

Gotta laugh at the former. Who the hell got them in a position to be ready for that next level, ya know? That's where brands can do their part.

Stay loyal, take the handcuffs off and let agencies do what they do. Brands might be surprised more.

Only thing on the branded agency angle, gotta be diverse or you can stereotyped as just the 'This' or 'That' agency.

Make the logo bigger said...

(Couldn't fix the comment, lemmee try again)

In the Fallon case, seems like the look of one person's style set the tone for many of the their regional clients, which may be a littel different than your point.

I dunno. This whole Madonna in '08 thing's got me nutz.

carrie said...

Hi from Gyro Worldwide! Thanks for the love in your recent post. Keep up the brilliant observations!