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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Prayers = Answered

Not that this is nearly this big deal it would have been when I was, say, 19 and drinking my weight in beer on the average Saturday afternoon.

Still this is comforting. A round of livers for everyone. The applause was audible within a ten mile radius of the Betty Ford clinic.

Mad props to Mke The Logo Bigger, which seems to have its finger on the pulse of things I give a shit about.

I may just start reposting all his stories here.
Rename the blog "yonderponderMTLB"

Still, I like to think I can contribute
Guessing that, like the Tango, a 'farm-raised liver' will, atleast initially, be reserved for the celebrity-rich - a group which is full of candidates.

Is nothing sacred?

I understood Valerie and Eddie.
I understood Jen and Brad.
I understood Lance and Sheryl (and then Lance and Matthew)

But this seemed like such a forever romance.

I think the Hollywood couple is now, officially, extinct.

Expect Reese to write a book on her failed marriage.
Expect Ryan to be seen with Minka Kelly.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Get out of my face, buh-by

Seems folks all over the agency map are scrambling to manufacture content credentials. This week, Adweek has an article (which leads with Dallas agency, Moroch) about the Hollywood caste system laid bare with the advent of branded content production.

Months ago, when CPB started talking about getting into film, and BBH seemed to effortlessly make the jump to TV with Gamekillers, it looked like agencies (good ones, anyway - I'm reserving judgement on Moroch) would just jump right into the fray and start giving Hollywood a run for its money. Atleast it did when we read about it in magazines like Adweek. I mean, C'mon. Who can't come up with a sitcom to go up against The World According to Jim?

Turns out, though, that Hollywood is still holding most of the cards. And while they'll graciously let the wee advertising folk use their production departments, sets, and even celebrities occasionally, the order of clout still goes like this:

Hollywood producers
Hollywood directors
Hollywood A-list actors (Anyone who's starred in the Ocean 11 movies or better)
Hollywood A-minus list producers, directors, and actors
Anyone who's married to one of the above
Anyone who's created or starred in a movie that made more than 10 million
Hollywood B-list (anyone who's been involved in a movie with one of the Coreys)
Sports stars
Porn industry
Hollywood on-set production crew
Cable television
A-List Commercial production (budgets of $2million, pytka, etc)
Commercial production
infommercial production

I may be a little off on the folks at the top, but trust me, the bottom is dead-on accurate.
Kevin Roddy is quoted in the Adweek article:

"When we did Gamekillers, we went in there in the most idiotic way we could have done it," he said. "We developed a treatment and took it to Hollywood. We went into it like a typical agency, with the idea we are going to write it and produce it. [The studio executive] almost kicked me out of his office." He said, "I believe you can make a 30-second commercial. I don't believe you can make a one-hour television program," recalled Roddy. So BBH recruited writers from The Daily Show and sought the help of to get the show on the air.

Pulled from the fire by writers from the Daily Show. That must have been a bitter pill for the creatives over at BBH (whose work I'm highly envious of - I think BBH may be the best agency working in New York.)

Ever dropped the "I'm with the agency" in front of someone like Gwyneth Paltrow? Here's a woman who knows how to let the most rabid fan/stalker down with grace and tact. But the flicker of disappointment that registers on her face when confronted with a glad-handing agency producer lies somewhere between "hide-me" panic and genuine sympathy.

That we eat at the same restaurants is neither here nor there. That we may even engage in brief, albeit stilted conversation with Bruce Willis , washing hands in the bathroom at the Viper room (this happened to a guy I used to work with) does not put us even in the same realm as their make-up artists. They've grown to trust those people in a way that they'd never trust an agency.

Why? Agencies are in it for the client, not the star. No one is less cool than the client. Even a cool client. At the end of the day, branded content isn't about the actors or even the fans. It's about selling a bottle of Axe spray - and that just isn't part of the Hollywood thing.