Chris Mumford, SVP Group Account Director from the Martin Agency, visited Nashville this week to chat with the gang from AAF Nashville. For those that are not familiar with the Martin Agency, they’ve been quite successful. The claimed the spotlight many years ago by creating the “Virginia’s For Lovers” ad campaign.
Today they claim client relationshps with Wal-Mart, Discover, Pizza Hut, and GEICO. Chris was in town sharing the GEICO ad campaign success secrets. Of course he showed some behind-the-scenes footage of the famous ad clips and how they were created. Good stuff. Naturally everyone wanted to know how Martin creates such great work over and over. Interestingly, the one thing he said trumps everything is having a great client. What makes a gerat client in the eyes of last year’s Adweek Ad Agency fo the Year? Chris revealed the key factors according to the Martin Agency.
A great client does the following:
Understands his/her business and the role marketing plays in it.
Has a seat at the table – This is big. It makes the difference in an agency’s ability to sell to the very top without countless rounds of revisions.
Values long term partnerships – GEICO has been a client of Martin for 16 years. Their PR agency is a 17 year partner.
Ain’t afraid to take a risk – If you’ve seen the GEICO spots you understand this point.
Doesn’t sweat the small stuff – if you spend too much time worrying about all the litle details 9whcih is what you pay others to do) then you’ll lose site of the big picture and what you’re really trying to accomplish. GEICO has moved from #10 in insurance to #3 in the past 10-15 years. I think they get it.
Likes to have fun – Cavemen. Kash the stack of dollar bills. A gecko for a spokesperson.
Good stuff all around. Thanks Chris Mumford and Martin Agency for sharing.
Nashville. Music City. No doubt known for its amazing music industry talents. But are you aware how much this same creative vibe penetrates the local marketing & commercial design scene? I was hanging at an annual AAF Nashville awards event recently and looked around the room at the various suspects that have created some pretty stellar advertising and marketing success stories. Here’s a random list of cool stuff that has come from the creative juices of Music City –
1. The sound design of the Budweiser frogs. Yep. Bud. Wise. Errrrr…. came from here.
2. The Cracker Barrel logo was designed by Bill Holley of The Buntin Group. That mark has become simply Iconic.
3. This year’s Silver medalist recipient was Thomas Ferrell, co-creator of the comedic character Ernest P. Worrell and his sidekick Vern. After thousands of commercials, the actor & his character went on to do several Ernest movies (know whatta mean Vern?).
4. Hatch Show print, one of America’s oldest working letterpress shops and creator of the famous posters people have seen all over the world for such legendary artists as Elvis, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash.
5. The AAF Student Addy Awards is America’s largest creative showcase of aspiring student ad dudes and dudettes. More national winners came out of Nashville than anywhere else in the country. Too cool. We’re #1. Yeah baby.
6. Super Bowl advertising is as big as it gets. Not only did the Bud Frogs launch with the Super Bowl, but recent big winners have been Bridgestone tires. Yep, they’re based right here in Nashville. Score.
7. The Flood. The Nashville creative community came out in full-force to do their share in the efforts of cleaning up and rasing money for recovery. Series of posters from artists all over Nashville were created in impressive numbers. Check it out- Advocate Marketing & Print
There are more. Local agencies are continuing to bring in talent from national shops. Headquarters of major marketers such as Nissan are starting to flock to Nashville. Why? We ooze creative talent. After all, isn’t advertising and marketing just telling a story. And no one tells stories better than Music City.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky is hot! Real hot! They were recently named Advertising Age’s 2008 Agency of the Year to no one’s surprise. Unless you live under a rock, you’ve seen their work. They’ve been Burger King’s agency for the past several years and received some strong attention with their recent “Whopper Virgins” campaign and “sacrifice-a-friend” Facebook application. They have also recently produced work for Microsoft (Bill Gates & Jerry Seinfield), Volkswagon and Coke Zero (they were responsible for the Mean Joe green re-make in this year’s Super Bowl).
Recently, I had the opportunity to have dinner with one of CP+B’s Creative Director’s Ryan Kutscher, who works on the Burger King account. This was an opportunity to learn the magic of CP+B! I could take this knowledge, bottle it up and sell to the millions of advertising geeks looking to become famous over their big idea for marketing toilet paper. But before I reveal the CP+B secret, let me briefly describe Ryan Kutscher.
Simply put, Ryan is the rock star we all want to be. I picked him up at the Nashville International Airport. He was waiting for me in baggage claim when I arrived. He wore giant dark shades – the kind that cover up your entire face. Designer blue jeans with a huge belt buckle probably emblazoned with his latest creative award and some cool t-shirt that implicitly said, “I am one cool dude!” He stood well over 6 feet tall and carried the frame of a competitive body builder. Needless to say I was impressed. He fit the stereotype of the ad world’s idea of a well-known agency creative director.
So back to dinner and my quest to learn the secret sauce of advertising greatness. I could practically smell the money I would make from the many speaking engagements and books deals that would soon follow. After a delicious coffee cured steak from Stoney River (if you haven’t had this you must try it) which Ryan and I both ate (no we didn’t share it), it was time to drink a glass of red wine and talk shop. No more waiting. Here it goes. “Ryan, what’s the secret at Crispin? How do you guys do what you do? How do you continue to do great work and get more big name clients?“
Ryan didn’t hesitate to answer. After all, it was engrained in his skull from years of Crispin training. “Man, I think some of it was being lucky.”
“Lucky?” I gasped. “Surely you guys have a Whopper-like special formula for creative success?”
Ryan kept the discussion pretty simple. To paraphrase, he said something like this, “To some extent I think the agency had a bit of luck in finding the right clients at the right time. Maybe that was one hundred percent planned. Not sure. I wasn’t there. What I do know is that the agency got an opportunity with TRUTH, and it turned out to be a great fit. The result was some really great work. Creatively, strategically and tactically it was really successful, really smart, and really different. That sort of began this momentum. MINI again just seemed to really click with the style of the agency. I’m not sure you can ever really know that’s going to happen like that. That’s why I say luck. And then there was BK, who I’ve been told, was widely considered one of the worst clients in advertising. Which is hard to believe, because I do have experience working with them. It was the first client I worked on, and now about 5 years later I can tell you, they’ve got to be one of the best. Luck again? Not sure. But, I think there was a little good fortune there.”
So that’s the secret sauce? A little luck? Wait a second. Perhaps the secret sauce is not a process. Perhaps it’s just a firm stance to be different and sometimes bold, regardless of the size of budget or how well known the client name is now. Anyone can create water cooler chatter over a Super Bowl spot for Budweiser using millions on production costs. Tomorrow’s rock stars are going to be made by the assignments and clients waiting to be popularized just like the Truth campaign. After all, that’s why they hire an advertising agency. Making them famous and creating fans are part of the job.
To end this blog, thanks Ryan. You taught me well and saved me from the embarrassment of buying an entire new wardrobe. I don’t need rock star jeans, cool shades or bulging muscles. I honestly don’t think they would have the same affect on me. Instead I’ll apply what we’ve all learned and relearned every few years as we watch another small agency rise to rock star status.
1. Do great work for our existing clients – NOW – using whatever budgets they give you. No excuses.
2. Push your clients to be unconventional in their approach to marketing. Big ideas that do this are why they are pay us.
3. Be willing to tell a prospect no if they are not willing to do #2.
I’m still buying a belt buckle.