SVP/Group Planning Director Matt Mattox in Campaign

July 25, 2017

Strategy too left-brained? Planner, heal thyself. 

by Matt Mattox | Campaign US | July 06, 2017

The Martin Agency's svp/group planning director makes the case for using both sides of your brain.

There’s a seductive enemy among us — certainty. Actually, it’s the illusion of certainty we’ve inappropriately bestowed upon data (big, small, fast, slow).

For the record, I’m not a data hater. As a planner, I love data. Data is rightly and unquestionably critical to what we do, and will only become more so. But I believe data needs to be put in its rightful place. It’s an input, not a panacea. The key to our past and future success as planners (as well as quants) stems from our creativity.

Sir John Hegarty has commented on the topic of data and its relationship to creatives. But I believe data seduction is an even more dangerous enemy for strategists. Especially now that "big data" has made the transition from next-big-thing to a given. 


You’ve heard it before, and it’s true: strategists/planners need to be both right- and left-brained. (Right being the creative side; left, the logical.) Planners need both sides to come up with single-minded messages, ideas and strategies that are inspiring and born from fresh insight. Single-minded messages, ideas and strategies that are clear and supported.

So what’s the problem? Shouldn’t more data mean we have more tools at our left brain’s disposal than ever before? More information to dig into? Yep. But at the same time, I’m not confident our success rate at developing remarkable strategies is increasing. I actually wonder if it’s decreasing. How could this be?

I think the problem is, well, us. 

We’re letting data get the better of us. We’re letting it affect how we think. We’re letting it consciously, and even more dangerous, subconsciously, make us more (and too) heavily left-brained.

We’re placing too much emphasis on synthesis and too little on provocation.

Too much on clarifying and too little on questioning.

Too much on reductionism and too little on possibilities.  

Too much on information and too little on imagination.

Too much on accuracy and too little on awesomeness. 

Too much on left-brain thinking and too little on right-brain thinking.

What makes this so tricky is that the increased availability and ability to manipulate data has actually made that hemisphere more vital than ever. So we can’t and shouldn’t just excise left-brain thinking. Unfortunately, it comes down to something much more difficult and delicate — constantly looking in the mirror and keeping ourselves honest.

And like a frog in a warming pot of water, if we’re not actively self-aware, we won’t notice our rational brain invisibly killing our most creative thinking (or the ideas of those around us). It’s this unnoticed, uncontested, inner threat to our creativity that scares me most.  

I wonder what would happen if more of us (brand planners, UX planners, media planners, engagement planners, comms planners, data scientists, quants, whatever your flavor of strategy) consciously led with our right brain, and not our left. 

If we listened more to our heart. Took more leaps of faith. Swung more freely. And made a point to convince others through our conviction in addition to our logic. I believe we’d be the planners we want to be more often. We’d be the correctly balanced planners our teams and clients want us to be.  

Yes, we need to be right- and left-brained. But you’ll be a better planner when you make the conscious commitment to use your left-brain powers in service of your right. 

You’ll know you’re on the right track when your ideas make you and those around you excited and nervous. If you’re not seeing or feeling this, flex the right side of your brain. Quick. It will make what you do more rewarding, more valuable, more impactful, more fun. 

As my CSO and friend Earl Cox has said, at its heart, planning is about taking informed leaps. Don’t let the see-it-to-believe-it cautiousness of left-brain thinking keep you from leaving the ground. And beware of the insidiously warming water that can cook away your creativity. Lead with your right brain. Your left will follow — helping you both take off, and land, smartly.

Matt Mattox is svp/group planning director at The Martin Agency in Richmond, Virginia.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Designers Create Game Of Thrones "Agency"

July 13, 2017

Westeros’s Top Design Agency Offers Case Studies On “Game Of Thrones” Houses

Fast Company | Dan Solomon 

WHAT:, a website that purports to be from the leading agency in Westeros (with an office in Essos, across the Narrow Sea, of course).

WHO: The Game of Thrones tribute project is a lark from Alex Zamiar and Jonathan Richman of the Martin Agency, with strategy and design help from Gigi Jordan and Matt Wojtysiak.

WHY WE CARE: With six seasons and approximately 10,000,000 thinkpieces behind us, it’s hard to imagine that there’s anything new to do with Game of Thrones–but Westeros Design is downright novel even for the most obsessed-over fantasy world this side of Middle Earth. Written as a series of in-world case studies from the firm that ostensibly designed the banners for Houses Stark, Lannister, Targaryen, Bolton, and Arryn–as well as the Titan of Braavos and the sigil of Lord Baelish–the site is surprisingly deep in its content, and a perfect example of the sort of agency-speak that is downright hilarious to imagine in a fantasy world.

“When you can ride, tame and give birth to dragons, it’s fairly obvious how you should direct your brand look and feel. So most of our work was done. But, when House Targaryen came to us there was one major problem hurting their public perception: no dragons. They had been extinct for several hundred years. In our opinion, all the flaxen hair and banners in the world couldn’t come close to doing what a terrifying giant fire-breathing killing machine could do for both brand recall and conversion.”

Every page of the site is fully in-character (visit “location” to see that they’re on the northwest side of King’s Landing, and don’t skip the “our team” page to meet the Dothraki head of new client acquisitions), which just proves that Zamiar and Richman seem to take their Game of Thrones fandom every bit as seriously as you do.DS

Continue to Fast Company.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

So Much Sandwich in Ad Age

July 10, 2017

Footlongs Go on ... and on ... and on in Subway's New Campaign

By . Published on July 10, 2017.

Subway is playing up and playing on the size of its Footlongs in a new campaign from The Martin Agency, the shop's first work for the chain.

The campaign, which the agency did on a project basis, features a new tagline, "So much sandwich."

The work has a bit of a humorous tone and includes extreme closeups of the two sandwiches being sold for $6 on a limited basis, the Subway Club and the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki. (Yes, Footlongs are now $6 when they're on promotion and have been for some time, even if the $5 Footlongs of the once-ubiquitous jingle still pop into your head.)

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Creativity Editor's Pick: Running of the Bulldogs

July 06, 2017

Man Gets Caught in a Bulldog Stampede in Latest Funny Geico Ad

Marketer Gives Spain's Annual Brutal Tradition an Adorable Makeover

By Ann-Christine Diaz. Published on Jul 06, 2017

Geico and The Martin Agency take advantage of Spain's annual Running of the Bulls Festival, which kicked off today, to debut its latest ad from the "It's Not Surprising" campaign.

In it, a man apparently partaking in the tradition becomes "that guy" who stumbles and falls to the ground, waiting to be crushed by the incoming bovine stampede. But as the creatures make their way 'round the bend, turns out they're of a gentler, kinder and more face-licking species. "The running of the bulldogs? Surprising," the voiceover says. What's not surprising? Money the customers save through Geico, of course.

Continue to Creativity.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

New GEICO Campaign Featuring Boyz II Men on MediaPost

June 13, 2017

For Geico, BoyZ II Men Make Nausea, Sweaty Eyelids Sound Good


Following in the footsteps of Salt-N-Pepa, Little Richard, Charo and Gladys Knight’s The Pips, Geico has delved into the world of music nostalgia to showcase celebrities who have experienced the heights of popularity but are due for an impactful comeback among a new and younger demographic.

The insurance firm this week breaks a multi-media campaign starring Boyz II Men, a group formed in Philadelphia in the late 1980s, who are multi-Grammy winners with 11 albums to their credit.

The “It’s What You Do” campaign features the trio of Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris, seen here as conduits of bad news, but with a twist: When they sing dreadful news, it goes down like a spoonful of sugar.

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Two Martin Campaigns Make Adweek's Pre Cannes List

June 12, 2017

Adweek named the "25 Brilliant Ad Campaigns That Will Win Lions in Cannes" today and featured two from Martin: Donate Life, “The World’s Biggest Asshole” & GEICO, "Condensed Ads". 

Donate Life, “The World’s Biggest Asshole” Agency: The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

Can even the most wretched person be redeemed? They can if they’re Coleman F. Sweeney, a horrible human being through most of Donate Life’s three-minute spot who ends up saving lives, upon his untimely death, by being an organ donor. A great counterintuitive idea from Martin, brought to life expertly by actor Thomas Jane.

Geico, “Condensed Ads” The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.

Geico has been entertainingly hacking the lowly YouTube preroll ad ever since “Unskippable,” the celebrated 2015 campaign that won the Film Grand Prix and Adweek’s Ad of the Year award that year. This year’s installment—ads that get crushed so you don’t have to watch them—worked so well, they aired on TV too.

Link to full article.

Posted By: The Martin Agency