Oreo Wants You To Open Up

January 19, 2016

Oreo and Adam Lambert Kick Off the Cookie's Campaign About Diversity and Tolerance

'Open Up' and Be Childlike Again, Says the Brand | By Tim Nudd | Adweek

Oreo is the latest brand to take a stab at making the world a better place, as it launches a global campaign urging people to "Open Up" to new people and experiences—a message of diversity and tolerance delivered first in a 30-second spot with vocal by Adam Lambert.

That spot, called "Rolling Wonder," broke Monday. The campaign, which includes digital content, point-of-sale and global prizing, will roll out to more than 50 countries worldwide during the first half of 2016, Oreo tells AdFreak.

The idea of "Open Up with Oreo," created by The Martin Agency, is to urge people to open their hearts to those who are different and discover the similarities. The campaign is part of the larger global "Wonderfilled" platform that launched in 2013. (It's also slyly product focused, as many people "open up" their Oreos before eating them.)

The work follows last year's "Play With Oreo" campaign, and retains similar themes about being childlike. "Open Up with Oreo" is based off the idea that children are naturally open, and only as we get older do we close ourselves off.

Also on Monday, the brand introduced the Oreo Wonder Vault, a fancifully imagined place where new Oreo flavors are dreamed up and stored. Two U.S. flavors of Oreo are being released this month: returning flavor Red Velvet, and new flavor Cinnamon Bun. A third limited-edition flavor is expected shortly that Oreo promises will be "unlike anything we've done before."

Continue to Adweek.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin NY Continues to Grow

January 14, 2016

The Martin Agency Expands Its New York Creative Team

By Patrick Coffee | January 14, 2016

It’s not just GEICO…or Richmond.

The Martin Agency has gradually been building its Manhattan-based operations over the past few years, and the agency tells us that 2016 should be the office’s biggest yet.

Back in June, Martin hired twofifteenmccann co-CCO James Robinson as its first New York-based ECD, and in recent weeks the creative team continued its expansion with several new hires.

Those include (pictured above):

  • Copywriter Daniel Aguinaga, former freelancer with DDB, Mekanism and Cramer Krasselt as well as Y&R and Geometry Global
  • Senior copywriter Jamie Umpherson and senior art director Marie Richer, both of whom previously worked at Toronto’s john st. and Rethink
  • Art director George Widodo, former intern at Mother New York, Mullen and David&Goliath
  • ACD Heather Schmitz, formerly senior copywriter at EnergyBBDO Chicago and Sid Lee
  • ACD Marysia Makowska, who freelanced at Sid Lee, BBH, Publicis and Michael Kors

The real story here, if you see it as such, is the establishment of New York as a crucial part of the Martin network. Quite a few agencies’ Manhattan outposts have proven short-lived in recent years, but the slow-and-steady approach seems to be working for Martin.

Martin New York collaborates with the agency’s Richmond and London offices on various accounts while also running the Optimum and Sunglass Hut business.

Creative is currently its largest department, and we expect more hiring news to come over the next few months.

Continue to AgencySpy.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Fifty Years of Martin

January 12, 2016

Explore Fifty Years of Martin Agency Work on Its Anniversary Website

Responsive Design Leads to a Treasure Trove of Ads

By Alexandra Jardine | January 12, 2016

The Martin Agency has created a beautifully designed website to celebrate its 50th annniversary. The site lets you explore the agency's work, origins and history using a responsive timeline that expands when you click on a key period.

The clever design is based on the insight that a thread runs through everything it has done, from its early years as a local Virginia shop to national success and then global expansion. From its first ever ads for clients like Virginia Tourism to its recent famous work for the likes of Geico, this is a treasure trove of Martin history -- and a snapshot of the history of the industry too. The "thread" theme follows that also featured in a 50th anniversary book the agency also created.

Continue to Creativity.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin at #CES2016

January 11, 2016

We sent a group to the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to get our hands on the latest gadgets, hear talks from leading thinkers in the industry, gamble with agency money (kidding), and debate about the future of our civilization.

We’ve summarized our takeaways from the show below. Now that we’ve gotten some key themes on digital paper, we’ll shift our attention to take action and apply these insights to shift how our brands leverage trends and technology to create more meaningful connections with consumers.

Let’s do it.

The value of innovation

There’s a clear tension underwriting most innovations and enhancements: Is it necessary? Is an innovation solving a real problem and adding value into someone’s life, or is it further removing us from our own reasoning skills and ability to make independent decisions?

Being connected doesn’t make something smart or helpful. True connectivity is leveraging technology to enrich someone’s life. The same filter can be applied to how brands think about designing their own footprint in the world. Are you existing just to exist or have you created a distinct value proposition? Are you creating content because you think you should or because you understand how people are engaging with it and why they care?

Let’s make sure we never let the pursuit of a smart thing overshadow a smart story.

Convenience vs. Character

There’s a sliding scale that defines experiences, with convenience and character at opposite ends of the spectrum. Convenience promises standardization. Character doesn’t. How powerful is the pull of unpredictability in an experience? How much do consumers desire that uncontrollable “character” and how comfortable are you with it as a marketer?

This got us thinking: do decisions about where your brand or products fall on this spectrum define disruption? Is doing something unexpected simply a function of changing the perception of where on this spectrum your customers predict your next innovation to land?

Maybe. Or perhaps each product, touch-point and piece of content can dial up different elements based on why you’re creating it. Thinking about this issue will be at the center of how brands connect with people in 2016 and beyond.

VR: The brave brands will win.

Holy $#!+ -- this space is ready for the mainstream and poised to explode. We saw some incredible demos of how VR and AR are evolving to provide immersive, transcendent experiences for the user. Most importantly, the need for content on these platforms is striking.

Creating branded narratives or integrations in this world is a massive opportunity for marketers to tell stories in new ways and stack talk-value experiences with innovative tech. Even if it doesn’t feel right for a brand strategically, the need for content in this new media is so big that consumers and platforms will welcome experimentation. Who will have the balls to make something awesome?

The pervasive question is around the weighted value of an interaction with a product that is unlike anything a consumer has seen before. How much closer do they feel to your brand after touching it in a fake world with hands that look and feel like their own? Much closer, we assume.

From NO to NOT YET

After the initial geeking out subsided, you overhear a lot of people at CES saying “is that possible?” Or “do we have the technology (camera/software/bandwidth) currently to support that?” A lot of times the answer is some version of yes. It’s a work in progress. It’s not a hard NO just a NOT YET. So in short (and for the sake of our work) let’s always assume anything is possible.

Remember to consider if the way we’re utilizing these endless possibilities is the best way to tell our brand’s story. Because while these technologies, innovations, and products may be shiny, they’re all serving a quite antiquated purpose. To ensure our brands remain relevant, useful and enjoyable in a world moving so fast we can barely keep up.

What is content?

Any touch-point where a brand can add value is content. TV spots are content as much as a customer service agent’s script. Unifying your voice and POV is a key aspect of making your content fulfill its potential and truly understand user experience is at the center of this planning/execution.

Customer + user experience is how you do things -- not what you make for them to experience. This concept has leaped out of the digital space and is now being applied to how we design everything that a brand does, both online and offline.

This can seem overwhelming, but the opportunity for differentiation lies in consistency with scale. To do this, we can start with establishing proper consumer journeys to identify the best places and ways to speak with our customers that makes the most impact. And of course, data is a major key to helping validate these journeys and communication touch-points. Use data to understand that some decisions may go against the trend and intuition, but will help validate the end result.


For more content and observations from our time at #CES2016, visit: http://martinwhatstrending.tumblr.com/


Posted By: The Martin Agency

Best of 2015: Creativity Names GEICO's Unskippable #1 for TV/Film

January 04, 2016

Best of 2015 No. 1 TV/Film: Geico's Pre-Roll Ads Are Literally Unskippable.

Link to Full Story.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

SHOOT Names Martin 2015 Agency of Year

December 18, 2015

Ad Agency of the Year: "It's What They Do"

Executives at The Martin Agency reflect on the shop’s creative culture, and breaking new ground in 2015


Making pre-roll ad fare a creative must see is in and of itself arguably enough to justify the selection of The Martin Agency as Agency of the Year in 2015. But there’s much more to consider in that the “Unskippable” campaign for long-standing client Geico not only changed the perception of pre-roll but also in some circles Martin itself. The “Unskippable: Family” spot won The Martin Agency its first ever Cannes Grand Prix, bringing high-profile Film Lions Jury recognition to a shop that had in some respects been taken for granted over the years, akin paradoxically to the Geico tagline, “It what you do.”

The fact is that the Richmond, VA-headquartered The Martin Agency, celebrating its 50th anniversary, has long been home to breakthrough advertising—it’s what they do and what they’ve done for decades, successfully diversifying from a heralded print agency in its early years to a TV shop and now embracing social media, consistently weaving brands into mainstream and pop culture across multiple platforms. 2015 was a great year for all this at Martin, promptingSHOOT’s selection as its Agency of the Year.

“We’ve become a content shop across all media and outlets,” assessed chief creative officer Joe Alexander.

“Unskippable”—directed by the Terri Timely duo at Park Pictures—“breaks every rule of filmmaking,” said 2015 Cannes Film Lions Jury president Tor Myhren, worldwide chief creative officer for Grey, which scored SHOOT’sAgency of the Year honor just a couple of years ago. (At press time it was announced that Myhren is departing Grey to join Apple as VP of marketing communications.)

In talking about the jury’s rationale for bestowing Grand Prix distinction upon “Unskippable,” Myhren observed that Martin bucks conventional wisdom by challenging viewers not to watch the ad, which only reinforces what becomes a “can’t take your eyes off of it” dynamic. With the insurance brand pitch wrapped in the first five seconds (prior to the appearance of the “Skip ad” button), a voiceover boasts, “You can’t skip this Geico ad because it’s already over.” Then the action—prompted by inaction—begins. Each “Unskippable” video humorously shows characters pretending to be frozen as action continues around them. In the case of “Family,” folks at the dinner table suddenly becoming “frozen” translates into a golden opportunity for their beloved dog to gorge himself on all the food laid out, making a mess in the process—all with the Geico brand logo front and center.

Myhren said this “deceptively simple piece of communication” demonstrated that film “can reinvent the way you look at media,” even for pre-roll, arguably the least sexy, most deservedly ignored medium around.

Litmus test
During the course of any given year, SHOOT seeks out and is sent assorted pieces of notable work. But the litmus test is not how well that work plays in a vacuum—when we screen it at our offices—but rather if it breaks through in the medium, traditional or otherwise, for which is was originally intended.

Just as “Unskippable” made an indelible impression online, Martin’s TV work broke through in a big way in 2015 with Geico being at the forefront. If you’re the guy from the Operation board game, you get operated on. If you’re golf commentators, you speak in hushed tones—even if a giant serpent is wreaking havoc on the golf course. If you’re the band Europe, you play “The Final Countdown”—replete with pyrotechnics—at every opportunity, even at a company lunch room where the song coincides with the readout on a microwave oven, counting down to a properly heated and ready to eat entree. In each of these different spot scenarios, “It’s what you do”—just like saving you money on auto insurance is what Geico does.

Steve Bassett—who heads the Geico account along with fellow group creative director Wade Alger—noted that this far ranging, engaging creative content is helped tremendously by rock-solid, enduring strategy.

Alger agreed that the Cannes Grand Prix and other accolades are in fact both for Martin’s creative wherewithal as well as its savvy strategic planning. For years, we’ve been hearing Geico’s “15 minutes can save you 15 percent” message—delivered by geckos, cavemen, a high-decibel Little Richard, the humpday camel all the way through to the aforementioned spate of recent creatively inspired work. Rather than bouncing from strategy to strategy, Geico has kept its money-saving credo simple and consistent—and the foundation from which great creative can spring.

This foundation over time also applies to the people themselves at the brand and the agency. Alexander has been on the creative lead for Geico since 2000 and Alger since 2009. They work closely with Geico’s chief marketing officer Ted Ward, who’s been there for the duration, dating back to when Geico and The Martin Agency first came together some 21 years ago. Knowing the message, the brand, the brand’s needs and aspirations leads to the creation of work that’s inherently relevant to the marketplace.

A Martin veteran approaching 25 years at the agency, Alexander is embarking on his fourth year as chief creative officer. “Having a core group of leaders who have been here a while helps us in terms of the creative content, and it sends a message to the influx of new creative talent,” said Alexander. “There’s a stability from having people who know the place inside and out, who know the clients, who know that you can fail and still thrive. Ironically, stability leads to more fearlessness for those who’ve been here and those who are new to the agency.

“When you get comfortable with the creative leaders, you feel more comfortable taking chances. That’s been true with Geico and was reflected this year in animated musical pieces for Oreo, Benjamin Moore—with this year’s “Dummy” spots, and the earlier Green Monster (Fenway Park, Boston) work which last year won an Integrated Silver Lion at Cannes—our Star Wars tie-in and our new Craig Robinson work for Walmart, our new campaign for Tic Tacs, a great social experiment for Tie the Knot.”

The latter was the “Supreme Save the Date” initiative. Founded by Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, Tie The Knot, a nonprofit organization that supports marriage equality, teamed with Martin to create a “Save the Date Builder” which helped gay couples who hope to marry create their own Save the Date invites and relay them to Supreme Court justices prior to what turned out to be their historic decision upholding gay marriage.

Save the Date invites were designed and available for personalization on the Tie The Knot/Supreme Save the Date website. Couples then selected a design and inputted their info, including a wedding date and the state in which they live (with emphasis on those states that were yet to legalize gay marriage). The invites were then addressed to a Supreme Court justice, with Tie the Knot printing and delivering the cards. The Supreme Court thus received news of wedding plans that could only move forward easily with a favorable verdict by the justices.

Creative culture, craftsmanship
Alexander joined The Martin Agency in 1991. The venerable creative director Mike Hughes, who later became agency president, hired Alexander. (Hughes passed away in December of 2013.)

“When I came here, I didn’t think I’d stay all that long but I fell in love with the culture, the city, raised my three daughters here,” said Alexander. “I’ve watched this place keep growing and found that I could grow with it. In Richmond and at Martin you have a great quality of life but can still create great work.”

Executive creative director Jorge Calleja said that the great quality of life for Richmond residents helps to nurture and advance creativity.

“When you have a better life outside of work, it can make your work that much better. It pushes you in a different way and you’re more hungry to go for things outside of the box. There’s a certain humanity and coziness in Richmond and at The Martin Agency. It frees your mind to come up with things you might otherwise ignore or not come up with to begin with. Attaining that simplicity in thinking is crucial to turning out the work we do.”

Bassett observed that Hughes was “huge in creating a wonderful culture” at Martin. “Always doing work you love with people you love may sound corny, but Mike was all about that and it permeated the agency. There are less politics here than any place I’ve ever worked.”

The mantra born out of that, shared Alexander, was for people at The Martin Agency to be “good to each other, tough on the work.”

John Adams, who is chairman of Martin, had been business partners with Hughes for 35 years. Steve Humble, executive VP, managing director of production and development, said that Hughes and Adams historically set the tone at Martin. “You couldn’t find two more honest guys in the business,” affirmed Humble. “They were about doing the right thing at all times. From that came a culture that is not hierarchal. No one’s opinion is better than another’s. The best opinions and ideas win out, no matter where they come from.”

That inclusiveness is also reflected in Humble being named to serve on the Martin executive committee two years ago. “It’s a great honor. Heads of production and producers don’t make it to the management of most agencies. But here it’s about what you bring to the table,” said Humble who’s been with Martin for 16 years, having come over from Chicago where he was a producer at Leo Burnett and Foote Cone & Belding.

The Martin Agency’s roots also emphasize craft and craftsmanship, which remain relevant today, maybe more so than ever.

“There’s a lot of focus on technology, digital, social media and trends nowadays but no one is really talking that much about craft and craftsmanship,” related Alexander. “Mike Hughes said that craft would be at the core of everything we do. It’s what separates our work from other agencies. Technique, media and the like will come and go, and change. But craft and attention to detail are constant. Consumers respond to and brands prosper from a high level of craft.”

Appropriately enough, craft, Martin and the City of Richmond go hand in hand, perhaps best embodied in the RVA Makerfest, an annual event where attendees can interact with more than 100 makers from the Greater Richmond area, including blacksmiths, glassblowers, drone pilots, video game developers, 3D printer manufacturers, robot creators, puppeteers, chocolatiers and assorted other artists. The free, family-friendly event features interactive demonstrations in science, art, technology, engineering sustainability, food, music, crafts and fashion.

Several employees at The Martin Agency came up with the idea for RVA Makerfest in order to get more involved with the community and to create unique learning and development opportunities. Martin has been an active sponsor both years of the fest. And The Martin Agency Kitchen program has created the communications for the event two years running, including an IMAX movie trailer in 2014 and the screen-printed poster that made its way into the Virginia Historical Society’s collection this year.

Creative technologists at Martin participated in MakerFest both years, demonstrating concept work for Mondelez (parent to Oreo, among other brands) and Moen as well as a custom robot PartyBot built for the event.

“Talk less and do more is the theme of Makerfest. And it’s the way we operate as well,” noted Alexander. “We put a big emphasis on doers and makers.” He said this applies to the directors, editors, visual effects artists and everyone else Martin hires at production companies, post houses, visual effects/animation and music studios—and to the in-house capabilities that Martin has developed.

For its craft and content, The Martin Agency has ongoing relationships with top drawer outside vendors while also tapping into in-house resources such as post/visual effects/animation house Hue & Cry, and editorial arm Running With Scissors. “We built Running With Scissors and Hue & Cry for lifestyle reasons,” shared Alexander. “Being in Richmond, our people were often traveling to New York, L.A. and other major centers, spending an inordinate amount of time on the road. In addition to the economic advantages of having our in-house units, they allow our people to stay home, to edit and post here. We have many people with young families who have the personal need to spend more time close to home. By having in-house options, we add to the sanity of this business and their lives, making things a little less frantic and with a little less anxiety for our staff.”

The in-house capabilities also enable Martin to, explained Alexander, “rapid prototype and get concept approval from clients. Instead of presenting a storyboard in static form, we can put an idea into motion with film and sound. It gives us a leg up, helping us experiment with concepts, move quicker on them, and then handling the final execution—or going to talent outside to help us realize an idea.”

Alexander characterized Martin’s in-house production and postproduction resources as “a nice complement to our outside partners.”

This outside talent has been vital to brand success, pointed out Alexander, citing as an example director Wayne McClammy of Hungry Man whose first endeavors for Geico included the camel “Humpday” commercial and more recently rock band Europe’s rendition of “The Final Countdown.”

“Wayne has a great sense of comedy, is very collaborative, has a strong point of view without being a jerk about it, and he’s also good at marrying humor and dialogue with sophisticated visual effects [the serpent creature from MPC in the aforementioned wryly humored golf commentator commercial].”

Over the years, Alexander observed that Martin has been “spoiled” by its great relationships with vendors. “Since we’re in Richmond, they come to visit us, we hang out for a night, do a screening. They get out of the big city and get to know us and Richmond. That face-to-face in a welcoming city has helped us get relationships off on the right foot. It’s especially valuable, particularly now that so much is done via email and online in an insular fashion.”

The mix of outside vendors and in-house resources is also reflected in the Oreo account. Alexander noted that the new Oreo yuletide spot is from visual effects/animation studio Psyop, and the global Oreo campaign launched in early 2015 included animation from Brand New School.

On the flip side, last year’s “Mel’s Mini Mart” spot for Oreo was done entirely in-house via Hue & Cry and went on to score a 2015 AICP Show honor.

Executive creative director Calleja, who oversees creative on business that includes Oreo, described Hue & Cry as “a great little secret. We have been able to develop a full production company inside the building and they deserve a lot of credit for the work we do.”

Humble, who heads development of in-house capabilities, noted that “we don’t force anyone to work with our internal production units. People choose to work there based on the quality of work and service like any outside vendor.”

And while Martin launched Hue & Cry and Running With Scissors, those units are actually part of an LLC owned by the Interpublic Group. Martin is a shop in the IPG family of companies.

The in-house digital production department and other in-house resources are available to work with advertising agencies and companies other than Martin. The digital production department in fact has dome some outside work for agencies within IPG.

2015 has also seen The Martin Agency graduate its New York operation to a full-fledged shop with the hiring of executive creative director James Robinson who previously served as co-chief creative officer at 215 McCann.

The Martin Agency has additionally extended its reach internationally with Daniel Fisher who becomes the first executive creative director at Martin’s new London office.

Kicking off the year with the landing of cable account Optimum, the New York office of Martin turned the corner. Around mid-year Robinson came on board and what had been a modest Manhattan presence centered on a group of designers has grown into a standalone operation of some 50 staffers servicing accounts such as Optimum and Madison Square Garden (which includes The Rockettes and the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks). Furthermore work for Sunglass Hut is slated to break next year.

Robinson came up the ranks at 215 McCann, joining the San Francisco shop as creative director on Xbox in 2011, rising to executive creative director and ultimately co-chief creative officer. During his tenure there, 215 became agency of record for Pandora, Annie’s Homegrown and Workday while expanding its Xbox portfolio to include digital responsibilities for the brand.

Prior to 215, Robinson was at Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco, where he helped to run the successful pitch for Audi, and turned out lauded work for the Meth Project, cited by the White House as one of the most effective anti-drug programs of all time. Robinson began his agency career in New York as a writer at Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

Robinson noted that he joined The Martin Agency to not just build a NY office but also to help get a network [with Richmond and London] up and running.

“There are exceptions but in a lot of network shops, people closely guard their projects and their people,” said Robinson. “At The Martin Agency we allow work and people to flow freely through the network. If there’s a need, our resources can flow into Richmond to help meet that need. It’s possible to actually do that because of the nature of Martin’s culture—no egos, no turf. We’ve done this already as well as tapping into creatives in London. At the same time, we’re putting more in place in New York. We now have three permanent creative teams here backed by the immense creative talent in Richmond. And we’re still hiring more people in New York.

London executive creative director Fisher came over to Martin earlier this year from Adam&EveDDB, London, where he had a creative hand in U.K. retailer John Lewis’ “Monty The Penguin” which won the Film Craft Grand Prix at Cannes in 2014.

Martin’s CCO Alexander noted that the London and New York shops are part of a grand plan.

“We made a decision in the last year or so to start building a creative network, eventually with six or seven offices around the globe that can serve clients and compete against the best creative agencies in the world,” related Alexander. “We’re not looking for global dominance; instead, just a micro network of shops—with the Martin creative culture—to simply make good work.”

Continue to SHOOT Online.

Posted By: The Martin Agency