The Optimum Cat Café

August 14, 2015

Last week, our Optimum client took their effort to ‘bring you closer to the things you love’ to a whole new level. A feline level, that is.

As an extension of their latest spot Let’s Connect More: Cats, Optimum teamed up with the North Shore Animal League of America to create a real-live Cat Café in Hoboken.

For five hours a day for five days, people could come hang out and play with cats, all which were available for adoption, while accessing Optimum’s incredibly speedy wifi for free.

Throughout the event, nearly 1,000 people came out to experience The Cat Café, 11 animals were adopted, and Optimum matched a dollar to the North Shore Animal League of America for every use of the #tristatecats hashtag, totaling over one thousand dollars. Twitter alone generated 10.8MM impressions for the hashtag, and the event was covered on several news blogs, generating attention through the country.

Optimum is known for bringing you closer to a more colorful world. The Cat Café was just the beginning.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin London recruits Daniel Fisher

August 13, 2015

The Martin Agency, the Interpublic shop, has appointed Daniel Fisher, the deputy executive creative director at Adam & Eve/DDB, as the first executive creative director of Martin London.

Fisher will look to build the agency, which currently has five staff, and work with brands including Npower, Education UK and WWF.

Ian Davidson, Martin’s managing director, international, has been running the London office since it opened last year. Fisher will now be involved in recruiting a permanent London managing director and a chief strategist.

He will work with Brian Williams, Martin London’s deputy executive creative director. Williams relocated from the headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.

At A&E/DDB, Fisher and his partner, Richard Brim, created John Lewis’ "Monty the penguin" in 2014 when they were creative directors.

Fisher was promoted to deputy executive creative director in January while Brim became an executive creative director alongside Ben Tollett.

Matt Williams, Martin’s chief executive, said: "There is always room for great work and that’s how we plan to grow our presence. With Dan on board, we can do that."

Continue to Campaign.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Ad of the Day: Sea Monster Terrorizes Golf Course in Geico's New 'It's What You Do' Spot

August 11, 2015

Adweek, By Tim Nudd

If you're Geico, you whip up another comically goofy commercial and make sure everyone sees it by taking over the YouTube masthead before rolling it out to TV. It's what you do.

While it recently experimented with another shop for some short spots, Geico is continuing its long-running relationship with The Martin Agency, unveiled the latest "It's what you do" spot on YouTube over the weekend before launching it Monday in broadcast.

The action this time takes place on a golf course, where a giant sea monster emerges from a water hazard to wreak some havoc, which a 9 iron just can't handle. But it's not the sea monster's behavior but that of the announcers that serves as the punch line here.

Continue to Adweek.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Martin Announces Additions to Creative Staff

July 21, 2015

Over the past few months, we've added a bunch of creative talent to our roster. Meet the latest and greatest.

L to R

1st Row

Marco Worsham, Senior Art Director

A native of Richmond, Marco has spent time in Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston and New York working on brands like Adidas, Hummer, McDonalds and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. He also has a published children’s book inspired by his daughter.

Casey Hall, Senior Copywriter

Partners with Beth Fujiura, Casey is a talented illustrator, and got his start in web design and development, but found his calling as a writer while participating in the WK12.

Beth Fujiura, Senior Art Director

Both Beth and her partner, Casey, join us after several years in China, first at Wieden Shanghai, and then freelancing for BBH’s outpost there. They met through Wieden’s advertising school/intern program, The WK12, in 2009, and were subsequently hired on in Portland to work on Target, Dodge and Coke.

Jesse Mitchell, Art Director

Before joining Martin, Jesse spent the last three years at Olson, where he worked on Saucony, Whole Foods, Sharp, Pepsi and McDonald’s, among others.

Mik Manulik, Senior Copywriter

Before joining Martin, Mik worked at CP+B in Boulder and Miami for almost seven years. While there he worked on Microsoft, Velveeta , Angel's Envy, Burger King, Jell-O and American Express. Before that, Mik worked at Publicis in Seattle.

Scot Crooker, Senior Art Director

Scot joins us from Van Winkle + Pearce in Atlanta where he was running and Homewood Suites. Prior to VW+P, Scot was at Brunner and before that, BBDO, where he worked as the creative lead on REI.

2nd Row

Marcelo Mariano, Associate Creative Director

Marcelo joins Martin from JWT Brazil, where he worked as an ACD on Ford.

Andrew Maaldrink, Senior Copywriter

Alex Herwig and Andrew Maaldrink are a creative team from the Netherlands. Their combined height of 13.5” feet explains their nickname: the Tallest Team in Advertising. Previous to joining The Martin Agency Andrew worked as a copywriter in Amsterdam at TBWA, Y&R and Alfred. His best known work is security footage of a guy stealing a television (LG Thief). His personal favorite is a election quiz using people's brand preferences (Brand Voting). Art director Alex used to work at Havas in Amsterdam where he created a social media driven fundraising campaign for an orchestra (Tweetphony). He later joined DDB & Tribal Amsterdam to raise puppies and a lot of publicity for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Sherlock).

David Byrd, Associate Creative Director

David comes to Martin from EVB in San Francisco. Prior to that he was at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.

Josh Leutz, VP/Creative Director

Previously, Josh was a Creative Director at Butler Shine Stern & Partners where he wrote a new global brand platform for MINI and worked on recruitment efforts for Google.

Alex Herwig, Senior Art Director

Alex Herwig and Andrew Maaldrink are a creative team from the Netherlands. Their combined height of 13.5” feet explains their nickname: the Tallest Team in Advertising. Previous to joining The Martin Agency Andrew worked as a copywriter in Amsterdam at TBWA, Y&R and Alfred. His best known work is security footage of a guy stealing a television (LG Thief). His personal favorite is a election quiz using people's brand preferences (Brand Voting). Art director Alex used to work at Havas in Amsterdam where he created a social media driven fundraising campaign for an orchestra (Tweetphony). He later joined DDB & Tribal Amsterdam to raise puppies and a lot of publicity for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Sherlock).

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Oreo Thins Named Adweek's Spot of the Day

July 20, 2015

The new Oreo Thins get a formal introduction today with a "Wonderfilled" spot from The Martin Agency that suggests the thinner cookies are a thing of wonder even if they're not quite as filled as their forebears.

Dutch production house MediaMonks Films (and directors Rogier Schalken and Magnus Hierta) did the animation for the :30, which has a pleasantly faux-epic vibe thanks to its soundtrack's mashup of Strauss' 119-year-old "Thus Spake Zarathustra" with the 2-year-old Martin-written "Wonderfilled" song.

The spot certainly leans into the product's thinness, portraying it as almost paperlike in a cute, short series of animations. In announcing the product two weeks ago, Oreo said it was "following 'thin' cues in technology" and putting "a sleek and modern spin on a classic."

The ad shows off this inspiration, too. When the cookie turns sideways to form the "i" in the word THINS, it's like any number of tech ads where the gadget spins sideways to show off a slender frame.

The cookies hit store shelves last week in Original, Golden and Mint flavors—a permanent addition to the Oreo line. In addition to the TV spot, the marketing campaign will also include lots of social activity, including an upcoming video that shows how the more sophisticated Oreo Thins gives the "forgotten" pinky finger a new reason to be, and a series of new etiquette rules around how to "properly" enjoy the Oreo Thins.

And if you're not into being this sophisticated, or you're flat-out angry about the creme reduction, you always have Double Stuf to fall back on.

Continue to Adweek.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Richmond Times-Dispatch Takes a Look Back on Martin's 50 Years

July 19, 2015

By Randy Hallman, Richmond Times-Dispatch

When John Adams joined The Martin Agency in September 1973, it was still going by Martin & Woltz. The ad shop had about two dozen employees in offices at 311 W. Franklin St.

Adams, the agency’s former longtime chief executive officer, now is preparing to bow out as chairman and migrate to emeritus status. He is handing over the reins of an ad industry powerhouse that is celebrating its 50th anniversary and pondering a vision of further global expansion.

His move to the background is set to take effect Jan. 1 — though he still will have an office to inhabit on occasion. The agency hasn’t yet named a successor.

His retirement is the final piece in a wholesale shift in agency leadership.

Since 2012, The Martin Agency has appointed a new CEO to replace Adams, a new chief creative officer, a new chief operations officer, a new chief financial officer and a new managing director of account management.

Every one of the new executives is a longtime employee of the agency — and Adams is proud and pleased with that.

Ad agencies, he said, tend to have problems when there’s new leadership. “We have tried to do it in a way that is as seamless as it could ever be.”


Andrew McMains, a senior editor for industry publication Adweek, and former New York Times reporter Stuart Elliot both said they are confident The Martin Agency will not suffer as a result of its change of top officers.

“The agency has gone through transitions before,” Elliott said. “When they move people up from within, they continue the traditions and service their clients have experienced.”

McMains said Martin is “an agency that knows who it is. They stay true to their values. ... They treat employees well from top to bottom.”

The agency’s résumé includes two decades of iconic ads for Geico.

The current client roster includes Walmart, Discover Card, Hanes, Oreo, Stolichnaya, Benjamin Moore and other widely known brands. Among the company’s past clients are UPS, NASCAR, Mercedes, Saab, Wrangler and Pizza Hut.

McMains said Martin’s status as a sought-after U.S. agency is demonstrated by its lyrical work with the Oreo brand since 2012, by its succinct ads for Walmart since taking the retail giant on as a client in 2007, and by its two decades-plus of making Geico a household word.

Some advertising, he said, “becomes sort of an inside game of cat-and-mouse — who can be the most edgy.”

Martin, on the other hand, is “the opposite of pretentious ... not too slick, not too hip.”

The Geico ads, McMains said, “breathed new life into a whole category” of vehicle insurance, pushing other agencies to change their approach, too.

Elliott, who wrote for The New York Times for 23 years until December, said Martin “popularized the idea of multiple campaigns, all running at the same time.” He cited Martin’s Geico ads — from a cheeky gecko lizard to touchy cavemen to a camel hailing “hump day” to a series of “everybody knows that” observations.

“When you have a client who does so much advertising,” Elliott said, “if you use one campaign, people will soon be sick of it.”


Adams and Mike Hughes took a thoughtful look at the company’s future several years ago.

“Mike and I looked around and saw that several of our top people were going to retire about the same time,” Adams said. “We wanted to be sure the agency kept its personality and its commitment to great work.”

Hughes, who died of cancer in December 2013, was the agency’s longtime president and creative soul. He and Adams are members of the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame.

They didn’t have to look far to find new people to fill the leadership positions.

Hughes gave up his role as chief creative officer. After a relatively brief tenure in that position by an outside hire, in 2012, the job went to Joe Alexander, who now has 24 years with Martin.

In 2013, Adams stepped aside as CEO and the agency promoted 24-year Martin veteran Matt Williams to that position.

Also in 2013, Beth Rilee-Kelley became chief operating officer, replacing Paul McKee. Rilee-Kelley has been at the agency nearly 32 years.

Two other top positions also went to agency veterans. Janet White (23 years) became chief financial officer in 2012. Chris Mumford (14 years) took over as managing director of account management in 2012.

The agency’s headquarters is a 122,000-square-foot building in Shockoe Slip, and it has offices in New York and London.


CEO Williams hasn’t forgotten his early experience at Martin as an account executive.

One of his first client meetings included Adams and other company heavyweights.

“I’m 24 years old, still wet behind the years,” Williams recalled. “I’m there with John Adams and everybody else — I am being very quiet.”

When the meeting was over, Adams asked Williams to stay. “He told me, ‘If you don’t say much, you can’t add the value the client is paying for. ... You have good things to say. I want to hear you say them.’ “

Chief Operating Officer Rilee-Kelley, too, remembers how she got started with the agency in 1983, just a few months out of the University of Virginia. At first there was no opening, but she was determined to get a job at Martin after talking to several local agencies.

“The joke was that I stalked The Martin Agency,” she said. “I had decided I had to be with this company. I was on a first-name basis with a receptionist — so I popped by a lot.

“She’d see me and call and say, ‘Beth Rilee’s here,’ and I’d have another conversation with somebody in the company.

“Eventually, they hired me as assistant account executive, and Mike Hughes said, ‘You know why you got the job, don’t you.’ I said, ‘Because I’m smart?’ He said, ‘No, because you’re persistent. If you’re this persistent in getting a job, you’ll be this persistent in doing a great job.”

Rilee-Kelley said it was immediately apparent to her that in an industry dominated by men, Martin was a place where women excelled and advanced to leadership positions.

“I never thought, ‘This is going to be a slog,’ “ she said. “I looked around and said, ‘This is where you do it.’

“If anything, there were times when Mike and John would give me a push ... and I’d say I wasn’t ready. They’d say, ‘Yes you are. Go!’ And I’d be off to the next thing.”

Rilee-Kelley worked across company departments en route to her current position, where “I’m responsible for everything our employees need to do their jobs,” she said. “Every day is different. That’s why I like it so much.”


Contributions from employees, even at the lowest level, have deep roots at The Martin Agency.

For instance, the initial version of the “Virginia Is For Lovers” campaign, which propelled the agency toward international fame, came from a $100-a-week copywriter, Robin McLaughlin, in 1969.

McLaughlin’s idea was to say “Virginia Is For History Lovers” — a phrase that could be changed to say mountain lovers, beach lovers and other fill-in-the-blank lovers.

David N. Martin, the industry giant who founded the agency with George R. Woltz in 1965, suggested striking out the various categories. Soon thereafter, Virginia’s all-purpose, provocative “Lovers” slogan was recognized nearly everywhere.

In 1975, Woltz and Martin split and the company became The Martin Agency. In 1986, Scali, McCabe & Sloves Advertising of New York bought majority interest in the company from Martin, who left the agency in 1988. Martin remained an industry figure until his death in 2012.

In 1994, The Interpublic Group of Cos., also based in New York, bought controlling interest in The Martin Agency.

Through its ownership changes, Martin has operated as an independent agency.

“Interpublic has been utterly faithful to its commitment to our autonomy,” Adams said, “and we’ve done really well for them.”

That independence includes Martin’s policy to steer clear of some clients.

Martin doesn’t push tobacco products because there’s no appetite for that category among company leaders, Adams said.

And the agency has had a policy of no political campaigns since it worked for a client running for a statewide office decades ago. The candidate lost, his campaign committee evaporated and Martin was never paid.


The agency’s trophy room has shelves full of hardware.

One of the whimsical “Unskippable” pre-roll video ads for Geico won the agency’s first Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last month.

That award rivals the prestige of the agency’s 2013 Emmy for “Clouds Over Cuba,” an in-depth, interactive documentary about the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The film was created for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

And in 2010, before those honors, Adweek named The Martin Agency its U.S. Agency of the Year.

As proud as the agency is of its awards, that’s not what drives the company, said Alexander, the chief creative officer. The primary mission, he said, is “to grab an audience and hold it for the brands we work for.

“Is your work working for your clients? That’s the first question. Then you can ask — Is it winning awards?”

Alexander is gung-ho about the next step the agency is contemplating: more international offices.

Martin has had outposts elsewhere — for years the locations across the country depended on the needs of major clients. In 2005, the company opened a permanent New York office. And last year, London became home to the agency’s first international office.

Adams, Williams, Rilee-Kelley and Alexander all talked with enthusiasm about what they called a “micro-network” extending the agency’s reach to offices in South America and Asia, exponentially increasing the pool of potential clients. None of the company officers offered a timetable, but all spoke of a need to expand.

“The key is to have a great leadership team,” Alexander said, “a team that can work on its own with a very light touch from us.”

He said the foreign offices would operate with a heightened understanding of custom and culture abroad.

“It would be crazy to replicate Richmond” on other continents, Alexander said.


Nevertheless, Richmond may be one of the agency’s greatest assets.

Helayne Spivak, director of the Brandcenter, Virginia Commonwealth University’s advertising graduate school, said The Martin Agency feeds on being away from traditional advertising centers, such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Scores of Martin employees have studied at the Brandcenter. The building that houses the school is named for Hughes, who helped establish the school and was its longtime board chairman. Adams succeeded his partner as chairman.

“Martin doesn’t do things the traditional ad agency way,” Spivak said. “They’re always a step ahead.”

The prize-winning “Unskippable” pre-roll video “is aimed at the most cynical audience in the world,” she said. “The Martin Agency did something fresh and different that nobody else has done. It works, even with that audience.”

Adams said the Richmond area offers a clear picture of the way most Americans live — different from the intense pace of major cities.

Moreover, he said, Richmond is a great place to live, which helps the agency keep its talented staff.

He’s an example himself, having turned down an offer earlier in his career to move to Nashville, Tenn., and take over an agency there. Richmond had a hold on him, and things at Martin were at an interesting stage.

“Ultimately, I decided I’d rather stick around here and see how things turned out,” he said.

“People visit from New York, London, Amsterdam — and they kind of fall in love with Richmond,” Adams said. He pointed to the city’s relatively easy rush-hour traffic, its vibrant outdoor life, its arts and entertainment opportunities.

“I know it’s trite,” he said, “but it’s easier to have a rich family life here than it is in many other cities. When you look back on your life ... family, friends and a sense of community are the things that really matter.”

(804) 649-6844

Continue to Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Posted By: The Martin Agency