What if you were a client?

August 19, 2015

What if you were a client? By John Adams, Chairman

One of the things I enjoy most, and have throughout my career, is sharing ideas and passing along some of the wisdom I’ve picked up from others along the way. And to that end, below is an observation I shared with our staff [at The Martin Agency] in a recent meeting. I hope it will be of some use to you.

Some years ago a man named Michael Treacy wrote a book in which he concluded that truly exceptional organizations excel at one of three competencies, and are competitive in at least one other. They are: Product superiority, Customer intimacy and Operational efficiency.

One might conclude, since we are in a service business, that the core competency of an advertising agency should be customer (client) intimacy. We’ve always looked at it differently here. We’re in the product superiority business. Our product is the stream of ideas of all kinds that we produce in all areas of the business. In a client service business, this stream of ideas is the most valuable service we can provide.

What if you were a client of The Martin Agency? What would you expect from us? What would you want from the individuals at the agency with whom you work?

It’s worth taking time to think about. After the quality of our work, the quality of our relationships is the most important thing we’ve got. In fact, the quality of those relationships is a crucial ingredient of the quality of our work. And while we talk about relationship between the agency and a client, we all know there are no relationships between companies, only relationships between people.

I’ve thought about this through the years, and of course, talked to clients. Of course I’d want great ideas; I’d want work to be done on time and on budget. But the other things I’d want are the things we all want in a relationship. So here’s what else I’d want to feel about each of you who worked on my business.

I can depend on you to tell me the truth. I trust everything you tell me.

I know you care about what’s important to me. You don’t just understand it, you care about it.

I know you will fight for my company. I know you want my company to succeed.

You help me succeed personally, and you’re really happy when I do. Sometimes it feels a little lonely trying to get my management to feel comfortable with the great ideas you bring me and with the cost of some of those ideas. You help me think through the case I should make. When I do well in my career, you’re almost as happy as I am. You want me to look good and do well.

You don’t play games. You don’t manipulate me or hold things back from me for your own purposes. You’re transparent.

You seem to care about me as a person. Maybe we’re not personal friends, and I know you don’t always agree with me, but when I make decisions that aren’t the ones you’d like, or have to tell you something wasn’t approved, you don’t think I’m a bad person, or a dumb person. You respect me, and you’re still in my corner.

You say thanks. When I get something approved, when I sign an estimate. You don’t say thanks once a year, you say it once or twice a week.

I think that’s what I’d want. And that’s what I’d get. Half a century of that philosophy, in support of a focus on great ideas, has served us very, very well. Congratulations. Keep it up.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

Steve Humble's Mid-Year Industry Report in SHOOT

August 18, 2015

Mid-year Survey Delves Into Streaming Content, Emerging Partnerships, Virtual Reality, Agency In-House Production

Respondents provide food for thought, predictions, observations, opinions, creative and business assessments. | A SHOOT STAFF REPORT |

In 2013, Netflix scored 14 Emmy nominations, a tally that rose to 31 in 2014 and 34 this year for such shows as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bloodline, andGrace and Frankie. Joining Netflix in the nominees circle from the streaming content arena is Amazon Prime which in this, it’s first year of competition, picked up a dozen nominations, mostly for Transparent.

“People say we are in the Golden Age of Television, but we’re really in the Golden Age of Streaming Content,” observed Leslie Sims, chief creative officer, Y&R New York, in one of her responses to SHOOT’sMid-year Survey.

This evolving TV landscape has sparked new working relationships and business partnerships. Hulu, for example, recently made its first deal to showcase a premium cable channel, offering paying subscribers Showtime programs, including Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan, for an extra $8.99 a month. Conversely Showtime extends its reach while getting its own stand-alone streaming service up and running.

The Hulu-Showtime deal underscores the competition to gain audience, particularly coveted young consumers who are prevalent among those living in the more than 10 million households that pay only for broadband Internet access with no cable package. Hulu is looking to challenge industry leader Netflix.

Similarly Showtime is looking to make its online mark as one of its prime competitors, HBO, this spring launched HBO Now for an additional $14.95 per month on Apple products as well as on Dish Network’s Sling TV service. Verizon too has started its own programming options.

Mobile platforms particularly resonate with the young demographic. Following its recent $48.5 billion purchase of satellite TV company DirecTV, AT&T is reportedly planning several products and new ways to integrate mobile phone and TV services.

Whether it be the AT&T/DirecTV mega deal or the newly struck relationship between Hulu and Showtime, partnerships of all stripes are forming throughout the industry—in entertainment and advertising as the lines between those two worlds blur even further.

“The biggest trend affecting 72andSunny is partnership-driven productions,” shared that agency’s chief production officer Tom Dunlap in SHOOT’s Mid-year Survey. “From collaborating with Vice for Call of Dutyto working with one of the more established MCNs (Multi-channel networks) like Maker Studios for YouTube influencer-driven productions, we are building relationships and systems that allow us to create a meaningful and creative partnership versus just financial transactions. We’re coming to those kinds of relationships with talent, too, as we did with Truth’s social influencer-led ‘Left Swipe Dat.’ We all have skin in the game.”

In one of his Mid-year Survey responses, Ben Davies, head of broadcast production, Droga5, shared, “‘Influencers’ with MCNs are not new trends, but are becoming more prevalent. Agencies are still in their infancy as to how they work with these partners and it will continue to evolve. This trend will definitely develop throughout 2015 and will lead to more exciting partnerships in content creation. More than ever, we are seeing that content is produced to meet the evolution of technology. The creative idea must always take the lead over technology, but I look forward to seeing more content that is interactive in its nature.”

Virtual Reality, evolving relationships
Such interactivity can manifest itself in many ways, one means generating particular buzz being virtual reality (VR). In his survey feedback, Michael Di Girolamo, partner/executive producer, Station Film, noted, “With Hollywood making a big leap into VR, advertising is lockstep with this evolving technology. A recentLA Times article forecast consumer spending at $5 billion-10 billion on VR by 2018, an astounding number. A good example of this is Google Help, a fully immersive live-action VR film from Fast and Furious 6director Justin Lin in collaboration with The Mill. There is no mistaking that entertainment and advertising will come together quickly as VR evolves and the gear becomes more readily available to consumers.”

Relationships are indeed changing among agencies, clients and production companies. Patty Brebner, director of integrated production, Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, Ore., related in one of her survey responses, “It’s not a new thing by any stretch, but for advertisers and agencies, the continued evolution of the Agency of Record model carries significant implications for the future of our business. Production suppliers and entertainment companies are now working directly with clients, and project based agency relationships are becoming more and more the norm. Dynamic engagement with the consumer requires frequently changing expertise outside the agency model of yesterday, and advertisers need more for less and need it quickly. Which requires a less precious, flexible and even more creative approach to production. Agencies, advertisers, entertainment and publishing companies all recognize the need for strategic and tactical partnerships outside of traditional brand advertising, which has brought exciting change to our model of working. Of equal significance is the trend to bring services in house, again to meet demands for faster, cheaper and more. It’s an exciting time, but also full of its challenges for more traditional agency models to keep up.”

The in-house agency dynamic, though, has its detractors. Director Jordan Brady of Superlounge shared in his Mid-year Survey feedback, “I’ve noticed a few ad agencies trying to produce in-house and I think that sucks. Sucks for the client, the creatives and obviously production companies. The conflict of interest and lack of specialization will mean less than award-winning spots. I’m sure it’s great for little demos but quality-wise its lowering the bar.”

For our Mid-year Report Card, SHOOT surveyed varied creative, production and post artisans and execs to gain their observations and assessments of 2015 thus far. Many also shared their views on what may be in store the rest of this year and beyond. SHOOT posed the following questions:

1) What trends, developments or issues would you point to so far in 2015 as being most significant, perhaps carrying implications for the rest of the year and beyond?

2) What work (advertising or entertainment) —your own or others’—has struck a responsive chord with you this year and why?

3) What work (advertising or entertainment) —your own or others’—has struck you as being the most effective strategically and/or creatively in terms of meshing advertising and entertainment?

4) Though gazing into the crystal ball is a tricky proposition, we nonetheless ask you for any forecast you have relative to the creative and/or business climate for the second half of 2015 and beyond.

5) What do recent honors on the awards show circuit (Cannes Lions winners, AICP Show/AICP Next Award honorees, AICE winners or Emmy nominations spanning comedy, drama, documentary, etc.) tell us in terms of creative and/or strategic themes and trends in the industry at large?

6) What new technology, equipment or software will you be investing in later this year or next year for your company or for yourself personally, and why? Or, tell us about what new technology investment you’ve made this year and why it was a good decision – or not?

Steve Humble,
EVP/managing director integrated production & development, The Martin Agency

1) The maker movement seems to be taking over agencies: more and more are adding in-house production services. In a market like Richmond, we have added capabilities over the years to give people a chance to be on the road less, all while being able to move more quickly to keep up with client needs. I have heard from friends that this is now common at agencies in the bigger production markets as well. I don’t see this totally replacing the traditional production company model, but it is going to take market share, which will have an effect over time on the service level that agencies and clients are used to getting from these production companies.

3) In this day and age, content is virtually at our fingertips. Platforms now exist so that people can watch content when they want, where they want – whether that be their tablet, phone, or computer. Usually, the only price to be paid was being forced to watch part of an ad before getting the chance to hit the SKIP button. The Martin Agency’s GEICO Unskippable work changed the game. These ads were not only packed with hilarious content, but by embracing the media, consumer habits, and frustrations, we were able to get people to do what every preroll ad before it wanted: full viewer engagement, all the way to the end.

5) I was sitting in the Palais on the last night of Cannes, watching the work of the Gold and Grand Prix Lions winners, and found myself laughing only a handful of times. This wasn’t a reflection of the quality of the comedic work that was submitted, it was just that there simply wasn’t as much of it. From Derek Jeter’s tearful farewell, to the slew of women’s empowerment spots, down to the technology being implemented on coasts to protect sharks and Aussie beach-goers, it seems that advertisers and agencies weren’t using comedy as often this year to communicate their messages. I am not sure if this more serious tone will continue in 2015, but I hope to laugh more next year in France.

Continue to SHOOT Online.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

The magic formula for hiring talent? There isn't one

August 14, 2015

Campaign US, By Kay Lawson, SVP/Director of Recruiting

Everywhere you turn in the advertising industry, talent emerges as the hottest topic. It’s an understatement to say that finding the right talent is a challenge. Agencies are desperately searching for the elusive magic formula — or at least some sort of plan to follow.

I have an ongoing fascination with the hunt for great talent and have often been asked to rationalize how I know a candidate is a great fit. The irony is that having a nose for great recruiting is seldom rational. Instinct carries more weight.

While there is no magic formula, in my experience it comes down to some pretty basic principles — with common sense, a bit of luck and good timing thrown in.

Screen for talent, hire for heart
Most companies hire for skill and fire for fit. On the front end, it’s important to screen for skills and experience but at the end of the day, cultural fit is key. We think of our culture as "Good & Tough": good to each other and tough on the work. That "good to each other" part is critical. All the talent in the world won’t compensate for someone who doesn’t fit your organization and share your company’s core values. We can teach people almost any skill, but we can’t teach integrity, character and work ethic.

Grow your own
In our quest for the shiny new object — that hot prospect from another company — we sometimes fail to realize that the best person for the job is within our own walls. Some of our most prized employees have grown and evolved at the agency. Hiring from within is a huge success, a sign of good nurturing and development, to spot and support someone with promise in another discipline.

See potential
No candidate will tick every box. Imagine what a candidate could become in your agency, with proper support and teaching. It’s worth the gamble to hire that future person rather than the one sitting right in front of you. Have the courage and take the chance.

Know what you want
Hiring the right talent starts with a thoughtful, detailed, realistic brief that the hiring manager and decision makers agree upon. Otherwise people go in different directions with how they interview, the questions they ask and their feedback on candidates. Then you have too many cooks in the kitchen. When you know what you want with everyone on the same page, you can streamline what otherwise can be a long and laborious interview process, dreaded by the agency and candidates alike.

Own it
The hiring managers must be part of the agency sell and own the journey to making a great hire. Make a personal, direct connection to the candidate. Hiring by committee never works, so a good hiring manager needs to be definitive and decisive.

The gut check
The art of recruiting is intangible. It’s that gut feeling in the pit of your stomach. If the best candidate looks good on paper and even has a majority of supportive interviewers, and you still feel unconvinced for some small, perhaps undefinable reason, listen to your instincts. Probe further and dig deeper, and if that doesn’t soothe your misgivings, walk away from the candidate. Recruiting, hiring and working together all boil down to relationships. Things that bother you when you’re dating can cause divorce down the road — same applies for hiring talent.

Kay Lawson is the SVP, director of recruiting, at The Martin Agency.

Continue to Campaign US.

Posted By: The Martin Agency

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