Before asking that question, it makes sense to point out the obvious. Zeus Jones is not a person. Zeus Jones is an agency in Minneapolis that is frontlined by former Fallon President Rob White and Director of Strategic Planning Adrian Ho as well as a bevy of decorated interactive creatives who have enough awards to sink a mid-sized watercraft.
Zeus Jones is also one of the hottest and most enigmatic shops around…there is a buzz about them, but also a little confusion about them. After all, they don’t even have account people.
But who are they? And what makes them so interesting? I wanted to find out and Rob White wanted to answer. Or at least he felt like he had to answer so I didn’t rip his agency on my blog…even though I am not that kind of guy.
Whatever the reason he agreed to answer some questions, it’s a quick way to find out just who Zeus Jones is:
Rob, thank you for taking the time today. Let’s start with an obvious question, what made you and Adrian break away from Fallon and start your own place?
We believed the world of marketing was in flux, creating an environment for the next wave of start-ups to challenge conventions, experiment with new business models, and generally mix things up. We wanted to be part of that excitement. It would have been very hard, if not impossible, to do the kinds of things we’re now doing from within an existing agency structure.
You wanted to do it differently…so what makes Zeus Jones unique?
It’s always hard to say what makes any company unique. Somewher out there might be another company set up similarly. That said, I don’t know of any. We have a philosophy of business that urges the use of marketing funds to DO things for people rather than SAY things to people. We call that “marketing as a service”. A few other companies may also talk about that idea, but we have focused every aspect of our business, culture and operations on it.
There’s more to their idea of Marketing as a Service right here:
When did you know that the time was right to strike out on your own?
When we were spending the bulk of our days in meetings that made no sense, or justifying activities that also made no sense.
Why stay in Minneapolis?
We love the winters [Ed note: this was typed with classic British understatement].
What is your vision of Zeus Jones as it grows over the next few years?
We hope to remember why we started in the first place and not fall into the growth for growth’s sake trap. We’d like to make our mark on the business world by showing how marketing can be redefined (or more broadly defined).
Planning is a key function at Zeus Jones, what is the role of the planner at your agency?
Planners at Zeus Jones are part of the alchemy that results in ideas for actions that can build our clients’ business. Planners help define the business problem and context, and drive the strategic framework for our solutions. Often this will include articulating a vision for a company or brand. The big difference between the role here vs an agency is that we look at how marketing (ie actions) can solve a business problem rather than at how communications can solve a marketing problem.
Do you have any advice for young planners trying to break into the business?
Yes. Don’t limit your strategic thinking to communications. Marketing is about driving demand for a business, which means understanding how to build that demand (a great role for planners). There are all sorts of ways to learn these skills. Client-side opportunities are one. Consultancies are another. Traditional agencies should not be the default option for budding planners any more.
Zeus Jones doesn’t have any account people. Why?
Because the job of account people is primarily to manage relationships. We have set up our business to solve business problems on a project by project basis. If we’re successful that will build healthy relationships as a by-product. What this means is that the people responsible for the strategies and ideas have a direct, unimpeded relationship with the clients. Our clients like that. It may not always be the most efficient way to run the business but we like it.
What is the ideal client for Zeus Jones?
An open-minded person inside a progressive company where boundaries between departments are blurred in order to serve the customer better.
If this just wasn’t enough of the good stuff and you want to learn more about Zeus Jones, click here to check out their totally sweet website.