Category Archives: advertising legend

jwt happy with marco & fun in fairfield county

Harvey Marco is getting settled into his new job at JWT here in the city and though it is early, it sounds like the self-styled biggest agency in the country has pulled off quite the coup in enticing Marco back east.

From what I hear, the creative team is happy. The clients like him. And the man has a trail of success that goes back years.

Of course, even coming from Los Angeles, he is going to be in for a bit of sticker/culture shock…just check out this article in the Wall Street Journal about how the recent economic turmoil has hit Fairfield County, CT (where Marco lives):

Local Democrat Ned Lamont, in one fell swoop compared Greenwich’s money woes to the Japan malaise, Asian tsunami and the New Orleans flood.

“It really is a financial tsunami, and it could go either way,” said the multimillionaire telecommunications mogul who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006. “It took Japan 20 years to recover from their buying binge. How long does it take us to work through excessive leverage? That could take years not months. This is our Katrina.”

That’s right. He compared the recent economic issues to Katrina.

I know that a few big investors lost a lot of money (like $700 million dollars of money by one guy alone), but I struggle to see how that is in any way comparable to the swath of destruction and misery that Hurricane Katrina wrought in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana.

Marco, an unflashy regular guy, may need some time to adjust to a place like Fairfield County, a place where coddled rich folk consider losing money as tantamount to a large-scale people-killing natural disaster.

That said, it’s nice to know that you can still make a pretty darn good living doing this advertising thing.

harvey marco goes cross-country

The last time that Harvey Marco worked in New York, so the stories go, he threw a desk out a window in frustration/anger/creativity…lest that little tidbit make him seem like a dickhead, I have yet to run into anyone who has worked with or for him that has anything bad to say about the man personally. And his work speaks for itself.

A legend and a nice guy? Who would have thought it?

The New York story is relevant because the former ECD at Saatchi LA is on his way back to New York City to run things at JWT.

A strange move considering that he had moved to Los Angeles in the first place because of family ties – he and his wife are from southern California – and the fact the it’s JWT that we’re talking about, but he surely knows what he’s doing…I mean, were I to get a call inviting me to work at JWT with Mr Marco I can’t say that it would be easy to say no.

ad agency marries john travolta, reconsiders

Ad agencies are as much a brand as any client they might represent…which is why the Minneapolis shop formerly known as Kerker, named after 1960s ad man Dick Kerker and a solid regional shop known for solid, regionally-relevant creative, is re-branding.

The shop has moved from suburban Edina to the Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis, right across the Mississippi from downtown and definitely part of the vibrant, urban core of the city.

While the move is important in that it was kind of embarrassing to be the largest agency not in a cool part of town, the key change is the name change. Kerker is now Preston Kelly, after head creative Chris Preston and owner Chuck Kelly.

The original idea, to satisfy Kelly’s ego, was to put his name first…until they realized that it would be pretty silly to name an ad agency after John Travolta’s wife and reconsidered. Ego comes second to looking ridiculous…at least in this case.

kelly preston

kelly preston

Not to mention the fact that they would never win the SEO battle for their own company name.

protecting your brand name


Note to service people everywhere:  When I ask for a Coke please don’t give me a Pepsi instead.  At least don’t give me a Pepsi without asking me first if it’s okay…because it isn’t.  Pepsi is vastly inferior.

Like Kleenex, Xerox and iPod, Coke’s brand name has become the colloquial name for the category.  Coke stands for cola…even though in my case I wanted an actual Coca-Cola soda and not simply a cola.  Even though the other brands listed have very specific product differences that are distinctly different from the competition as the taste of Coke is from Pepsi.

From an awareness perspective it is all well and good that Coke has the share of mind that makes it synonymous with the category, but it is still irritating for a consumer like me, and it is worse because as the brand represents the category it stops representing the brand.

That is the challenge facing the iPod.  

There is one portable MP3 player on the market today.  The iPod is that one product as much because it is excellent as the whole system the Apple built to support it is excellent (good design, good iPod product, good music download system, good bundling, good song library, etc and so on).  Whereas in the early days when the iPod hadn’t yet clearly trounced its competitors, portable music players were called by their actual names, now everything is called an iPod.  Whether it is or not.

Not that most people have anything but an iPod, mind.

But what happens when a competitor comes out with a product and music delivery system that reached performance parity (or near parity) and offers a cost discount?

Will there be enough differentiation in the category between iPod and the competitors for consumers to actively disdain a product that isn’t a real iPod, or will it be as interchangeable to most people as Coke is for Pepsi?  Because if that happen, Apple is in trouble…Apple lives and thrives because of its branding and its mystique.  

Apple is hipster, cool, intelligently designed and kind of smug about it.

If the name iPod begins to represent the category and not the product, Apple loses that because its brand has been co-opted.  I am not one to count out Steve Jobs and Lee Clow, but storm clouds are on the horizon if they can’t keep iPod owners smugly condescending toward other MP3 players.

the advertising ivy league

There is an Ivy League in advertising. That is, there is a small group of shops that if you happen to get a job at one you will be shopping that experience and using it to open doors the rest of your career.

The Ivy League group does change from time to time as shops fade and upstarts blow past the competition, but a shop’s reputation counts for a lot and even if it’s fallen on hard times it still means something to say “I was at Fallon when Pat Fallon was there (or, even better, when Tom McElligott was).”

My number one piece of advice to newbies, be they creative, planning or account, is to get an Ivy League shop on your CV.

Like now.

The advertising Ivy League is a lot like Premier League soccer in that there is relegation – poor performance and you will be replaced – and a lot of people who start to hate you if you’re on top of your game for too long.

The current Ivy League is:

Crispin, Porter + Bogusky:

This agency is so hot, they could take a crap, wrap it in a ’64 Beetle, put a German accent over it and sell it to Volkswagen as advertising. Which they just did.

Goodby, Silversten and Partners:

Adweek’s Agency of the Year has a long history of top drawer work, San Francisco is a great location and when I was last there everyone seemed to drive a Mercedes. So…yeah.


Lee Clow, the work for Apple and a bunch of really good looking employees sort of sum up the positives of this Ivy Leaguer.

Wieden + Kennedy:

Best known for their Nike work and for Dan Wieden’s principled refusal to join the 4A’s, they have faced recent encroachment on their key account by CP+B but are still a place with “wow” factor.


This may be a contentious one (and they are in danger of falling out of the Ivy League) because of the recent account losses and other upheaval…but Fallon is still a place that opens doors because of its history of greatness.

There are a lot of agencies that are hanging around just on the outside of this select group. Shops like Arnold (which was recently in the Ivy League on the strength of their better-than-Crispin VW work), The Martin Agency and Butler, Shine, Stern need only that iconic campaign to be in with a shout while other, larger places like your DDBs and BBDOs are places where you can collect awards and do great work…they just don’t have the same cachet.

Though, to be fair, a Pencil looks good no matter which shop you won it at.

pep up your agency with a sex contest

AdAge’s Small Agency Diary, which is always an interesting read, had an article today by Jerry Della Femina protege Marc McLaurin about what to do to keep your agency trucking through the tough economic times (or just the hard luck times – slow new business development, shrinking client budgets, etc that all agencies hit every once in a while).

In said article was a gem of an idea:

Consider holding a Sex Contest. There was a time, not so long ago, when our agency held an annual (strictly voluntary) Sex Contest. Co-workers received ballots and voted for the person or persons they’d most like to sleep with in the agency, then, over the course of a week we all wrote ads and plastered them on the walls of the agency, vying for your vote. Think what you want, but nothing stokes the creative juices of an ad agency like a Sex Contest.

There may not be a truer line spoke than “nothing stokes the creative juices of an ad agency like a Sex Contest.”

It’s not just creativity that a Sex Contest would spur. People would clean up, dress better and be more polite if they were jockeying for votes and there may even be a mass of complete briefs given to especially attractive creatives as well.

Immoral? Only if you follow-through.