Looking to topple IPG, WPP, Omnicom and Publicis? Who isn't! Learn the tricks of the trade from Hoffman York, one agency that fought for their independence from Saatchi and Saatchi and won.
Tom Jordan, Hoffman York's creative director and author of recently published 'What's a Saatchi and How Come We Have Two of Them?' dropped by adland to share some pearls of wisdom with you adgrunts.
Click continue to read about Hoffman York and Tom Jordan, the Master of Marketing in the Mid-West!
Tom, Before we plug your book, let's plug your agency. Please tell the good folks at adland a little bit about yourself and your agency ' Hoffman York.
We're about $90 million in billing...75 people...and we try to be more
than just an advertising agency. We pride ourselves on solving problems, overcoming obstacles and maximizing opportunities for our clients. The solution isn't always advertising.
For example, for Quaker State Motor Oil we created a clear package for
their synthetic oil, offered "Micro Q'filtration which was the clearest, cleanest oil you could buy." This idea alone helped propel the brand. Sales sky rocketed...without a ton of media advertising.
We try to operate with a collective ego and put the product, not the people, on a pedestal.
It's our mission to be the place everyone wants to work.
We've won quite a few creative awards.
We've assembled a very talented, very fun, group of people.
Me? I'm the coach. But a player coach. I think anyone who has "creative" in their title better be creating. So I contribute whenever I can.
Your agency is notorious for running prank ads on April Fool's Day.
Do you have a personal favorite?
My favorite is the five-wheel drive car we created for our first April Fool's prank. Coming from Argentina, the Caballo was the only car to offer suspension for the steering wheel from the main frame to offer "clarity of command". It seems that every auto manufacturer was rushing into R&D to find out what the hell was going on.
Hoffman York was named one of Ad Age's Top 20 "Creative Agencies to
Watch" in 2001. Did this accolade inflate the egos of your Creative department?
Not at all. We realize that all positive notoriety is short lived.
Tom, your agency merged with Tom Reilly Advertising in May of this
year. How's that working out for you?
We won the first piece of business we pitched together... the largest health care network in Chicago. We beat 15 other agencies. We're being included in a lot of new business pitches.
Tom Reilly and I worked together years ago at Burnett. He is one of the most gifted strategically minded creative people I have ever met. This will be a lot of fun.
You started in the business in Chicago at Leo Burnett and Tatham, Laird & Kudner. Will this merger allow you to return to your creative roots?
I never really left my creative roots, but this will provide me an added opportunity to work more with good friends in Chicago.
The title of your new book "What's a Saatchi and How Come We Have Two of Them?" is based on the fact that Hoffman York was the first agency to successfully buy its freedom from Saatchi and Saatchi in 1984. Now, do you have any advice for Saatchi and Saatchi to buy their freedom from Publicis?
Do they want freedom? I wonder. Freedom comes with risk. That's why the
book I wrote is about survival.
Your book is chock full of anecdotes from Hoffman York. Besides offering excellent advice to small and medium size shops, do you also dish out dirt on your clients and co-workers?
No, that's not really our style.
In addition to showcasing your agency's work, "What's a Saatchi..." is also a survival guide for small independent shops. Why share your hard earned knowledge with your competitors?
I was a pole vaulter in high school. In fact, I even set the school
record. I showed a lot of people exactly how to do it. Few could.
At least 90% of all advertising is terrible. Who's to blame?
I disagree. That's like saying 90% of all children are ugly.
Unless we completely understand the objectives of the advertiser, it's hard to say what's good or bad. A lot of award-winning campaigns haven't been successful in selling product.
I think we have to remember the real business we're in...helping people
sell stuff. It's not about us. Even though we are deeply involved in the work...it's not ours...it's theirs.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that marketers are losing confidence in "brand building" advertising and are more interested in direct marketing. Do you favor one over the other?
Horses for courses. It depends on what will have the most impact. We focus more on "business building" than just "brand building". Clients tend to want to sell something. We always take an open-minded view of each client's needs. Whatever will work the best...that's the course we pursue.
Tom, it has been a pleasure. Keep up the good work. Thanks for your time and good luck to you and your book!