A Book for ‘Ad People’ with Brains

Adpulp: When you hire someone new, what’s the one thing that you need to see in them? David T. Jones: Four things. Hunger, honesty, creativity, and humor. One of the best things about Adpulp.com is the people we meet. The site opens many doors and behind many of these doors are amazingly unique people with […]

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Ad Chatter with Special Guest, David Blain, President of Saxton Horne in Salt Lake City

In this new episode of Ad Chatter, we hear from a special guest, David Blain. David is president of Saxton Horne in Salt Lake City and a mentor to me. I got my start in the agency business in 1997 at David’s agency, Blain Olsen White Gurr, which was a high-tech B2B agency in Salt […]

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The Suset Laboy Pérez Interview (A Preview)

Suset Laboy Pérez is a public relations professional in Brooklyn. Her job is to share her clients’ stories. This interview is about her story. She grew up in Puerto Rico. She has a doctorate in Latin American Studies. She runs Lalaboy PR with her sister, Maria. She also runs A Little Awareness, a coaching program […]

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The Rob Schwartz Interview (A Preview)

Rob Schwartz of ChiatDayNYC is one of my favorite people in the ad business today. To qualify for this kind of praise, you have to be smart and kind. Rob is both, and like all of my favorite people, he doesn’t bullshit. He’s down to earth and he makes time for people—qualities not always found […]

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The Adpulp Interview: Katherine Hollar Barnard

Katherine Hollar Barnard is a force, a dynamo, a badass. She’s the founder and CEO at Firesign in Kansas City, which offers “enlightened legal marketing” to its clients. We became friends two years ago and I want to mention why that is. This lady is fierce. I admire this in her, and in others. Katie […]

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The Adpulp Interview: David T. Jones

David T. Jones is a Chicagoan. He makes ads, he draws cartoons, and he started his own ad agency with two friends from Indiana University. Many of us already have an inkling about his perspective on the business thanks to his Ad Land cartoons. In this interview, we learn more about the man and the […]

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The Adpulp Interview: Ian Sohn

Ian Sohn is a global client lead at WPP. Formerly, Sohn was CEO, Wunderman Thompson (Central Region), and before that Managing Director at SapientRazorfish. He is also one of the advertising professionals who I most want to hear from on Twitter each day. This is the case because I value calm, patient people with an […]

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Åsk Wäppling’s Adland Torpedoed By “Nuisance DMCA”

Åsk Wäppling is a warrior in the midst of a legal battle to preserve 20 years of her digital work. Thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the lawyers who misuse it to intimidate everyday citizens, Adland.tv is now offline. DMCA criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures […]

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Enter Epica, The Creative Contest Judged By Journalists

ICYMI: Epica Awards are open for submission until October 7, 2019 When you submit your agency’s work to Epica, it will be judged by 200 trade journalists from around the world, myself included. In my opinion, trophies granted via peer review are a needless fixture in an industry where vanity is celebrated instead of shunned. […]

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Catching Up with Bart Cleveland: Art Director, Mentor and Entrepreneur

Bart Cleveland has a lot of energy and much to teach today’s up and coming advertising professionals. An art director by trade, he has been a partner in three successful ad agencies—Cleveland Clark, and Sawyer Riley Compton, both in Atlanta; and McKee Wallwork Cleveland in Albuquerque. Today, Cleveland is the founder of Job Propulsion Lab […]

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Spotlight on Northwest Creative: Copacino + Fujikado

SEATTLE—It’s Friday afternoon in August. The agency is empty but for a handful of dedicated souls working on a new business pitch. Mike Hayward, Executive Creative Director at Copacino + Fujikado, greets me warmly and shows me around the agency’s 7th-floor offices. C+F will enjoy its 20th anniversary in 2018. Hayward, a copywriter, started at […]

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Rova’s Joe Olsen Turned His Agency Into A SaaS Provider for Agencies

A decade ago many “digital agencies” were primarily production shops sub-contracting out to the big agencies in big cities. It was a profitable business for several years, but many clients were not fully satisfied. Something was missing. According to Joe Olsen, CEO of Rova, that something was the strategy that would wed digital production to […]

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Rebirth Announcement: On March 16, Nebraska Realty Is In Business

One of Omaha’s largest real estate firms – Deeb Realty, will change its name to Nebraska Realty, effective March 16, 2015. The real estate company hired Corporate Three Design in Omaha to create a new brand identity and roll it out across traditional media. (DISCLOSURE: Shawn Hartley, the publisher of this web site is Vice […]

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Digital Agency Model Struck By Lightning

PORTLAND—Agencies with digital capabilities are a dime a dozen today. On the other hand, an agency with digital DNA that also creates compelling retail experiences, new products/companies and traditional advertising, is rare indeed. Ergo, I feel like I may be in the presence of an albino gorilla here at Struck’s Old Town offices.

John Gross, Strategist/Account Director, says, “We do killer websites, but we get that digital is storytelling.” And therein lies the Salt Lake City-based shop’s magic formula. Struck has an awesome toolbox, but the leaders of the shop know that tools, regardless of their power and shiny attractiveness, are just tools. The real work is using the tools to build something wonderful.

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Another of Stuck’s defining characteristics is its habit of taking on challenger brands like Asics and Jack in the Box; in fact, the agency considers itself to be a challenger brand.

I ask if being an agency from Salt Lake City is a perception challenge that needs to be overcome, even though the agency’s record of winning big accounts out of market is well established. Struck CEO, Daniel Conner, sees Salt Lake as a strategic advantage, if anything, and recounts a story about how executives from Lennar were wowed by the agency’s “second to none” thinking (which led to Struck being named AOR by the home builder).

Matt Anderson, Creative Director in the Portland office says, “To be a great agency, you have to solves your cleints’ really messy problems.” He counts Jack in the Box as a good example. The brand has been running its iconic Jack character TV campaign for 18 years, but there was no reflection of the brand’s attitude in digital. Struck has successfully changed the score by bringing an irreverent and mobile-first approach to this QSR.

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Struck believes in being “greater than.” Conner says it’s not just about messaging, it’s about creating better experiences. Generally speaking we all want greatness out of everything we do, he says. “At Struck we believe we can make it a bit better than everyone else, for our clients and ourselves. It was an internal mantra and a common cause we rallied around,” says Conner, “but we didn’t quite understand what it was until we gave it a brand.”

Pauline Ploquin, Chief Operating Officer at Struck, provides some context for the mantra with a story about how Struck went above and beyond to build its hospitality client The Grand America Hotel two new retail stores, a toy store and a bakery, from the ground up. “We came in as a marketing partner,” says Ploquin. But when Struck saw that the hotel needed a stronger retail strategy, the results led the agency to cross over into product development. Ploquin adds that the toy store they created, JouJou, may expand into a retail chain.

Gross says, “We’re not afraid to take a stand and push clients outside their comfort zone. In digital, safe equals boring.”

Anderson says, “The reason we work at Struck and not in some basement at McCann, or somewhere else, is because we want to do things that matter to our clients.” He adds, “We have never been in a position where we felt free to do something that didn’t count. Everyday is a street fight. We’re just always fighting for our lives.”

Anderson brings the agency’s “greater than” philosophy full circle. He says, it’s a way to keep ourselves honest. We ask “Is this great enough? Because if it’s not, sooner or later we’ll turn into one of those small regional agencies that does ads for oil changes.”

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I have to say Struck’s insistence on always being “greater than” has delivered impressive results. While working on a project for Gatorade, for instance, the Struck team realized that the shortcomings in Radian6′s social listening tool could be overcome through better visualizations. So Struck made its own product, called NUVI, which is now a stand alone business with 25 clients already on board, including Berkshire Hathaway’s Business Wire and other agencies like Fallon and TBWA\Chiat\Day.

Conner says there’s a technology boom happening in Utah, a.k.a. the Silicon Slopes. “Struck as a digital creative agency is riding that wave. In fact, we helped generate a lot of this wave. A lot of our designers and developers have roots in this world.”

“Great ideas don’t just live on Madison Avenue anymore,” says Conner. “In order to execute these ideas, you need to be where the talent is, and there’s a ton of development talent in Utah. Same with Portland, the talent’s here.”

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