Agency, Heal Thyself?

Campbell-Mithun tapping an outside agency to market themselves was sufficiently unusual that we thought we’d ask the experts whether they believe it will work or fall flat.

Judy Neer, president, Pile & Co.
“I can’t recall another agency doing it, but it seems like a good idea. Agencies always admit they are their own worst marketers. And if you’re trying to re-energize what the world — and your own people — think of you, that’s a good thing. But it has to go deeper than logos and mantras. The proof will be in the work and in the cases.”

Dave Beals, president, Jones Lundin Beals
“I think it’s smart for an agency to bring in outside help. It’s the shoemaker’s kid’s syndrome. You work so hard on other people’s brands that you’re left with precious little time to figure out your own marketing needs. One of the reasons people hire agencies is they want a third party’s perspective on their brand, and, even for an agency, there’s value in having that third party come in and help adjust the brand. … My sense is that agencies can evolve and change their brands to a degree, but it has to be consistent with their core values.”

Joanne Davis, founder, Joanne Davis Consulting
“I wouldn’t say agencies neglect their brands, but most don’t focus on them in the way they would a client’s brand. They should treat [their own brand] as the most important one they work on, because if it suffers, nobody will come to you with any other brands to work on, either. … In general, the smaller agencies are better at this. It’s harder for the bigger agencies because they have bigger clients with bigger brands to work on. But some of them, it’s like: What are they doing?”

Abbott C. Jones, managing director, Admedia Partners Investment Bank
“If you reinvent the wheel too much, the wheel can fall off. For better or worse, you are what you are, and the best way to change perceptions is to do really good campaigns. If you want to enhance that with new logos, that’s fine, but you have to be very careful because brand names are agencies’ source of goodwill with clients and prospects. There are risks if you try to make changes.”