It's good to read about a couple of local ad agencies doing so well recently. Hanon McKendry landed national account Rayovac, and Alexander Marketing has opened a North Carolina office to handle increasing client work in the Raleigh area. Both are mentioned in the current Business Review.
The Hanon McKendry site touts its location in West Michigan in both text and photos. The site also has a fun blog, written by staffers, featuring commentary and links to all things creative.
The Alexander Marketing site is upfront about its locations in Grand Rapids and Chicago, with GR leading. I assume the Raleigh location will make the list soon.
I love how both firms promote their West Michigan location right up front. Why not? What's to be ashamed of? In fact, I would say that's increasingly an asset to be in places like Grand Rapids. The biggest creative innovations--Apple Computer, Google, YouTube--have come from a handful of guys in a garage. OK, it was a West Coast garage in all cases. But my point is, innovations more easily emerge from mavericks than from within the well-funded R&D division of major multi-national corporations.
In the ad biz, the Starbucks-swilling scribes on Madison Avenue in New York or the tony Rodeo Drive in LA have little concept of their target audience. In fact, they look down on us literally and figuratively when they commute at 30 thousand feet between the coasts. But their audience is here in the "flyover states." Plus, the big city shops remind me of the old saying: "If your only tool is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail." For many, the hammer is TV spots.
But the world is changing. The small nimble shops like the ones I've mentioned, not to mention the boutique agencies and sole practitioners--or two guys in a West Michigan garage--are more likely to come up with the innovative advertising solutions of the future. Those solutions will be needed to respond to a host of rapidly emerging and converging trends in the ad biz--Web 2.0, social media, consumer sovereignty, time-shifting, ad avoidance. The epicenter of the ad biz will not be where the TV studios are. It will be where the consumers are.
Bill McKendry has been saying for years that West Michigan ad shops need more respect from local clients. For too long, the "prophet in his hometown has been without honor," to paraphrase the Bible. Now that our talented local shops are getting more high-profile clients, they'll be getting respect locally and nationally. I'm feeling both proud and excited.
Memo to the Governor: forget about "pill hill" or "medical mile." Start selling this part of the state as "Advertising Avenue."