The Martin Agency is one of the largest advertising shops in the Southeast US, and a leading non-network agency within Interpublic. It is located in Richmond, Virginia, a city not otherwise noted for its ad agencies. There have been occasional attempts to establish a wider presence. However additional outposts in New York and London were later closed. Martin became part of the Interpublic portfolio in 1993, but operates as a standalone unit within the group, now aligned with the MullenLowe network, which provides representation elsewhere if needed. A spectacular run of account wins between 2007 and 2009 earned it the title of US Agency of the Year from Adweek, though that new business record has quietened considerably in recent years. Neverthess, it has been one of IPG's strongest-performing subsidiaries in recent years, attracting considerable acclaim for its multiple different comic campaigns for insurer Geico. The sheer volume and consistent quality of these ads is quite awe-inspiring, and in 2015, the hugely popular 'Unskippable: Family' ad earned Martin its first ever Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival. There was some turbulence within the agency at the end of 2017 with the ousting of its long-standing chief creative officer over allegations of harassment. A rebellion within staff over the handling of the incident led to the replacement of other members of the top management team. Kristen Cavallo is now CEO with Karen Costello as chief creative officer. AdAge estimated revenues of $120m in 2019.
Capsule checked 26th June 2020
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Historical profile information for The Martin Agency
Adbrands Daily Update 15th Oct 2019: "Every Flavour Welcome". There's a battle royale going on out there between food delivery companies, even more brutal in fact than the one between taxi services. Uber has already indicated that it sees a large part of its future in carrying food rather than people. DoorDash is the upstart US challenger to Uber Eats and GrubHub and has splashed out on a major new ad campaign via The Martin Agency. The spots are a delight, a mouthwatering mash-up of fabulous foods supported by clever copywriting and righteous raps from Gift of the Gab and MC Rhapsody respectively. They're guaranteed to get the saliva flowing. We don't have DoorDash here in the UK, but we're betting on some consolidation soon between the US providers and international services like Just Eat and Deliveroo. Or maybe it's time for Amazon to jump back into the sector with a big buyout.
Adbrands Daily Update 24th Jan 2019: UPS moved the bulk of its global creative account back to The Martin Agency after almost a decade at Ogilvy. The business had already been with Martin for several years before it moved to Ogilvy in 2009. However the account was put into review shortly after Martin's then-creative chief Andy Azula - who also personally starred in the agency's "whiteboard" ads for UPS - posted an online rant about bad service by Delta Air Lines. In the course of his rant he namechecked UPS several times, and a responding pushback from other bloggers generated embarrassing coverage for the delivery company. UPS is also now moving media from WPP's Wavemaker network to Martin's IPG sister agency Initiative.
Adbrands Social Media 7th Sep 2018: FRIDAY CLASSIC: Discover Financial "Peggy" by The Martin Agency (2010-13). Between 2010 and 2013, one of America's most popular – and most unlikely – advertising mascots was a charming but wholly incompetent customer service call-handler located in some remote and unspecified Eastern European country. The Martin Agency created this comic anti-hero for Discover Card as an illustration of everything that was bad about other credit card companies; not least their habit of outsourcing customer service to obscure foreign sub-contractors. Kevin Ragland was Martin's associate creative director in charge of the account, with Hal Tench as creative director. Copywriter was John Mahoney with Marco Howell as art director, and Baker Smith was the director for the whole series. ...[Story continues here]..
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Dec 2017: What's going on at Interpublic's The Martin Agency? Almost two weeks ago, the agency's chief creative officer Joe Alexander departed suddenly as a result of what were subsequently reported to be allegations of sexual misconduct. Though there were some further headlines regarding whether Alexander jumped or was pushed, that seemed to be the end of the matter. Yet this week, in another equally abrupt announcement, IPG named MullenLowe strategy chief Kristen Cavallo as the new CEO of Martin, without making any direct comment regarding incumbent Martin CEO Matt Williams or president & COO Beth Rilee-Kelly. Their status remains unclear as we go to press this morning. The press announcement also included an extraordinarily emotional statement from Cavallo, which suggested - probably for the first time to most outsiders - that there were other serious issues at play within the agency. "This is an important moment," said Cavallo. "I want people to feel the possibilities that exist for this agency. They are talking about us, but soon I hope they are rooting for us. As a strategist, I love opportunities for transformation, and feel fortunate to play a part, with the full support of Interpublic and its leadership, to help re-write the ending of this chapter. Obviously, there is a need for a new direction, and the culture has to evolve. To be the first female CEO of this agency, in this year, under these circumstances - the weight of this isn't lost on me. It's going to be hard, but we can do hard things. As a mom, I want my kids to see that, and to set an example that resilience and possibility matter." It appears that Alexander's sudden dismissal, and especially the way it was handled with great secrecy by senior managers, caused considerable concern among lower-ranking staff. The Martin Agency said it was protecting the identity of Alexander's accusers - to complicate matters, Alexander himself still denies the allegations - but staff wanted greater transparency, openness and discussion and are venting their dissatisfaction against the incumbent management team.
Adbrands Social Media 4th Dec 2017: "Star Captain: Lost Keys". Phew! Let's take a Christmas breather with the latest ad series for Geico from the hardest working agency in the insurance business, The Martin Agency. We're always astonished by the sheer volume of top-quality ad content Martin keep on generating day-in day-out for Geico. Currently, they're delivering four completely separate ads every week, each with its own associated additional click-through content or alternative edits. Some - this one for example - also require substantial amounts of post-production work. The workload is quite astonishing, yet there's almost never a dud among them. Incredible.
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