On this, the Independence Day of the United States, we pledge respect to the Independents of the Advertising World, and to the entrepreneurs who grow them, great Contributors to Our Industry, passionate, with creativity and drive to contribute disproportionate value to Our World.
"I totally enjoy all aspects of running a small, independent shop. First and foremost I take the responsibility of providing employment for our 50 employees and the stewardship of our clients marketing communications activities extremely seriously. I consider the operational flexibility associated with guiding and managing the business in accordance with our team’s best interest to be truly liberating. And finally, I find the financial reality associated with acquiring new business while nurturing and retaining existing client business to be both challenging and exhilarating."
– Jim Hettich, Chairman/CEO
M&T Bank We All Succeed - Byrne Dairy
"Running an independent agency allows us to not only take on clients, but also let go of clients for other than budget-related reasons. We love engaging with at least one promising and inspiring start-up as well as non-profits without having to follow protocol. If client relationships grow organically in a direction that does not fulfill its original purpose, yet the budget keeps growing, as an independent agency we can be crazy enough to let go of them. I would not give those abilities and the associated freedom up easily."
- Fabian Geyrhalter, CEO & Creative Director
"In my life I’ve been a parent three times now. Or, another way to look at it: I’ve logged 86 parent years, 33 of them attributable to birthing, nurturing and growing an advertising agency. Yes, as founder of Coates Kokes, I feel all the same pride, joy, frustration and whatnot that come with being a parent. This agency is my baby. And as you can probably tell, I really do love it. Creating something from scratch and knowing that the choices I make affect so many other lives — from employees, to clients, to the consumers of our clients’ products — is a responsibility I truly enjoy and never take lightly."
- Jeanie Coates, Founder & CEO
Oregon Zoo - Zoo Lights
"Independent agencies such as Martino Flynn embody an entrepreneurial spirit that drives all of us to put everything we have into growing not only our own business, but the businesses of our clients as well. I believe that the smaller, independent shops tend to be more innovative in nature, simply because we have to be to remain competitive. We stay on top of the changing tools and technologies available and integrate new techniques to deliver the best possible work to our clients."
- Ray Martino, Partner
"Independence gives us the freedom to be mainly culturally driven instead of financially driven. Even so, archer>malmo is consistently profitable, and we don't think that's a coincidence. Our success is based on the quality of our creativity – which really means we have great, talented people – coupled with our ability to develop and maintain trusting and lasting client relationships.
In my experience, I have seen that people are naturally more creative and productive when they're happy. So that commitment to culture directly benefits clients. I think that is a distinct competitive advantage for us over larger agencies. Our business, built on creativity, quality and solid relationships, is not capital intensive, and, that’s the beauty of it. We’re driven to do excellent work, but without the pressure of quarterly earnings.
Independence also puts us in charge of our own destiny when it comes to new business. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the industry’s pitch-oriented approach is broken — RFPs, spec work, consultant conflicts of interest, etc. — and how agencies should stand up to it. We are fortunate to be in a position to occasionally and politely say ‘no thanks’. Our new business comes mostly from relationships, referrals and organic growth, and our business is up significantly. We’ve hired more than 20 people already this year and the growth outlook is very positive."
- Gary Backaus, Principal, Chief Creative Officer
“For more than 25 years, RPA has worked to help brands stand out. We’ve been fortunate to have long-term relationships with clients and to be able to explore opportunities to strengthen and extend their brands. As a full-service advertising agency with more than 600 Associates under one roof, we work together with our clients to create interest, participation and conversations that flow seamlessly across all channels and ultimately yield loyalty and preference for their brands. Because of our independence, RPA doesn’t answer to a holding company, which permits us to keep the best interests of our clients, not shareholders, in mind at all times while also giving our associates the freedom and resources to do what’s right all the time.”
Bill Hagelstein, President and CEO
Newport Beach Film Festival Trailer
"The only entities to whom independent agencies are beholden are ourselves and our clients. That gives us freedom and flexibility to be nimble, to innovate around brand needs, and to always keep the best interests of the brand first."
– Jane Tamraz, CEO
"Running an independent agency in this era of digital chaos is simultaneously exhilarating, nerve-wracking and rewarding. But I believe a small, independent firm like ours has the ability to change, morph and react with greater speed and agility than behemoth agencies. We have learned to be very frugal with client marketing funds because we don’t have large retainers. And we have learned the tricks of doing more with less, while still providing stunning concepts and aesthetically dramatic ideas. Yet, it’s a tough act, especially in small markets where budgets are minimal. But our goal, so help us, is to do national-quality work, regardless of those handcuffs."
Dave Newbold, President & Executive Creative Director
"There's a freedom that you enjoy as an independent agency that I think translates into a competitive advantage, especially in a marketplace which increasingly requires you to be nimble, flexible and fast-moving. ISM is a 40-person independent shop with clients spanning the globe. We answer to ourselves and can make significant business decisions quickly. We don’t have to deal with the added pressure created by quarterly demands of financial markets and stockholders or the red-tape, bureaucracy and politics that are inevitable with any holding company.
The independent shop is ideally positioned to work within today's environment where problems have to be instantly addressed and action needs to be taken on marketing opportunities in real time. And with ISM’s long-standing expertise in the luxury consumer and the travel sector, we recognize the value in bespoke marketing solutions. We're free to choose our partners, alliances and resources so that our solutions are the best for our client, our needs and our business.
I have the honor of serving as the President of the MAGNET Global Agency Network which is comprised of nearly 40 independent agencies from around the world, and I have been able to witness first-hand just how vital and entrepreneurial and collaborative this group is. What I see is a total freedom to create, to develop intellectual capital, to innovate, to be original and to evolve — a freedom that is truly staggering. Perhaps the reality is that as independents, we know we always have to prove ourselves as we don't have the safety net or reputation or cushion of a holding company to fall back on. Maybe that forces us to continually find ways to outflank, outthink and outwork the big shops and deliver more value to our clients. It's something that I believe independent shops of the world are managing to do every day."
- Gary Leopold, CEO and President
Four Seasons Resorts | The World of Wonder, Your Four Seasons Life List
"Working in an independent shop like Morrison we're able to constantly reevaluate how we do things from a technology perspective. We like to tell our clients that we're 'technology agnostic,' meaning that we develop solutions that meet communications objectives, regardless of platform, device or environment. In doing so, we've been able to deliver high-value digital assets to our clients, that build business in a real meaningful way."
- Jeremy Heilpern, Vice President & Chief Digital Officer
"At Barkley, we pride ourselves on our fierce independence and entrepreneurial spirit. One cannot exist without the other. And Barkley wouldn't either."
- Jeff King, CEO
“Being a fiercely independent agency allows us to take on the things we are passionate about and be fearless in the way we get results. We work in an industry where change is sometimes the only thing we can rely on. So as a smaller, independent firm, we have the ability to be nimble and adapt to change and make decisions that best serve us and our clients. Thanks to our talented team, we have produced amazing work and continue to grow our business even during the toughest economic times.”
- Susie Ketterer, Principal
Ameren Illinois - Our Focus Forward
"Our focus is on doing what's right for the client and the agency — not shareholders. We see all the people who have a hand in what we're doing and where we're going on a daily basis. At any time, I can go knock on one of the original founders' doors (metaphorically, we don't have doors here) and ask him or her if they'd like to go grab a beer with me. And I love that we'll never be in a pitch up against Copacino+Fujikado New York."
Mike Hayward, Creative Director
#2DaysInSeattle Case Study
"Independent shops are critical to the industry. They come up with innovative techniques and approaches and try out new, unproven models. Yes, the few big holding companies control the majority of the power in the industry, but they often are looking at the indies as a barometer for what's next.
An independent agency produces a strong sense of camaraderie. The entire company bands together like punk rebels, feeling every bump and every triumph on a deeper level."
- Jason Harris, CEO/President
“Independence is not merely an opportunity to do what you want. It is however an opportunity to continually to attempt to do things that you think are right, to take a smart risks, any risks, without being beholden to some short term outside obligation or vision, some other entity, that insists on its own value systems. It is an opportunity to be able to put into action long term needs, access opportunities that may not have short term payouts, but may move an organization more nimbly into a better, smarter position with deeper deliverables in the long run. It’s the ability to take prudent risks based on one’s own vision, rather than someone else’s. It’s the opportunity to decide not to chase the dollar at every turn to make someone’s number. And it’s the opportunity to decide how to make the dollar work better for your clients and for your company not merely for an artificial bottom line demand. It’s an opportunity to push the envelope of thinking without the demand of instant return. It’s as close to being entrepreneurial and still demanding responsibility for results.”
-Peter Krivkovich, President & CEO