The cycle repeats itself

If you follow an industry long enough, you start to see the same patterns and cycles repeat themselves every so often. The ebbs and flows of staffing as clients come and go through different shops. The shouting from the rooftops PR pushes, followed by periods of radio silence.

This one is no exception.

Every decade or so, there’s another wave of new businesses that make an appearance. Call them agencies, call them creative shops — whatever label you choose to put on them, it happens like clockwork. Some survive, some thrive, and others wilt away.

Often, those new agencies are formed by senior or experienced staff from other agencies that want to be in charge of their own destiny.

A decade ago, it was the likes of Carew Co., Red Sky, Sovrn, The Agency Creative Network, and Mitchell Palmer who made their grand entrances.

And like clockwork, another chapter in this story is being written.

It started a little over year ago with Duft Watterson, whose namesakes split from Stoltz Marketing Group to hang up their own shingle. Our friends at Boise Dev recently published a piece on them.

It continued earlier this year with the launch of Against. Founded by former Drake Cooper staffers Jennie Myers and Brad Weigle, Against bills themselves as a creative company that “focuses on helping companies define their purpose and rebel against the norm.”

Collectively, Myers and Weigle have over 20 years of experience, and have worked with clients in myriad industries, from finance and technology to consumer packaged goods, real estate and much more.

In addition to launching Against, Myers and Weigle have also developed a unique certificate of innovation and design (ID:EA Certificate), offered through the College of Innovation and Design at Boise State University.

Once again, the cycle repeats itself. The question remains — who else will join this latest group?

Big boulder in a little pond

You’ve seen it. And probably done it more than once. You’ve picked up that big, heavy rock and heaved it into a pond.

First there’s the big splash.

Then the ripples spread. And spread.

Ripples in water

As we rolled into 2018, the boulder dropped with the seemingly abrupt departure of Ward Duft and Jill Watterson from Stoltz Marketing Group.

Shortly thereafter, a new player emerged in the Boise agency game, and at least two other shops have been pulled into the fray.

The first ripple: Stoltz Marketing Group

The departure of Duft and Watterson left an obvious hole at the top of the agency, as they represented two-thirds of the new leadership announced in the summer of 2017.

The vacancy was short-lived, however, as SMG recently announced that Jaime Ekman has taken the helm of the company as president and COO. This marks Ekman’s second go-around with the company originally founded by her father, Ken Stoltz. She most recently spent the past eight years with Castor & Pollux, now a Nestle Purina brand.

Shortly after taking the reins, Ekman appointed Kate Holgate creative director, and announced that Crissie McDowell will be rejoining the agency as associate creative director. Holgate has been with SMG for 16 years, progressing from art director to associate creative director and now to her current role. McDowell rejoins the agency, having been an art director from 2006 to 2015.

The second ripple: Duft Watterson

Shortly after their departure from Stoltz Marketing Group, Duft Watterson emerged as a new addition to the agency lineup in the Treasure Valley.

According to their website, Duft Watterson is led by Ward Duft as co-founder, CEO and creative director, and Jill Watterson as co-founder, COO and head of client service. Joining them are two other former SMG colleagues, Marc Cowlin as director of content and digital, and Tony Hart as associate creative director.

Rounding out the Duft Watterson team is designer Madeleine Godwin, Kesey Badgett handling branding and digital, accounting specialist Talia Spencer, and Lisa Cloyd as account manager.

Duft Watterson is based in Boise, and also has a presence in the San Francisco bay area.

The Oliver Russell connection

How does Oliver Russell factor into all of this, you ask? The answer, of course, lies in the moves outlined above. At the end of her first stint with Stoltz Marketing Group in 2015, Crissie McDowell departed to join Oliver Russell, where she’s spent the past three years as a senior art director.

The DaviesMoore association

Similarly, DaviesMoore factors into the drama, as Lisa Cloyd spent a short stint with them as director of client services, before joining Duft Watterson in January.

The rest

Time will tell what — if any — other fallout there will be as a result this shakeup in the Boise-area agency scene. Is there more to the story? Most definitely. But those are details that are best left to the parties involved to share (or not share) as they see fit.

On a personal note:
As some may know, I spent several years at Stoltz Marketing Group, and have worked with many of the people mentioned here. That being said, I’ve done my best to be as impartial an unbiased as it relates to these changes. Hopefully it came across that way.


The leadership exodus continues

On a national level, at least.

Last week, we came across two separate stories via Adweek about senior-level departures. At Young & Rubicam, global strategy officer Sandy Thompson and North America chief strategy officer Dick de Lange are both leaving the agency. Meanwhile, at George P. Johnson, president Denise Wong is leaving — rather unexpectedly it seems — to pursue “another opportunity.”

More recently, Ian Schafer, founder & former CEO of Deep Focus and Chief Experience Officer at Engine USA, announced that he’s  stepping away from that role at the end of the year, with an eye on “something(s) new.”

While turnover and staff departures — even at the senior level — are nothing new in the agency business (much of its growth has happened that way), it seems that these days the “new opportunities” no longer involve starting up or joining a new agency. Rather, the destinations appear more likely to be outside of the agency business altogether — either moving to client-side roles, consulting firms, tech startups, etc.

It’s not the first time the talent pendulum has swung away from the agency side, and it certainly won’t be the last. The question remains, however — is the exodus of talent getting worse each time around, or are we just more aware of it?

Something to ponder.

Ten years

Ten years. It’s really been that long, huh?

Ten years ago today was the first post on the Idaho Ad Agencies blog. It wasn’t anything terribly interesting – just a quick welcome to the site. Who would have thought that it would last this long…

Holy crap.

While the updates may be a little more sporadic than they have been in years past, I’d like to say thank you to everyone that has visited, and continues to visit the site. It’s been fun, and that’s why I keep doing it.

Thanks for putting up with me.

Let’s keep this crazy train rolling.


Yesterday afternoon I was able to get together with a couple of colleagues here in Boise. We talked about the usual things — families, life, kids, etc. We also talked a little shop, of course. It was a good chance to catch up with some old friends that I haven’t seen in far too long.

But later that evening I had a strange realization — in some ways, I’ve inadvertently become the Kevin Bacon of the agency world here in the Treasure Valley. Between the places I’ve worked and the people I’ve worked with, there’s a good chance you could connect anyone from Seattle to Salt Lake and points far beyond through me.

Nothing more than a humorous observation on my part, of course. But for Pete’s sake, please don’t start calling me Kevin Bacon.

Crap. Too late. It’s going to be a thing, isn’t it?

An abundance of alliteration

Alliteration is nothing new (its first known use is circa 1624), and it can turn a nice phrase, like wild and woolly or babbling brook. But lately, there seems to be an abundance of it. Case in point:

Seen on a billboard: Your Posterior Plumbing Experts

Heard on the radio: Snot Specialists and Test drives for Testes.

Well done or going for a cheap laugh?

Know How Indeed

While watching the Daytona 500 a little over a week ago, I happened to catch this spot from NAPA:

It made me laugh, enough so that I posted this shortly thereafter:

To which the folks at NAPA quickly replied to with this:

A perfectly appropriate response, and a great example of an organization recognizing that social is not a stand-alone channel, but rather something that can be woven throughout everything. And given the speed of their response, I have to assume that – much like Oreo during the Super Bowl – they knew exactly when their spots were scheduled to run, had the right people in the room, and had a plan in place for their responses.

And now, a little more than a week later, I’m writing about the entire thing here. NAPA Know How indeed. Well done to everyone behind this.

Doing things differently

Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve heard so many people, companies, brands, etc. talk about how they ‘do things differently’ than anyone else. About their patented, trademarked, put-our-seal-and-watermark-on-it way of doing things.

But here’s the thing — when everyone is ‘doing things differently’ in their own way, no one really is. It’s a sentiment that was similarly echoed in David McCullough’s commencement speech to Wellesley High School recently (which you should really watch if you haven’t taken the time to yet).

So, the question I’ll pose to you dear reader is this: What can you do differently today? Does it have to be something earth-shattering? No. Take, for example, this recent piece for Coca-Cola:

In reality, there’s nothing spectacularly unique about the content. It came from security cameras that are everywhere you look. But by using that footage differently, Coca Cola found an entirely new source of content, all while maintaining – and in many cases reinforcing – their Happiness brand position.

What can you do differently today? Tomorrow? Next week? Think about it, and then go do it.

So What’s Next?

Well dear readers, it’s your turn. I’d like to hear from you — what would you like to see and/or read about here?

Granted, events, job openings, new hires and such are a given – those will always be part of the coverage. But what else would you like to see or know more about? Work that various shops have been doing lately? Industry trends? Loosely related news with a local spin?

It’s your turn – fire away.