The Martin Agency – Advertising

“Historically, we don’t do well as incrementalists…All of the clients who have shown up over the past couple of years seem to appreciate that we have a very strong sense of ambition for them.”

[Martin Agency evaluated] every prospective account in terms of the aggressiveness of its agenda…finding a way to amplify the company’s creative power. As [Mike] Hughes studied Martin’s past performance, he saw that its best efforts often emerged from smaller, more-entrepreneurial groups that were closer to the ground. So in July 2004, he decided to back off, to devolve power to the teams below him. He restructured his creative department, hiring 8 new players and naming 11 people to creative director posts – a move that was radical in an industry where one or two alpha dogs usually run the show.

Hughes decided that the new teams would get a chance to work on multiple accounts, parachuting in where they were needed, or where they simply had a good idea to offer. By freeing each team to showcase its ideas in a more individual, immediate fashion, he essentially multiplied the firm’s creative voices. “What we’re trying to do is let the personality of the people who are creating the work shine through in a way that reflects well on the brands…”

Clan of the Caveman, Fast Company

Interesting read on Virginia-based advertising shop The Martin Agency, their staff, history, recent restructuring, and all the new business (to the tune of $775 million) they’ve recently acquired. 

Having worked for a mid-sized ad agency, I find Martin’s staff restructuring (additional creative directors, smaller teams) refreshing and much-needed. There are too many great ideas and talents in most mid-sized and big agencies for us to think that all the good ideas have to come from a handful of people who are probably 35+ years old and spend half their time climbing the corporate ladder, jockeying for title/position/pay, and watching their backs.