The Voice of the Underdog®
OK, so this isn’t really an expose per se, but it’s news worth sharing so keep reading. LOOMIS recently acquired one of the most successful design firms in Dallas. We asked the agency’s public relations director, Jacy Cochran, to sit down with Kendall Creative founder, Mark Platt, to find out how that’s working out and what it means for clients.
Jacy: You’ve run Kendall for 17 years and have developed a reputation as one of the region’s best design shops. Why would you want to merge into a full-service advertising agency?
Mark: I’ve had clients and friends ask me why I made this decision after living the boutique dream for so many years. The truth is, it’s something I had been thinking about for quite a while and it just felt like the time was right.
This move fills a real business need for both firms. The work we’ve done at Kendall has attracted a lot of great clients over the years across a wide variety of business categories. Nothing has been more rewarding than helping them grow and succeed. At the same time, nothing has been more frustrating than watching clients move to larger agencies because they needed services we didn’t offer. Now, as part of the LOOMIS family, we have access to everything our clients need – strategy, media, broadcast creative, web work, you name it. So now we’re fully equipped to grow with our clients as they succeed and require more services.
It works for LOOMIS, too. As a larger agency they’ve had to pass on some really nice, but smaller, client opportunities over the years. LOOMIS engagements are generally full-service agency-of-recordrelationships but not all clients need or want that kind of commitment. On the other hand, at Kendall we’ve built our reputation on project assignments. With the Kendall team under the LOOMIS roof we’re able to help a larger base of clients and that’s good for everyone.
Jacy. OK, so it made good business sense. Did anything else about the opportunity appeal to you?
Mark: No doubt. It’s just more fun to be part of a vibrant team like LOOMIS. I’ve known several of the agency’s leaders for many years and I really respect and admire the culture they’ve built. The unpredictable nature of the agency business can be awfully tough on culture, but these guys are super committed to building and maintaining it. There’s a lot of talent in the advertising and marketing world, but it’s the culture that really separates one agency from another. At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, “Do I really enjoy working with these people?”
The other thing that appealed to me was the company’s own rock solid brand positioning. LOOMIS is achallenger brand agency, and that’s a strong differentiator in a world of agencies that all do essentially the same thing. LOOMIS knows who they are and everybody on the team embraces the agency’s identity. And clients dig it because it’s all about making their resources work harder and go further. Kendall’s always been oriented that way, too, so we felt like that was a strong fit right off.
Jacy: So how did you know the Kendall team would enjoy working with the LOOMIS team?
Mark: We agreed to do something that I think is fairly unusual in the world of mergers and acquisitions. They let our team move into their space rent free for a full year just to make sure we all played well together. There was no binding commitment either way. If either of us decided the deal didn’t look good for any reason we could simply walk away with no hard feelings. I liked the trust I felt from them.
Jacy: It must have worked out because you officially merged in with LOOMIS in January after dating for a year. What has it been like?
Mark: We love the energy and hustle of hallways teaming with enthusiastic agency folks. The place just has a good positive vibe to it. It’s the culture thing again. But, we also found the LOOMIS team to be naturally collaborative, which isn’t always the case with ad agencies. Kendall is a team of creative folks, of course, so part of the opportunity was building a larger more diverse creative team for all of us. We all jelled from the start. They’ve got great creative leadership from Tina Tackett, who’s been with the group for 15 years. It’s also been fun bringing my yellow Lab to the office. She plays well with the other dogs, too.
Jacy: So what will be the role of Kendall Creative going forward?
Mark: We’re really functioning like an agency within an agency. Kendall will still be called Kendall and we’ll continue to focus on design and project work, which allows LOOMIS to say, “yes” to client prospects more often. It also allows Kendall to offer more services to clients as they grow, so they don’t have to leave and go through the process of finding other partners.
As for my role, it won’t really change much. A lot of creative directors with 20 years experience find themselves high up the organizational ladder in supervisory roles. I love doing the work too much to put myself in a position like that. I’ll continue to operate just as I always have with the same hands-on approach I’ve taken since day one. My focus was and will continue to be helping build our client’s brands and differentiate them from the competition.
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