As MOB Media prepares to celebrate its 20 year anniversary, I thought this would be a great time to talk about advertising and the economy. For some reason, my blogs are focusing on the economy lately....one has to wonder why.
Everyone hears that you have to advertise in a down market to keep your market share and that it's even a great opportunity to blow your competitors away and actually GAIN market share. While I'm on that bandwagon, this is not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about how 20 years ago (1989) when we started our agency, the country was in a recession in which your average Wall Street snot-nosed kid today wouldn't know much about. That's right, the three "wise guys" decided to start an agency in this country's biggest recession since the Great Depression. What foresight!
From 1987-1992 (MOB Media's formative years), the median home prices dropped by more than a quarter, in one day in 1987 the Dow lost almost a quarter of its total (today that would be the equivalent of over 3000 points in a single day!), construction declined and unemployment was rampant. This scenario sound somewhat eerily familiar to anyone? For those nit picky financial historians, the Dow actually did end up with a uptick overall in 1987, but we all knew we were in for a wild ride for awhile. Again, the worst time for an ad agency to start-up, right? Well...not really.
What Jeff and I kept telling ourselves back then, was "hey, some of the biggest agencies in the world started during the Depression!" And that's true, and that's what is so promising -- if I can use that word in a downturn -- about today's economy. The Mad Men of yore, Young & Rubicam, William Esty, Leo Burnett, Bates, Barton & Bowles, Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn (better known as BBDO) all started during the Great Depression! So despite the economy, despite new rules and regulations for advertising, these pioneers made it through our country's worst economic period. More than that, they flourished even though advertising expenditures went from $3.5 billion in 1929 to $1.5 billion by 1933!
How and why they succeeded is for another "blog day." Suffice it to say...and this is critical... new media and technology were surfacing and these agencies were able to craft a better agency because they understood the new world order and could adapt to it. And yes, Virginia, radio was considered a new medium back then!
Fast forward to today. MOB Media has gone from a small boutique servicing mainly outdoor and print advertising to a full-service direct marketing agency with experience in Web Development (since 1995!), Lead Generation, Direct Response, Interactive Design and so much more. We're still relatively small, but we now can turn on a dime and see the future so much better than we did in 1989. We did it mostly by the skin of our teeth, including a fire in 1994 that devastated our entire office. But we always had resolve and were looking out for what was on the horizon. In fact, at times we were too far ahead of the curve. I can remember pitching Victoria Secret about a thing called a web site! (a blog for another day.)
Our hope is that with all the new social and consumer powered media that we take a strong step forward for our next 20 years and that some of the smaller agencies forming now will join us for the next big revolution! Who's with us?