Check, Check. Ladies and Gentlemen, JUNKSHOT.

Live at the LA Battle of the Bands 9.17.15.

Welcome to the lobby


  • Retreat XX

  • Just What The World Ordered

  • The Unforgettable Ben McCool

  • 24 Days To Air

  • Hong Kong

  • Greetings from White Hart Lane

  • Small Reward

  • A Cowboy By Any Other Name

  • A Newbie's Retreat

  • Some Stories Tell Themselves

  • Steve N Steve 2

  • 2wenty5ifth Floor

  • Why Is Our Logo a Cowboy?

  • Twist. Release.
    Let there be 989.

  • A Tale of One Thompson

  • Steve N Steve

  • Finding UNDENIABLE

  • Welcome to Palisade, Colo.

  • A Pret-ty Pret-ty Pret-ty Good Stunt.

  • Camp Dirt: The Filthiest Paradise on Earth

  • Welcome to Boomtown. A look at our year so far.

  • February 2nd. FourSquare. And the power of a groundhog.

More   Back  

Looking to ride with us in Philly or Santa Monica?

We just celebrated our 20th year of taking the entire agency away for 2 days and 2 nights of reaffirmation of who we are and prognostication on who we’re about to be. These are this year’s opening remarks from Steve Red that offer up the reason it’s all so important to us.

You were all here 20 years ago.

So was every person who’s ever worked here. Maybe not as you, but as part of a belief that started with 2 young creatives in an attic in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

We didn’t set out to make an ad agency.

And everyone that’s ever joined us, no matter how long they’ve stayed or when they’ve come, has had at least a little of that belief inside them.

You didn’t find that belief when you got here. It’s the reason you got here. You were already us. You already believed that it’s better to be a band of renegades. Rebels. Insurgents. Outlaws. Cowboys. You already believed that it’s better to ride out on the fringe. You already believed that it’s more satisfying to leave the first tracks. And that it’s better to be the ones storming the castle than to be the ones living safe and content behind its walls. You were all born with that little voice inside your head that screams bloody murder if you let up. Or stop short. You all came with itchy trigger fingers. You all already pushed yourselves to punch above your weight and stick and move until you find a way inside. You already wanted to take care of business on Main Street at high noon with the town’s people watching. Maybe outnumbered but never outdone.

You already instinctively knew “the idea is the boss” and that “all” is better than “one” and that “we” is better than “I”. Because you all came with humble inside you right next to hungry. And restless inside you right next to respect. You already believed that new territory is the only territory worth claiming. You already wanted to be unforgettable. You already knew how to see with your gut when the lights go out. And block out the fear when the spotlight goes on.

You didn’t find that belief when you got here.

Belief is the reason we’ve grown and changed every year for 20 years.
But at the same time, it’s the reason we’ve remained constant.

It’s belief that’s run through the building and the people in it, no matter when, no matter who. It’s the reason we’ll look down the wave of tomorrow…and drop in. It’s the reason we’ll lean out over the edge with only the strand of a new idea holding us up. It’s the reason we’ll continue to go beyond making ads and onto discovering ways to create influence and lasting affect. It’s why we’ll continue to seek companies and people and partners that believe they can leave a lasting imprint on the world.

It’s why we’ll always stand together. And charge over the hill together. It’s why we’ll always boil with beautiful idealism and stubborn innocence. It’s why we’ll always ride fast; drink hard and challenge the whole world to fucking bring it on.

It's why you're here.
It's why you've always been here.
It's why we've done this for 20 years.
And it's why we'll begin it all again tomorrow.

Advertising is a pretty sweet gig every day. But every now and again advertising kicks it up a notch and takes you on an even more beautiful ride than usual.

And we’re on one of those rides right now.

We were recently named AOR for Kellogg’s brand, Morningstar Farms. Kellogg is one of the most iconic companies in the land and Morningstar Farms is one of the hottest brands in their portfolio. So that’s a really fab achievement, but not the “beautiful ride” we’re talking about. We’re talking about the charge and the challenge they’ve handed us.

First a little context.

Morningstar Farms is a veggie foods company. They make it possible for people to eat less meat and more veggie. And it turns out that these days a lot of people are looking to do just that – over 2/3 of the country by the count of folks who know such things.

What’s so good about that? Well, the answer to that question is what’s making us so smiley lately. Because just about everything is good about people eating less meat. It’s good for humans on just about every level – from the “my pants are feeling looser” level to the “wow I feel tip top” level.

No big whoop; just helping to make the world a nicer, healthier place.

And...it's good for the planet.

In fact, the more people that follow through with their intention to swap veggie for meat, the more the earth kicks back on its axis and says, “what was I so worried about?” We’re talking less greenhouse gasses, more saved water and a whole bunch of cows, sheep and other furry creatures breathing a huge sigh of relief.

So back to our charge – Morningstar Farms has given us the job of making a campaign that shares all that good news and in the process helps a whole lot of people do a whole lot of good for…well, everyone and everything. No big whoop; just helping to make the world a nicer, healthier place.

So yeah, this biz is constantly amazeballs (The Oxford English Dictionary says it's a word so why not use it?). We get to see stuff many don’t see and go places many don’t get to go. And every once in a while, we’re given a chance to change the world for the better. And when that happens, it’s one hell of a beautiful ride.

Be unforgettable. That’s our mission. Easy to say. Hard to live up to. But that’s what we strive for every day. And it’s about way more than just the work. We want to be unforgettable in everything we do. Our emails, our meetings and our toilet paper. (OK, our toilet paper isn’t unforgettable…but we should work on that.)

It’s not easy. And every so often, someone unexpected in the agency comes along and knocks our mission out of the park all Michael Jack like. (FYI, if you don’t know Michael Jack, you ain’t from here. Google best third baseman ever.)

In the last few months, Ben McCool, our office manager with the sweet name, travel booker, front door-wrangler, Cat-caretaker and all-around aide de camp, has picked up a little habit. The first time I noticed it, it cracked me up. The second time, it made me laugh harder. By the third time – for some reason it took three times -- I realized this wasn’t a one-off. It was his new thing. And the amusing brilliance set in.

The gesture is simple enough.
Ben found a place on-line to order a stamp of his face. And now anytime he prints out a boarding pass for someone, he stamps it with his face and a message.
That’s it.

But just like that he has everyone at the agency looking forward to the simple act of getting their boarding pass. And seeing what McCool’s face will say today. He has TSA agents giving us second looks. And he has a bunch of us actually collecting and saving our boarding passes. Weird but true.

I doubt Ben was fully aware of what he was doing. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to turn boarding passes into unforgettable things. He was just being classic McCool, trying to make people smile and turn something routine into something special. But that’s kind of what “be unforgettable" is all about.

Thanks Ben.

This is the story of how we launched a Father’s Day effort for Dockers. But before we begin, we’d like to suggest that while you’re reading this, you should imagine the intro and outro sound design from the show 24 is playing in the background. If you don’t know what it sounds like, make a quick pit stop over at YouTube to find out. We’ll wait….

Got it? OK. Go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

So Dockers, who we’ve been working with for the last few months, calls us and says –Sarah Harbaugh, wife of San Franciso 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, has been on the radio talking about how her husband has a terrible sense of fashion. Anything we can do with that? And if so can we get it done for Father’s Day?

We say, sure. Father’s Day is in about three weeks. But sure. Let’s us think about it for a day or so.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

We forget the usual process of a formal briefing for creatives, etc. There’s no time. So we take a deep breath, check our gut and get right to work. In 48 hours we go back to the client with a big idea. A movement, aimed at Stopping Dad Pants. We had two ways to go. One direct. One indirect. The client loved it all. One was more perfect for the Harbaughs. But the other direction needed an additional personality in the same vein. A few days and phone calls later and John Gruden was at the table. He liked what we were doing. And wanted to join the party.

So now we had two videos to produce. With three key talent. In two different cities. Countless versions to edit. And a website and sweepstakes to build out. Everyone was stoked. We just had to figure out a way to get it done.

19 days to go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

Revisions. Director calls. Extra casting. Location scouting. Wardrobe styling (which we had a leg up on, because, you know, this was for Dockers). It all moved at lightening speed.

We flew to San Francisco to film the Harbaugh family. Who were a delight. And even though this was the first time Sarah Harbaugh had ever done anything like this she nailed it. We couldn’t have cast a better actress for the part. Score one for doing things on the fly.

A day later we flew to Tampa and filmed Gruden. Who also walked right into the role and performed like a pro (Well, he is a pro, but we were impressed none the less). Even revised scripts didn't throw him.

2 shoots in the can and we were into post-production. Having in-house editors was even more clutch than usual. Cue two editors cranking round the clock and round the weekend.

And other folks in the agency were jamming on making the Scourge of Dad Pants come to life too. Digital folks on digital things. Social peeps on social things. Account folks on keeping the whole train on the tracks. And the client was beyond excited. Gotta come through.

6 days to go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

We were in full-on-hunker-down-meals-brought-in-round-the-clock mode. We’re not positive, but there’s a chance one of our editor’s wives put out a missing person’s report and one of our digital designers may have started hallucinating.

1 day to go.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

The final 24 hours were swarming with details and refinements and approvals. And then suddenly…

Launch Day

And boom. Consumers loved it. Press loved it. YouTube views climbed through the sky (It actually became one of the months most watched ads on YouTube). Social hummed. And before you could say Stop Dad Pants, quite a lot of people were talking about Stopping Dad Pants.

So what’s next? How can we continue to fight the scourge? How can we #StopDadPants? No more time to write. There’s work to be done.

Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu… Kerchhuuu…

First Impressions

When you exchange business cards, present your card with 2 hands and bow.

A little tip someone offered before we left for Hong Kong and it was stuck in my head as we neared touch down.

We were on our way to help lead a brand summit with our partners at William Grant & Sons on behalf of Reyka Vodka. We’ve been working on the Reyka brand for about a year now but this was our first opportunity to rally markets in the east around the vodka from Iceland.

We’d heard “they’ll have a more rational view of marketing, less about the ‘emotional side’ of brands” and “it will be more formal.” I guess that was the reason the “business card custom” was dancing in my head. Don’t get us wrong, we’re as rational as they come when necessary and we’re told we look pretty good in a suit. But we’re really excited about Reyka and we were excited to make them excited. So we didn’t want anything to get “lost in translation.”

After stepping off the plane and into the city that looks like a mash-up of New York, San Francisco and the city in Total Recall, we kicked off 2 days of meetings. Yes, everyone handed off their business cards with two hands and a little bow (which we must say, adds a bit of lovely grace to that old business ritual) but probably the more relevant thing we quickly found was that on the rational to emotional scale, our new friends from Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and China were – how should we describe this – more amped than we were. We quickly became one big Reyka passion machine. And formality was kept to the business card thing.

And then they took us to dinner. But that’s for another post.

As we stepped outside, after spending two days of working in a dimly lit tunnel, we got a chance to stand back and look at what we had just created. Sure, it was for our client, but it told us something about ourselves as an agency too.

But before we get into all of that, let's go back to where it all began.

Last summer, Under Armour asked us to help them build some excitement around the reveal of the new kit they designed for English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur.

What we presented was a digital experience that called on Spurs fans everywhere to don their team apparel and upload photos of themselves proving that they are the most passionate fans on the planet. Their reward? The chosen photos would forever become a part of White Hart Lane. The home stadium and hallowed ground for Spurs fans everywhere.

But once we had the idea, the fun began - how the hell we were going to pull it off?

We constantly find ourselves trying to do things we've never done before. It's always a challenge. Because, basically If we've never done it, how do we know that we're doing it right?

For this project we fittingly had the help of two guiding principles: "I Will." The mantra of Under Armour. And, "To Dare is to Do." The motto of Tottenham Hotspur. And with those words to inspire us, we charged forward.

A project that at the onset seemed like it would be handled by a small team slowly built into something that brought together nearly every part of our agency. Strategy, account management, creative, digital, social, print production and everyone in between.

Over next few months, we saw the project come to life right in front of us as images of cheering fans flooded in from all over the world. And then it was in the hands of a small RTO+P team who sat on planes ready to cross the Atlantic and complete the final phase - literally building the new wall of fans inside The Lane. It was to become a monument to the most passionate Spurs fans in the world in the form of 2400 individual photos. 

Inside the player's tunnel we began, one by one, placing the photos on the wall in the exact spot digitally chosen by the fan in each photo. Seeing the pride in the team that each of these photos represented made the whole experience truly memorable. It was as if they were right there with us.

Two days later, the installation was complete. The photos of 2400 fans are now the first thing seen by Spurs players as they exit their locker room to take to the pitch before a match. A first of its kind monument to the passion that fans bring to the game and an enduring message to the Spurs, forever showing fan gratitude for their heroes.

But our work wasn't finished.

After a brief step back to admire what we'd pulled off, we headed back to our hotel which became an editing suite for the next few days. The final feather in the cap of this assignment was a video revealing the completed wall to the world prior to the Spurs match in just three days time. And it was watching that video on the Jumbotron sitting amongst tens of thousands of cheering Spurs fans before the match that we knew we had helped create something truly special.

And with the cheers ringing in our ears we flew back home. And on to the next thing.

P.S. Click here to watch the video

We were recently named Ad Age's Small Agency of the Year in the 11 to 75 employees category (which we squeaked into at the top end with 72 peeps).

It was really great.

But what made it even greater was being in Portland, OR, where the awards ceremony was held, which you might know is the home of an ad agency called Wieden + Kennedy. And before the awards show we heard Dan Wieden give a little talk and describe his once small agency.

And a lot of what he said reminded us of... us.

Now we're not writing this to compare ourselves to one of the greatest agencies of the last 30 years. No, what struck home was how he described the early days of Wieden and the freedom and exhilaration that comes from running full tilt and maybe just a little out of control. The courage that grows out of trusting your gut and flinging yourself forward. The giddy feeling you have when everyone in the building takes turns raising each other's game. That's the groove that you live for in this business.

It's not easy to get there and we've been around long enough to know that once you get there, you still have to fight like hell to stay. We like to say you have to bury your fear and commit to the wave.

But to have one of our heroes describe his agency's culture and have it feel even vaguely familiar made us feel pretty damn proud.

And that night we went up on stage and picked up a little carved glass statue with our name on it. And that was pretty sweet too.