The Martin Agency is best known for its iconic creative ideas. Who hasn’t seen the Geico Gecko?
But in addition to doing creative work for blue chip clients such as Geico, Oreo and Buffalo Wild Wings, The Martin Agency is transforming into a sophisticated media organization.
The creative agency has had media as part of its offering since it was founded in 1965. But it’s becoming a bigger deal this year as Martin grows its Cultural Impact Lab, a group that services clients across communications planning, media and public relations.
Clients are increasingly asking for more integrated services to close the gap between what they say and where they say it. Fostering a media team in house keeps The Martin Agency’s work relevant, said Greg Fischer, who co-leads the Cultural Impact Lab.
“There’s so many places consumers are going for information,” he said. “Being able to both produce and extend our message in a tone that’s consistent with our creative campaign makes every dollar work a lot harder.”
The Martin Agency generally wins media assignments as part of full-service pitches, and many of its clients also work with the agency on PR and comms strategy. Martin’s media team is about 40 people strong and buys digital and programmatic media in house, as well as local TV and radio.
The group partners on national TV buying with IPG sister agency MediaHub or the client’s preferred media buying agency. Martin is careful not to step on the toes of other agencies by setting expectations early on, Fischer said.
“They see we’re helping make the most out of their media plan,” he said.
Two years ago, Martin launched its own trading desk. The agency buys performance advertising for a handful of clients, but mostly leverages programmatic data and insights to optimize creative strategy more nimbly.
“We can be much more effective because we can use a lower cost medium and turn it on its head with creativity,” Fischer said.
One recent example is a campaign the agency created for the ACLU and nonprofit Tie The Knot called “Give A Shit For Good.” Martin targeted members of the far right and far left with programmatic ads to bring visibility to the Trump administration’s attacks on the LGBTQ community and to encourage people to donate using the poop emoji.
The Martin Agency solidified its media team in January when it hired Becca Grimes, who hails from Hayworth and Horizon Media, as group media director. She joined because of the opportunity to get closer to the creative process – exposure that The Martin Agency thinks a lot of media buyers want.
“In a media role, you’re limited by very rigid KPIs you have to hit from an efficiency perspective,” Grimes said. “We need to be good stewards of our clients’ media dollars, but we also have to be creative.”
The group is continuing to hire more like-minded media experts who “are tired of being cut out of the creative process,” Fischer said.
“A lot of us in media got into this business to impact creativity,” he said. “We’re hunting for those people who see the power of combining creative and media.”
As Martin grows its media department, it will work with the agency’s new business team to create client demand by showcasing integrated work. Bringing media and comms planning together not only keeps the “big idea” alive throughout the campaign, but helps brands find efficiencies along the way, Fischer said.
“If media clients are separate from brand clients, we’re often serving two masters,” he said. “Sometimes a segregated process really creates a lot of wasted opportunity.”