Harley Davidson And Ad Agencies

Let’s Start With Ad Agencies

It is nice to see that ad agencies are willing to pivot.

I read today that Cal McAllister of Seatle’s now closed Wexley School For Girls is starting a new agency. Having visited Wexley in the now distant goodish old days, I am not surprised that Cal has shifted from running a super creative ad agency to a specialized ‘new and improved’ version. The new Paper Crane Factory is dedicated to growing early stage business and is teaming up with VC’s in Seattle and Silicon Valley. As Cal says in ADWEEK (strangely at Cannes — well, I guess it’s a good old-fashioned place to launch a new age agency)…

“The opportunity to do game-changing work with brands is happening at a much earlier stage,” said McAllister during last week’s Cannes Lions.

McAllister is initially opening offices in Seattle and Silicon Valley, taking a leaner and digitally focused approach with his client base and building more around equity with partners, as opposed to the traditional agency model.

“The billable hour—I think is broken,” noted McAllister. “The fact is, the way agencies make the most money is by putting more people on jobs and having it take longer. This is precisely what clients don’t want now. We are focused on taking clients who are willing to pay part of the fee in equity, so our wins are their wins, and their wins are our wins.”

A New Model Ad Agency

Let me start by saying this type of agency isn’t a brand new idea. However, aiming to work with start-ups for equity plus fees is a decent 2018 idea for a new agency.

A key point for my readers is that the agency is highly specialized. Wexley worked with a range of clients. Paper Crane Factory is dedicated to a much narrower category. It is a hell of a lot easier to be distinctive when you are specialized that a generalist.

Harley Davidson And President Trump And Advertising $

I never get into politics here. However, it is becoming clear to me (and, I hope you) that Donald Trump does not actually understand big business.

The news that America’s great brand Harley Davidson is moving manufacturing and jobs to Europe and, a few months ago Thailand, is a direct result of two #MAGA policies that clearly do not get how large-scale manufacturing works. Or, how a public company should work for its shareholders. As in, grow sales and profitability. (See below.)

Europe’s tit-for-tat motorcycle tariffs are obviously a result of the #MAGA trade tariffs (and an interesting aim at Wisconsin) and the move to Thailand is a direct result of America’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP.)

Why does this matter? More of this type of movement of USA dollars to foreign countries is, I think going to accelerate. This move will result negatively on large brand USA advertising.

According to S&P, 43% of Fortune 500 sales happen overseas. If, as in Harley Davidson, your USA sales were in decline while sales in Europe and Asia were growing, where would you put your ad dollars?


Harley Davidson would have to raise the price of each motorcycle it ships to the EU by $2,200 if production doesn’t leave the U.S.

That’s a dealbreaker, considering Europe is Harley’s second-biggest market (driving 15% of its revenue).

My Advertising Agency Blog Post Archive

600+ Advertising Agency Blog Posts…

I’ve been thinking about publishing my ‘best’, most ‘informative’ advertising agency new business blog posts in a book. Frankly, the task seems daunting as I have been writing since 2012. I’m working through this opportunity/issue. In the meantime, I’ve found Simple Yearly Archive, a great WP plugin that lists all of my posts on one page. So, here you go. I hope that this admittedly kinda cumbersome list will help you find what you are looking for. Or, even better, you might find that pearl by accident.

Just for the hell of it, here are some bulk numbers:

Total number of blog post views (as of 20/6/2018): 347,576

Best day: 2,158 (it was the day that I published “The Worst Advertising Agency Pitch – Ever”

Average per day: 200

OK, here you go – 600+ advertising agency blog posts (I think that many of these will actually help you grow your agency and make more money and will help you sell the company someday). FYI: you will notice that many of the earliest posts relate to a very early book… Boomercide: From Woodstock To Suicide. This was my first book, my training wheels book.


What’s After Advertising?

After Advertising

I am often asked by advertising agency people… what do people do after they leave advertising (or at least, a stay-put advertising job)? Well, to be more specific, what have I done after advertising as in, since I sold my Portland agency six years ago?

I live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (built a house/60% cost of living/travel all over/work from anywhere)

I work with advertising agencies around the world on helping them build lead generating business development programs

I am on a global quest to photograph the world’s people (starting here with this 210 portrait series)

Some days I just hang out and I constantly try to satisfy my curious mind.

One way I satisfy my curiosity is to stay in long-distance touch (usually by newsletter) with Faris Yakob…. brand strategist (I guess that is one description) who I interviewed for my book on pitching. Here is the interview. By the way, buy the book and win more business so you can get out of your office.

Genius Steals

Faris can show you a way out of the cube, open office or if you’ve been lucky, an office with a couch.

To get going, I suggest that you sign up for Faris and his wife Rosie’s newsletter and visit their website. Why?

They are very smart and you will learn stuff that should make you a better marketer. From the sign-up page“Put together by husband and wife creative duo Faris and Rosie Yakob, this weekly email is a source of interesting and fun links from around the web on a variety of topics. The content is expertly curated, and if you can’t find something inspiring in each edition, it will at least make you a more interesting dinner date.”  

But, but, there’s more. Faris and Rosie live a nomadic lifestyle. As they say…

“We used to live and work in NYC where we had fancy titles and bars in our offices. It was rad. Mostly. Except there were so. many. meetings.  When Faris sold his share in a digital agency he started, he proposed that we quit our jobs and travel the world for 6 months, to take a break, to explore. We both really loved traveling, and the stars aligned, and so we’ve been traveling ever since.”

Read more about them here at Technomadix. Start to plan on how to… get out of advertising. The time will come.


My Best Business Travel Resources

Must Have Business Travel Resources

Traveling for ad agency business can suck these days (um, duh). Beyond the obvious: getting to the airport at rush hour; waiting in the TSA line; getting through TSA; gate hassling (“boarding group 9”); carry on stuffing and anxiety; being scrunched in a no-legroom seat; your late booked middle seat; slow exiting… Then there is the cost. Especially if your client tells you they won’t pay for $6,500 for 13 hours of business class to Tokyo. All of this calls for personal resourcefulness. Or, having a bunch of business travel resources at your disposal.

Here’s a list of some great travel resources that can make your business trip (and personal trips) easier and more efficient. I bet that many of you know about some of these. But, I recently mentioned SeatGuru to a couple of friends and they just blankly stared back. So, here is a short list of direct links to a bunch of business travel resources. (LOL, Google kinda still likes it if I keep repeating the keywords.)

Note, I’ll be adding these to my Big Advertising Agency Resource List. Have you seen this?

OK, go.

I am going to start with Plane Finder just because it is insane…

Plane Finder. Plane Finder is a geeky web-based and mobile app that lets you watch live air traffic from anywhere in the world. Did I say geeky? Try this one out. It’s kinda crazy.

Business Traveller. 12 regional editions to keep you up on the latest business travel news.

Momondo. These days I dig the travel metasearch engine Momondo. I simply like the interface and the information provided. Also the way they divide the flights into cheapest, shortest and best. Check out their travel information blog.

Southwest. Southwest does not provide data to flight aggregators. You need to go directly to their website.

Skyscanner. My second favorite flight, hotel, and car finder.

SeatGuru. This is simply the best website to figure out airplane configurations. You do want to know what is the best seat on that 777 to Tokyo, right?

Hotel Tonight. I use Hotel Tonight to find last minute deals. Often in the coolest hotels.

Trivago.  A sweet way to compare the best hotel options. Plus, they do advertising…. So support them.

Airbnb. I use Airbnb when I have to book multiple bedrooms for the family or if I am going to have to hang in a city for 7+ nights. They are also gearing up their experiential listings for local advisors to help you do things like a mezcal tasting romp in Mexico City. Here is an interesting interview with … the CEO of Airbnb. Just a good watch from Recode.

Eater. Have your client take you out for dinner. LOL. Eater delivers fresh food news and dining guides from across the country.

Travel + Leisure. Need more stuff? Here is a list from T+L on the 50 best travel apps.

Google Maps and Translation. Do I have to say more?



Ted Leonsis, The Capitals and My Advertising Career

Ted’s Digital Advertising Advice

I don’t usually talk about career development on this website. But, last night’s Washington Capital’s hockey game and their owner Ted Leonsis made me think of my own advertising career. More on this later.

Watching Ted Leonsis’s Washington Capitals win the Stanly Cup was exhilarating for two reasons (for my international audience, the Stanley Cup is the National Hockey League’s 60-year-old champions cup).

First, hockey is the only sport that equals the second by second excitement of football (for my USA audience, football means soccer).

Second, Ted had a great impact on my career because he helped give it/me purpose.

Ted And My Purpose

In 1994 I returned from working at Saatchi & Saatchi London to our New York office to run business development with my buddy Beau Fraser. Unfortunately, 1994 was the worst year in the history of the agency with poor management, very bad USA press, loss of any new client interest and the ultimate departure of Maurice and Charles, the founding brothers. We couldn’t sell a damn thing. I even got laughs from Goodby and Silverstein in a shared NYC cab when they heard that my job was selling Saatchi’s services.

BUT… another thing that happened in 1994 was that I “discovered” digital marketing and the Internet. Coming from Luddite-rich Great Britain and seeing what was going on in the states with CD-Roms (LOL) and the graphical web, delivered a HUGE WOW. I sensed that digital was the future (duh!).

I used my Saatchi credential to go down to Florida to meet with Ted Leonsis and his Redgate Communications – as far as I knew, Redgate was the first digital agency. Ted explained what a digital agency did and informed me that AOL had just bought Redgate and that he was going to be AOL’s president. How did Ted do at AOL? Well, he now owns Washington’s hockey and basketball teams. Here’s the AdAge annountment.

Most importantly, he gave me this advice:

“Get the fuck out of traditional advertising and get into digital.”

I did. Ted’s advice was instrumental in helping me find my purpose – and at that time, it was not working at a failing full-service advertising agency. My true purpose was becoming a brilliant marketer. I think I did grow into that. I won’t bore you with the bio details. You can see the post-Saatchi digital bio here.

Peter, What’s The Point?

The point is that you need to locate the one or two people that can help you find your purpose and light the light. It wasn’t an accident that I flew down to Florida on Saatchi’s dime to meet Ted. I went to learn about digital marketing for the agency. But, I knew quite well that I needed to hear what a digital agency was, what digital marketing was going to be (the promise) to help me get to my next stage. FYI, Saatchi management did not agree with me about digital marketing at that time.

Last night… So, when I saw Ted’s team win, there was a bit of extra personal satisfaction and “hey, that’s some cool shit.”

I listened to the right guy in 1994. He is a winner.

By the way, a few years later Ted, as president of AOL, called me up to tell me that AOL was not going to buy my early-stage bot companyActiveBuddy. But, that’s another story.