I’ll admit it. Until a few weeks ago I had never heard of BooneOakley. Then I saw their company website. After I stopped laughing, I gave them a call.
BooneOakley was started in October 2000 by two former Martin guys–which probably made the people at The Martin Agency pretty mad, considering the great work these guys do.
BO’s sharp, strategic work has been put to the test by MTV, HBO, State Farm, Carmax, Visit Charlotte, the Charlotte Bobcats, Charlotte Hornets and Ruby Tuesday, to name a few.
If any part of David Oakley’s answers tick you off, I have his cell # and you can call him, after you stop laughing.
1. What was the aha moment when you realized “our company needs to be doing things differently than we have been?”
Why is the first question always the toughest? There have been many times in the last 9 years at BooneOakley that we have said to ourselves, “We are really screwing up. And we’ve got to change things.” Back in 2002, things were really slow at the agency and we were trying to cut costs, so we switched to that really thin scratchy toilet paper for the agency restrooms. It didn’t go over well so we switched back to the 2-ply Cottonelle pretty quickly. That was truly an “ah ha” moment. We learned that if you make a decision and it isn’t the right one, it’s ok to admit you’re wrong and try another solution. Being a relatively small company, 30 people, it’s easier for us to do that.
2. What books are on your nightstand or great blogs on your Google reader?
I have a really short attention span so I absolutely love Amy Flanagan’s blog, “the shortest blog in the world.” She describes it as “a blog in handy bite-sized pieces for people who want to follow a blog but don’t have hours and hours of time to spend reading.” I think she’s hilarious.
There are three books on my nightstand right now. “Me Talk Pretty One Day” and “Dress your Family in Corduroy and Denim” by David Sedaris. Both of these are a series of short, (I’m sensing a theme) laugh out loud essays. The only problem is that I usually laugh louder than I snore and that keeps my wife Claire awake.
I also just finished reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. It was on my kids’ 6th grade reading list and they both loved it. Trust me, you will too.
You’ll notice that there are no advertising or marketing or social media books on my nightstand. That’s the stuff that keeps me awake at night, so why would I read that right before I try to go to sleep?
3. Give me an example of marketing you think is brilliant and why.
I was blown away by the “There Can Only Be One” campaign that Goodby did for the NBA. It was so simple. It was deceptively simple, actually. The first time I saw the split images of Kobe and Shaq, it almost seemed to me to be a really easy, first concept or idea. But what it was, was an idea that got to the core about the NBA playoffs: that everyone wants the same thing. They want the championship and that’s all that matters to each and every player. Well OK, maybe money and prostitutes matter too, but any player can get those. There can only be one champion. Last summer, Time magazine featured a split image of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on the cover with the “There Can Only Be One” headline. That’s when the campaign truly became a part of culture. And history.
4. We’ve all read that the pitch / RFP process is broken. Many agencies aren’t even interested in competing in pitches. Do you see an alternative to this process?
We’re truly not interested in competing in pitches. We’d like for clients to instantly recognize how different we are from all the others and just hand us their business. Yeah. That’s it. That’s the way new business should be.
But the fact is, as cool and good and different as we think we are, we’re not any cooler, or better or really that different from 100 other shops.
That’s what makes the rfp courting process so difficult. For the agency. And especially for the client.
How do they cut the list from 20 to 10? Maybe they chop the list based on how many people the agency employs…
How do they cut it from 10 to 4? Maybe it’s based on who has the most creative packaging…
How do they cut it from 4 to 1? I’d venture to guess that mostly it’s on relationships. It comes down to who do the clients want to be spending a ton of time with. It comes down to who they like the most. Personally. It rarely has anything to do with the work.
At least that’s been our experience.
One question: When we make it to the finals of a pitch and don’t win, the consultants always tell us we came in a close second. Do you think they say that to everyone? Just wondering… [Editor's response: Umm, I'll get back to you on that.]
5. What does the agency of the future look like?
I’m not even sure what the agency of the present looks like. But as we move into the future, I’d venture to guess that some things are timeless. Like hot interns.
6. What do marketers need that agencies are not giving them?
A true partnership. Genuine collaboration. And a real chance for them to be on the same team with the agency.
The finger. Especially if they let 107 agencies pitch their business. OK, maybe I’m a little bitter that we did the zappos rfp. I guess that was really an “ah ha” moment for us. Like “ah ha”, we’ll never do that again.
7. Who do you admire and why?
I admire and love my wife Claire for putting up with me for almost 20 years. I’m sure it seems much longer to her.
I also admire my second wife John Boone for many of the same reasons.
Mentors are often overlooked. I have been lucky enough to have been blessed with several great ones. John Sweeney, professor at University of North Carolina. Peter Coughter, life coach, ad guy and professor at VCU Brand Center. And my parents, Sid and Pat.