State of Your State: Minnesota’s Ad Scene

By Matt Van Hoven Comment


We asked a few regional ad-bloggers to give us a run-down of how their state’s agencies are fairing these days. For Minnesota, we hit up Yaybia! bloggers Erin Lamberty and Libby Issendorf, whose analysis you can read below. Ready, go.

In the Land of the Loon, 2008 was a year of holding steady. Smaller than average awards counts and more competitive new business leads weren’t enough to avoid layoffs. Campbell Mithun and Olson had hiring surges early in the year, but this fall the prospects were pretty grim for new talent hoping to enter the market. Here’s a quick rundown of our 2008 hits & misses in the City of Lakes:

Biggest, “Oh, Shit” Moment: Microsoft Skips Fallon

It seemed like everyone, even typically harsh critics, was rooting for Fallon to win the Microsoft account. When CP+B was awarded the account, you could hear Fallon, and the Minneapolis ad community let out a collective, “Oh, shit.” The phrase seemed to echo through downtown every time Jerry and Bill were on TV.

Even after all of their past missteps, Fallon seems to be playing off their May move back to smaller offices as getting back to their boutique roots. They’re taking risks again with questionable (albeit conversation-starting) work for Equinox and The Ladders. And maybe now they can get discounted lunch at Boston Market to enjoy with new CEO Chris Foster?

The Father of All Mpls Agencies: Campbell Mithun

For this shop, 75th Anniversary gifts included new business from Supervalu and Famous Footwear (presumably for some orthotics). Plenty of digital work is handed up a few floors to MRM, so the agency’s strength is more traditional media. Their witty, Twin Cities-centric RNC campaign was distributed online, although it took the form of page ads and 30-second spots. But the biggest agency in Minneapolis is still a media powerhouse, chock full of new talent from new hires in ’08, and in 2009 they’ll stay that way with print, radio, and TV from longtime clients like General Mills. For more on CM’s new biz wins and strategy for continued success, check out this interview (
Cloak of Invisibility: Martin Williams

Wait, what? It’s been pretty quiet around this Nicollet Mall shop, and in this case, no news is probably not good news. Their work for the Timberwolves was pulled before the team could even get their second win. Let’s hope that Dodo bird on their splash page isn’t an omen!

Most Success with the Most-Reduced Staff: Carmichael Lynch

Despite cutting 5% of their workforce and battling Harley-Davidson review rumors, the agency produced nom-worthy Jack Links work and helped Subaru get named auto marketer of the year. If they can keep cranking out great H-D work like the $/lb. spots, they may be able to lay off the layoffs in ’09 and put those H-D rumors to rest. Keep your eyes peeled to see if the string of new biz (Noodles & Co, Sierra Nevada) will continue when CEO John Colasanti departs in 2009.

Idea Leader: space150

Through their Deepspace forums on new media, space150 has established themselves as the all-knowing interweb agency in Minneapolis. Their thought leadership continues through their in-house mobile department. This year, the Deeqs campaign was up for an OMMA award and American Express and Starz signed on as clients. By rebranding themselves every 150 days (they’re on version 22!), space150 seems poised to continue their position of new media leadership.

In Other News
Colle + McVoy Painted Shit Gold, mono took a bite out of Apple, and Preston Kelly got new digs in NE Minneapolis to go with their new name (formerly Kerker).

Olson and Periscope aren’t making the headlines for huge new biz or huge layoffs, but business seems strong with prominent local clients (University of Minnesota, MN Twins) and some smaller new additions (parts of Red Wing Shoes, Famous Dave’s).

Minneapolis welcomed GdB to their downtown space this summer. We hope that as Summit Brewing’s new AOR, they’ll be providing beer for everyone who got laid off this year. And we can’t wrap up the Minneapolis scene without mentioning Mike Fetrow (Hi Mike!), one of the hottest ad men in the industry.

Thoughts on 2009

Marketing budgets will continue to be cut which not only effects the entire industry, but will cause Minneapolis shops to rethink their own unique strengths and recession battling tactics. We’re definitely hopeful, but should the layoffs continue well into 2009, Minneapolis risks losing its top talent to other cities and even different industries.

The End.

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