From Ads to ‘Persuasive Arts’




Atkins Agency Changes Its Identity in Emotional Makeover
DALLAS–Aromatherapy ma-chines whirred, music played and a set designed to look like a window onto a flowery field opened before an audience at the San Antonio Museum of Art as The Atkins Agency revealed its transformation into the Center For The Persuasive Arts last week.
“This is a paradigm shift for us,” said Steve Atkins, president and chief executive. “In the past, we had tried to represent ourselves an an integrated marketing firm and said that the value came from that seamless relationship.”
A significant amount of the former advertising agency’s work will be research-oriented projects focusing on the precognitive decision-making process, i.e., how to move consumers emotionally and even unconsciously, he said.
“We will avail ourselves to clients who want us to use The Sixth Sense [the agency’s new research format], and that may be the only relationship with them,” Atkins said.
“We will [also] continue to enhance our ability to deliver on broader media and production.”
Atkins has formed an advisory board for the Center. The group includes David Martin, founder of The Martin Agency; Ann McClenahan, a Harvard University theologian; John Cimino, musician and president of Creative Leaps International; Tom Ward, a professor of cognitive psychology at Texas A&M University; and Sheila Campbell, a consultant in organizational behavior and culture.
The $35 million San Antonio-based company will “shift from studying how to affect people with advertising and communication into a culture of anthropology and science to develop a deeper understanding of people and how to assess their emotional intelligence,” Atkins said.
So far, that strategy has encompassed a variety of activities, ranging from in-home focus groups to an experiment that involved impregnating newspapers with coffee aromas to make them more appealing.
Atkins, the son of the agency’s founder, said he was moved by the birth of his first child to re-envision “what the future is, what legacy have I provided.”