The Green Bay Packers weren’t the only winners at the Super Bowl this year. Deutsch, Inc.’s Los Angeles office also scored a huge victory with the debut of a Volkswagen ad that became an instant classic, since drawing more than 40 million views on YouTube. The ad features a boy in Darth Vader garb who tries
using “the Force” on things around the house—without luck until he gets to the 2012 Passat in the driveway (which Dad covertly starts from the kitchen with a key remote).
That kind of edgy, unique approach—along with Deutsch’s continuing hands-on support of the AEF and its mission—is why the company is being honored with the Agency Award at this year’s Honors Night.
Accepting the award will be Deutsch North America’s CEO, Linda Sawyer. A former chairman of the foundation, Sawyer has led her company’s efforts in working with AEF in recent years to educate talented young students on the dynamic role of advertising in culture and society. “Linda and her staff at Deutsch have canvassed a bunch of colleges and universities to come up with some really bright ideas to bring AEF more up-front in students’ minds, in terms of what we do, and what we offer,” says Paula Alex, the CEO of AEF.
Explaining her efforts, Sawyer says, “The future pipeline of talent is key to ensuring the success and ongoing evolution of the industry. So attracting the best and the brightest is an imperative that should be everyone’s responsibility.”
Appealing to youth has been the company’s trademark since 1990, when Donny Deutsch, who now serves as chairman, bought a majority stake from his father David. During the first decade under Donny Deutsch, the firm lured clients like Bank of America, Old Navy, and Domino’s Pizza--and grew its sales exponentially. The agency made a particularly big splash when it helped transform the concept of furniture advertising with Ikea. One of its groundbreaking commercials for the Swedish retail giant showed two men shopping for a dining room table—the first time a gay couple had been depicted on an American TV spot.
Given the caliber of employees the company attracts, it’s no surprise that the agency continues to break new ground. “Deutsch has always had a strong and vibrant culture,” says Sawyer. “Our people are a distinct reflection of our values and POV. ‘Deutschers’ are smart, tenacious, business minded, and passionate.”
Interpublic bought Deutsch in 2000 and has continued to cultivate its growth. Now the company, under Sawyer’s direction since 2009, boasts Microsoft, Volkswagen, Johnson & Johnson, Zipcar, Snapple, Unilever, and Sony PlayStation among its clients.
Joining forces with the AEF has been a natural fit for Deutsch. The foundation’s efforts to broaden the appeal of the advertising business among students and generate discourse about the industry at the country’s top academic institutions only serves to broaden the talent pool the company draws from. Twentysomethings, after all, are the people who know what motivates consumers to buy PlayStations, use Zipcars, drink Snapple, or laugh at little boys playing Darth Vader.