Next to J. Walter Thompson (now Wunderman Thompson), The Gate bills itself as the second oldest agency in the United States. The agency is marking 150 years of business with an apology tour, trying to win back old clients that fired them by highlighting faux retro campaigns and making amends.
“The Gate Apology Tour” features a handful of the clients the agency worked with over its long history, with a spokesperson recalling the campaigns that made the brands shine—and the ones that got them fired.
One for Scott Paper reminisces about The Gate working with the toilet tissue brand in the 1940s and 1950s, with successful campaigns like “War is Rough, Toilet Paper Shouldn’t Be” until the agency errantly made a billboard stating “The Number 1 Brand for Your Number 2s.” The spokesperson states that the brand had to fire them after that. The spot ends with text that says that the part about working with Scott during that period is true, but the rest is made up.
Similar treatments are given to dairy brand Borden, which The Gate made a blunder with “Lucy, the lactose intolerant cow,” and Inglenook Wines, where the agency made a terrible typo on a coupon that heavily discounted the wine and became a PR disaster.
The humorous apologies also invite the brands to come back to The Gate and start with a clean slate.
The Gate was actually founded in 1872 by Albert Frank and was initially named Mandel and Frank and based on 152 Broadway, going through a series of name and location changes before being rebranded as The Gate Worldwide in 2005.
The existing New York agency, which is now part of the global creative and tech group MSQ, is based at 71 Fifth Avenue, with sister offices in San Francisco, London and Edinburgh. Current clients include State Street Global Advisors, Nasdaq, BHP, Crowdstreet and National Grid.
The apologies, which also include spots for Cartier, Cunard Luxury Cruise Lines and McCormick Spices, will be hosted on The Gate’s website and social channels. Each film assures the brands’ current marketing teams that lessons have been learned—and The Gate welcomes their business back.
In a message to Buitoni Pasta, The Gate apologizes for their work on the brand in the 1960s, which accidentally made Americans believe that the business had ties to the Mafia. And in a message to Cunard, The Gate apologizes for the scandal that the agency president caused on a Cunard ship 100 years ago, with a Hollywood starlet and a strip shuffleboard campaign.
The farfetched stories highlight The Gate’s former clients, while looking forward to 150 more years.