Art & Comerce: A New Beginning

Bozell has always thrived on change, writes David Bell. It won’t disappoint now
Many years ago, as chairman of Bozell, I scribbled a speech on the back of an envelope on my way to a meeting in our Omaha office, trying to capture the agency’s spirit. Within Bozell, it has become known as “The Oh Yeah! Speech.” For those naysayers, most notably this publication, which last week questioned the future of domestic agencies and Bozell’s prospects, I’d like to share some of it:
“Oh Yeah! is at the core of the Bozell essence. Oh Yeah! is the kind of retort that’s always preceded by ‘You can’t do that!’ Oh Yeah! Says who?
“You can’t grow a national agency from Omaha. Oh Yeah!
“You can’t move your headquarters to New York. Oh Yeah!
“Oh Yeah! is an attitude that bucks the trends, beats the odds, challenges the establishment and defies conventional wisdom. It’s an in-your-face attitude that says, ‘Can do,’ when others say, ‘Can’t happen.’ Bozell may have grown into the big agency league, but Oh Yeah! is something we must never lose.”
True North’s recent announcement about the creation of a new FCB Worldwide and a new Bozell Group has some pundits speculating that FCB’s good news is bad news for Bozell. Furthermore, they claim the future of a domestic shop isn’t bright. Oh Yeah!
Last I heard, the U.S. is the world’s largest advertising market, with 40 percent of worldwide measured ad spending and continued growth predicted. As anyone in the industry knows, different clients have different needs. Some want advertising alone, and some demand a range of services. Some need a global agency, and others prefer a more intimate environment.
With $1.5 billion in U.S. billings, Bozell Group is already twice the size of other successful domestic agencies, such as Fallon and Goodby.
Scratch the surface and see what’s been going on lately at Bozell. The New York office, under Tom Bernardin, has racked up $220 million in new billings during the past seven months. It has attracted an outstanding creative leader in Brent Bouchez and recently partnered him with the respected strategic planner Megan Kent. In Minneapolis, Bozell Kamstra has grown from a small business-to-business shop to a $250 million operation.
Bozell clients know what Oh Yeah! is all about–and that’s why the agency has been successful. You can’t turn around the milk industry with a print campaign. Oh Yeah! You can’t produce a spot for a client like Datek Online in Internet time. Oh Yeah!
These successes come as no surprise to an agency that spun off Temerlin McClain and still came back from No. 14 to No. 8 in the U.S. within five years. They are certainly no surprise to Gene Bartley, who has helped build Bozell and its culture for 13 years. Now, as chairman of Bozell Group, he has the vision to move the agency forward.
Bozell is an ailing brand? Oh Yeah! For Bozell, it’s just the beginning.
For those who may not remember, Chrysler was an underdog once. The agency risked it all to help save it from bankruptcy, even resigning the Ford business. They said the agency couldn’t do that. Oh Yeah!
We had no regrets then, and none now. Bozell has always thrived on change, overcome great odds and risen to the occasion. I assure you, it won’t disappoint us now.