The year is 2002. Christmas is just around the corner but it’s hard to focus. After months of hard graft, strategy and planning we – me and my brilliant Creative Director and co-founder, Peter Allen – are finally ready to launch our agency to the world.
There’s just one problem: we have no idea what it’s called.
With a launch date fast approaching, Peter and I were stumped. We weren’t lacking confidence in our abilities, but the idea of proudly launching to the world as ‘Morgan Allen’ felt too close to the truth. After all, we were only two people, just a Morgan and an Allen, huddled together in a cramped office in Kingston.
We wanted to define ourselves as one of the first integrated marketing agencies in the country. This was an important differentiator in an industry where most agencies saw themselves as either ‘above’ or ‘below’ the line.
There was a huge amount of snobbishness around below the line agencies, who were seen as the grunts who implement the strategic/creative work that happened above the line. Advertising agencies simply didn’t want to get involved in the nitty gritty of trying to integrate customer channels and touchpoints.
All this meant that B2B clients who couldn’t afford to engage Ogilvy & Mather’s planning team used agencies that ‘designed’ ads for them with very little research basis. Sophisticated targeting wasn’t really a thing back then –– I remember when our credentials proudly showed off an ‘integrated campaign’ which used consistent visuals, headlines and colours, clients reacted as though it was a thing of wonder.
So, we knew B2B clients, working with limited budgets and ambitious sales targets, needed an agency that could offer it all. Our agency would build a campaign around customer insight and a strong strategic thread. A one-stop shop.
However, in the early noughties, when the concept of using a single agency to manage all the channels was revolutionary, how could we announce ourselves as something different? What name would position us as ‘The Agency’ for our clients?
How could we do all this and keep it simple?
We were no closer to a solution when the Christmas break arrived. I went home and settled down with my two-year old daughter, Molly, to watch her new DVD. It was a story of two monsters, employed at a factory where their job was to, well, be monstrous. The name of the movie? Monsters. Inc. That’s what they offered, and that’s what you got. Simple. Perfect.
And so, Agency Inc was born.
We launched in February 2003 with the promise of doing, planning, and implementing things properly –– making our client’s lives as easy as possible. It worked.
In the first year alone, we somehow won 15 new clients including Konica Minolta and The Rugby Football Union, followed by Companies House and Generali Insurance the following year.
And since those early days, we’ve never stopped evolving. Just like Monsters Inc, where the monsters eventually pivot from making children scream to make them laugh, as B2B’s format and mix of channels and assets has changed, we’ve evolved alongside customers’ new preferences. And we’ve never lost that full-service one agency mentality. What you see is still what you get.
And that’s our story. Agency Inc: keeping it simple since 2003.