How One Small Agency Changed Advertising

” The concept behind Snapple was that trust is more essential than being best,” says Jon Bond. He got a head start as Partner and head of the Design group at Kirshenbaum + Bond. Shortly after James Patterson flashed the Kenneth Cole Imelda Marcos advertisement in front of Richard Kirshenbaum, Jon Bond fulfilled Bill Tragos, one of the creators of advertising firm TBWA, at a party in Greenwich, Connecticut. Jon Bond asked Bill Tragos if he should start a marketing agency.” Jon Bond is basically the guerilla marketing leader,” states Geoff Colon, head of Microsoft Advertisings Brand Studio.

Jon Bond and Richard Kirshenbaum are trying hard not to be seen, concealing in plain sight at the Pen & & Pencil dining establishment, a high end eatery in Midtown Manhattan.
Its the lunch break rush and the waiter, worn a crisp white shirt and black pants has come by once, twice, to take their order but again they press him away. The two advertisement hustlers work at various marketing companies but have a side gig that lets them meet throughout lunch hour to collaborate on independent tasks.
The projects pay just enough to buy the duo lunch at the most pricey restaurants in the area.
They only have the lunch hour to come up a concept for a full-page print ad for Kenneth Cole footwear. Theres no agreement to run an advertisement– this suggests that Kenneth Cole himself needs to seem like the ad suffices to invest the cash.
The year is 1986. Ronald Reagan is President of the United States. Madonna is singing “Papa Dont Preach,” Cyndi Lauder has her hit “True Colors.” The movie “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise has not come out yet, however the off-kilter Australian rom-com “Crocodile Dundee” is playing on motion picture screens.
In the Philippines, totalitarian Ferdinand Marcos and his better half Imelda are getting headings as jet-setting bootstrappers. Their nation is besieged by enormous poverty, yet the couple uses the international party circuit. News flash: A newspaper short article reveals that consumer Imelda Marcos owns countless sets of shoes.
A couple days later on marketing innovative director James Patterson walks through the unfortunate corridors of the famous J. Walter Advertising firm (this exact same James Patterson will later end up being popular author James Patterson). In the 21st century JWT will turn into one of the design templates for the T.V. show “Madmen”, but in 1986 the firm reeks of mold.
Patterson actions inside every workplace of the JWT innovative department and holds up a page in The New York Times, before startled art directors and copywriters.
It is a full-page ad for Kenneth Cole shoes. The advertisement is 2 basic sentences in black and white type. No photo. No photo of shoes. Executionally, its the least costly ad you might produce in The New York Times. In fact, the only thing less costly than this ad would be to run a blank page. And the advertisement is a basic one-liner.
” Imelda Marcos purchased 2,700 sets of shoes. She mightve at least had the courtesy to purchase a pair of ours.– Kenneth Cole.”
” This is the kind of work we ought to be doing here!” Patterson declares, then stomps down the corridor to the next workplace and after that the next. Its a long corridor. “Why cant we do this kind of work here?” “Why arent you doing advertisements like this?”
Patterson reaches copywriter Richard Kirshenbaums workplace and leans in. “Why cant you do this type of work?” he roars.
Kirshenbaum looks at the ad, then at Patterson and laughs. Kenneth Cole is my freelance client!”
This sparks the beginning of legendary ad agency Kirshenbaum + Bond. Gone now, almost forgotten, K+B (which later on became KBS) fired up much of the styles, executions and thinking that still run through social, digital and traditional marketing and advertising today.
The first pop-up store.
Using genuine individuals instead of actors in tv commercials.
The real-life video appearance of “Reality TV”.
Fantastic ideas that have so much fun, sense, and inexpensive baked into them that customers can not withstand buying them. And individuals might not talk but help about them.
Kirshenbaum + Bond promoted Word Of Mouth (WOM) not as a spin-off, but as a deliberate outcome. Twenty years before the twitterstream.
Kirshenbaum + Bonds Kenneth Cole print campaign became a New York thing. In the 1990s, everyone in Manhattan– consumers and market folks alike– watched and awaited the next ad to appear.
” There was no media strategy,” recalls Jon Bond. “We waited on occasions to happen and got Kenneths opinion.”
Loaded with puns, double entendres and winks to the Manhattan people, Kenneth Cole advertisements were culturally relevant, deliberately cause-ridden, outrageously not as much about the shoes as they were about the values of individuals who wanted to wear Kenneth Cole shoes.
Notably, Kenneth Cole marketing provided modern-day problems their voice: AIDS, homelessness, political frictions. When Lorena Bobbit cut off her hubbys penis, there was an advertisement for that. When Vice President Dan Quayle publicly ashamed himself by misspelling a word, there was an advertisement for that. When conservatives ignored the AIDS epidemic, Kenneth Cole ads boldly supported research and funding.
In a time before “purpose-driven” K+Bs Kenneth Cole ads specifically proclaimed take note, this matters. The ads were amusing, adorable, ballsy, tone wise and full-page news in the most actionable and culturally diverse city in America. Kenneth Cole ads served as activist prompts to help push societal issues forward.
The DNA for Nikes Kaepernick advertising lies in Kenneth Cole. “Kenneth Cole was absolutely at the forefront of purpose-driven marketing,” nods Bill Oberlander who was art director on the Kenneth Cole account.
Business big and little started indicating Kenneth Cole advertisements as the important things. “We began the agency with that one customer,” says Jon Bond.
Fast Forward
When her mom told her that she didnt want to take her to Take Your Daughter To Work Day, Colleen Broomall was in 6th grade. Mrs. Barbara Broomall was at an alternative high school teacher in New Jersey where she taught mentally disturbed students. She didnt desire child Colleen to get caught up in the intricacies of her trainees.
” I was 12 years old,” recalls Colleen. “Im a feminist and so when my mommy said No, I asked the Snapple lady if I could go to deal with her.”
The “Snapple Lady” was Wendy Kaufman, a Snapple employee that Kirshenbaum + Bond had written into tv commercials.
Snapple management had actually seen the Kenneth Cole campaign and wanted Kirshenbaum + Bond to do something just as wise, amusing, advancement for them. At the time, the brewed tea business Snapple was a local, family-owned service– an outlier in a beverage market controlled by Coke and Pepsi.
The business advertised Snapple on regional NBC radio reveals starring Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh (fledgling brand names themselves). When those celebs made on-air mentions of Snapple, lots of in their audience didnt understand who or what “Snapple” was.
” Before those commercials began airing it was just a spunky little drink business,” says Broomall. “People would write to Snapple, but nobody would answer the letters. Wendy appointed herself the PR girl and began answering letters.”
” I was dealing with the truck chauffeurs dealing with orders,” explains Wendy Kaufman, arguably the first “real” individual to star on television screens (so-called “Reality T.V.” did not appear for another decade). “I assigned myself to public relations, since I could relate openly.”
On the early morning of Take Your Daughter To Work Day, a black limousine brought up outside Colleen Broomalls home in New Jersey with six cases of Snapple. Colleen spent her day helping Wendy check out peoples houses and brighten their days with complimentary Snapple.
” People related to me because I was 100-percent natural advertising,” remembers Wendy. This remained in the middle of the Cola Wars, when competitors Coke and Pepsi were flaunting supermodels like Cindy Crawford and Christy Brinkley.
” I was obese, I had characteristics. I wasnt stunning,” says Kaufman. “I was not best and not listened to. It was an extreme relocation for them to employ me. And it settled– the fans loved me.
” K+B had this wonderful chance to grow their brand while we were constructing our brand name,” continues Wendy, who presently is quarantining in Western Massachusetts. “We were these insane people ending up in the mainstream. We were making individuals happy.
” Wendy brought a lot generosity and happiness since of her spirit,” states Colleen Broomall. “And I wished to resemble her.”
” The goodness that we provided for other individuals,” remembers Kaufman. “If individuals didnt have money, we gave them Snapple. It was a life changer for people.”
” The idea behind Snapple was that trust is more important than being best,” states Jon Bond. Everything was genuine.
( Snapple is among the excellent success stories in advertising. It is likewise the saddest. Snapple was a $23 million service when they employed K+B and a $750 million company 3 years later on. They immediately disposed the Wendy campaign.) when Snapple sold to Quaker Oats.
There Are Other Stories.
Hennessy cognac sales were declining because people were offering up after-dinner beverages. K+B visited their local bar throughout the street to experiment.
” We worked with dozens of actors in crucial cities to invade bars that didnt serve Hennessy,” recalls Jon Bond. “We staged mini dramas inside the bar– usually where the appealing couple gets into an argument and then makes up and orders Hennessy for everyone. No one understood it was staged until years later when an Esquire short article outed us.”.
On the other hand, Hennessy sales grew from 400,000 to 2.5 MM cases. Hennessy won Spirits Marketer of The Year twice.
Today, Pop-Up shops are a common part of retail, but till K+B christened them by producing snap retail spaces for Delta, “The Apprentice” and short-term retail area for Target on the barges of the Hudson River, the pop-up idea was an outlier idea that did not really exist. (K+B likewise helped upgrade Target from cost buyer to designy stylish.).
In 1992, legendary rock music group The Rolling Stones wished to introduce a clothes brand called Rockwear. (Polo shirts that looked a lot like Ralph Lauren– other than The Stoness iconic tongue logo would replace the Polo Pony.) The perfect middle finger to establishment designer orthodoxy.
Kirshenbaum + Bond presented a launch marketing project to Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger while he was on the Steel Wheels trip. They met at the Ritz Carlton bar in Naples.
Mick had actually gone to London School of Economics, so he typically acted more like a brand name supervisor for The Rolling Stones franchise, than the bands lead singer.
Jon Bond and Richard Kirshenbaum showed Mick a publication ad that included a photo of the band members on stage with no clothing (music instruments were tactically positioned).
Jagger gazed at the photo. And gazed some more.
Finally, Mick searched for and stated, “Well. Thats ok for me since, well, I keep myself quite fit. Have you had a good appearance at the other men?”.
It is hard beyond words to describe how profane, shocking, amusing, heartening and outrageous K+B work was within the tonality of 1990s America. The world was flat. Not even “Saturday Night Live” was especially amusing. This was a time before sex in the White House. Terrorists hijacked aircrafts, not nations or cities. Everyone might call The Beatles.
Playing in the amphitheater of 1990s media, commerce needed hard dollars to be seen or heard. Start-ups existed, but only after they had protected millions of dollars in funding. Marketing was targeted towards an ideal consumer, primped and ready for Prime Time, not for the fantastic sloppy consuming proletariat.
Emotional, individual, or social were adjectives scheduled for welcoming cards. All other advertisers gotten ready for polished full-frontal attacks.
By contrast the Kenneth Cole campaign was not only an effective use of media, it ended up being a loudspeaker for social issues, current events, human rights, values and social justice. (To address the concern whether or not purpose-driven brand names succeed: Kenneth Cole went from $2 million in sales to over $500 million throughout the life of the project.).
On the other side of town, the consumable Donny Deutsch was doing similar things (example: a genuine person bit to help release IKEAs entry into Long Island) but they did not stem from the exact same provocative spine tap.
Because the agency was driven by its culture, Kirshenbaum + Bond held an unfair benefit.
The culture of the agency was overt approval– if they were gay, the odd person in high school, the individual who didnt fit the mold– for the very first time in their lives they felt that they fit in. K+B was a place for castaways. At the firms 10th anniversary celebration, the receptionist, a substantial black gay male, set in Jon and Richards lap and sang “Mister President”.
A New, Disruptive Agency.
Standard, conservative marketing agencies considered K+B to be an insult, like a spit in the face.
” At K+B the culture was Best concepts win,” amounts up Rosemarie Ryan, former president of K+B. “There was no such thing as we cant do that. It was a meritocracy. People didnt appreciate titles, we appreciated what work we put out into the world. When I ended up being President, I was 31. Individuals were really young and tapped into the culture.”.
These days, Joe Doucet is head of his own style company JDXP and listed in Fast Company as one of the centurys leading commercial designers. He got a head start as Partner and head of the Design group at Kirshenbaum + Bond. Doucet remembers the intensity, the desire to do excellent work, the nearness of individuals who worked there. “We were the underdogs pitching versus much larger agencies,” he recalls. “We were extremely little, very nimble.”.
” We didnt consider advertising in standard regards to the 30-second television commercial– although we did lots of those,” recalls Rosemarie Ryan. “When I started we were 3 people and our clients didnt have huge budgets. So we had to learn how to make the most of what we had, which required us to think more creatively about how we went to market.
” PR was basic. We were integrated, word of mouth, experiences (chalk on pavement) that contributed to the other work we were doing. Tactically put media that might get a great deal of interest. We were method ahead of that– thats what made us effective. It was a really contemporary method to think about going to market.”.
” At the time we were really much media-agnostic– we didnt believe (the formula) print ad, television spot,” concurs Bill Oberlander, who today is founder and executive imaginative director at his agency Oberland. “For Snapple, I think the project was a B2B advertisement and we wondered how to get in touch with the audience. Period. That ended up being the concept for Snapple Stickers– we put sticker labels for Mango-Flavored Snapple on mangoes at the grocery store (and also on apples and other Snapple fruits).
” For Bambu lingerie we put sticker labels on the walkway: From here it looks like you need a new pair of underwear. We utilized watercolor paints so we wouldnt get in problem with the city.
” How do we touch the consumer at a psychological level– and lets simply make it up as we go?”.
Even The Stories Have Stories.
Anything you require to know to describe Jon Bond can be summed in a single sentence: His mother was a psychoanalyst and his daddy was a movie and theater star. He dropped off bundles at swanky advertising companies and during one shipment identified David Ogilvys “Confessions of an Advertising Man”. He ended up being enthralled and chose to end up being an advertising copywriter.
Soon after James Patterson flashed the Kenneth Cole Imelda Marcos advertisement in front of Richard Kirshenbaum, Jon Bond satisfied Bill Tragos, among the founders of marketing company TBWA, at a party in Greenwich, Connecticut. Jon Bond asked Bill Tragos if he need to start a marketing firm. “Do it,” stated Tragos. “Youll make a great deal of cash.”.
Where Are They Now?
Graduates of K+B have spilled out into the universe and become directors, professional photographers, designers, and home builders of their own agencies.
Jane Geraghty is in London running Landor. Strategist Domenico Vitale helped to develop People Ideas + Culture, a new kind of imaginative company. Account executive Felicia Stingone assisted rebrand 92nd Street Y into 92Y and after that went to deal with famous New York City restauranteur Danny Meyer. Imaginative Mike McGuire became a dynamite movie director. Rosemarie Ryan started co-collective. Jon Bond is still in Manhattan, and even today is a serial entrepreneur with companies like Media Kitchen, Big Fuel, Lime, The Shipyard, and more.
” Jon Bond is basically the guerilla marketing leader,” says Geoff Colon, head of Microsoft Advertisings Brand Studio. Colon reminds us from Seattle that human behavior has actually ended up being streamlined to information points and attribution; instinctive judgement is out of bounds. “Jon was a pioneer in the space we now consider to be guerilla or disruptive marketing, when in truth he was just believing, This is how individuals act — lets take advantage of that in some way.
” People in the tech world believe thats trivial any longer,” says Colon. “We take for approved the things we do today. We forget that they were when original ideas.”.
Which is most likely the very best method to keep in mind Kirsenbaum + Bond.
Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by: Patrick Hanlon, Author of Primal Branding.
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