February 2018

An inquiry came through our website from a young man who was gathering information from several advertising agencies around the country. The questions were interesting – different in their own way.  I thought I’d share my responses. 

What inspires you in your work?
My inspiration comes from mentors who love life…love what they do…never lost the fire in their belly…and who after 40 to 50 years in the business still seek to be better and do better. I can honestly say that I am as inspired about the advertising agency industry today as I was 41 years ago. Not necessarily because of the “business” itself, which is still pretty dang good, but because I get to teach and mentor the next generation of marketing geniuses. That’s cool. I relish teaching the kids who are just graduating from college; young minds hungry for knowledge, and really passionate about their future. That inspires me. 

I have always believed that if you can capture the attention of the youth culture, you capture the attention of pop culture and mainstream culture. People often say the next generation is our future, but my pushback to that is they’re only going to be our future if we make them our present. Molding the present is a passion for me. 

How would you describe the creativity culture at 78Madison?
Sometimes creativity, as a culture, is hard to get your arms around.  We work hard at cultivating an open and exploratory environment at 78Madison, which by the way is tough when you are smaller. 

Our core belief is that whether you’re an accountant or an art director at 78Madison, every job or project has an array of objectives and with that, a series of problems to solve. This is where creativity comes into play.

How is that culture cultivated and maintained?
We have an open, no fear environment. We encourage everyone to bring all their interests to the table. If someone has an idea that is completely from left field, bring it. Often it leads to an idea better than the one we had in mind.  

In your opinion, what ingredients are key to creating a successful team that turns into a successful agency?
Wow. Deep. Learning from many of the best minds in the industry, I would conclude that the key to a successful agency is understanding that if we’re not failing in some respects, we’re not trying hard enough…not pushing the envelope enough. To be successful, individually and as an agency, I believe you must:

• Be willing to learn from mistakes.
• Believe that no matter what role you play, you are a contributor to the cause.
• Understand that creativity is a tool to solve a problem
• Be able to fight for what you think is right, without repercussions.
• Believe in your leadership team. 

We don’t believe in micro management and handholding. We want to be surprised and delighted by the initiative and creativity of every team member.

How do you distribute responsibilities?
Probably if you asked the staff at 78Madison they would say I randomly shout around the room at people as thoughts pop into my head. And then of course no one listens…. 

Being a small company, “responsibilities” are an ever-evolving framework.  As owners, Pam and I are deeply involved in all aspects of the business. As well, we would like to think that we are obsessive learners and as such, we hire people that are also looking to self-improve. 

When you are a smaller organization, it truly is an “all hands-on deck” mentality. Yes, everyone is hired with a job description in mind, but once onboard, we all become keepers of the brand, which means we all pitch in to make sure 78Madison delivers for its clients every day. A whatever it takes attitude. 

Said differently, we are all responsible for each other, 78Madison, and our clients. 

How would you deal with an angry customer? 
It really depends on the circumstance, and gravity of the anger. But first and foremost, we will listen to their misgivings and as appropriate offer a solution. Never are we looking for a war, or to burn bridges. That does nobody any good. We Listen.  Empathize. Offer a solution that both parties can live with. 

How do you communicate bad news?
Straight up. Tell the full truth 100% of the time. Lying is never an option; it will fail you every time. 

Can you describe your agency in three words?
Not really. But, stealing from our tagline – Get Inspired. Get Connected. Get Mad. – I’ll go with Inspired. Connected. Resourceful. 

Joe Bouch
CEO, 78Madison 

78Madison is an Orlando-based full-service marketing communications firm who wants to help clients Get Inspired, Get Connected and Get Mad.  We’d love to start a conversation. Come visit us in the Scan Design Building in Altamonte Springs, Florida.