Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Inc. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Inc.

720 California Street
San Francisco, California 94108

Company Perspectives:

We believe that this is a time of great upheaval in the way brands ar e created, and our company is evolving to anticipate and take best ad vantage of the new environment around us. The old model, in which adv ertisers address captive audiences with unavoidable messages, is a th ing of the past. To be successful in a faster, more voluntary world, we have to engage our audiences, creating messages, often in unexpect ed places, that people welcome and even seek out. This kind of commun ication will have elements of entertainment and avant-garde media thi nking not presently associated with advertising.

History of Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Inc.

Best known for its "Got Milk" campaign for the California Fluid Milk Producers Advisory Board, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Inc. ope rates as a subsidiary of advertising services conglomerate Omnicom Gr oup, which consists of BBDO Worldwide, DDB Needham Worldwide, TBWA In ternational, and Diversified Agency Services. It has won every major advertising award, most of them many times over.

1980s: Creating a Distinctive Style of Advertising

Jeff Goodby, Andy Berlin, and Rich Silverstein cofounded Goodby, Berl in & Silverstein in 1983. Rich Silverstein was raised in New York where he attended the Parsons School of Design. When he graduated in 1973, he moved to San Francisco and began working at Rolling Ston e magazine as a graphic designer and, later, as an art director. After his stint at Rolling Stone, he worked at various adverti sing agencies throughout San Francisco, including Bozell & Jacobs , McCann/Erickson, Foote, Cone & Belding, and Ogilvy & Mather . Silverstein met Jeff Goodby in 1980 while the two were working unde r Hal Riney at Ogilvy & Mather.

A graduate of Harvard University and a staffer at the Harvard Lamp oon, Goodby had originally intended to become a journalist. After college, he worked as a city hall reporter at a small daily newspape r in Massachusetts. However, when he relocated to San Francisco with his wife, he decided to try his hand at advertising. "[I] opened the Yellow Pages and started with "A". ... Along the way someone advised me to create a resume of myself that would show a sense of humor. So I did a parody of an encyclopedia entry of myself, as if I were dead. And that got me a job at J. Walter Thompson," Goodby recalled in Inc. in 2004.

As collaborators on various projects, Silverstein and Goodby won nume rous prizes for their groundbreaking advertising campaigns at Ogilvy & Mather. They came up with the idea of starting their own agency while working on a freelance project with Andy Berlin. With barely e nough money to cover operating expenses and only one client, the Elec tronic Arts Software Co., the three opened Goodby, Berlin, & Silv erstein in 1983.

Soon after, Goodby met Will Hearst, the grandson of William Randolph Hearst, who at the time was the publisher of the San Francisco Exa miner. Hearst invited Goodby and his partners to compete for the newspaper's account. Goodby recalled in a 2004 San Francisco Chron icle article: "The idea we presented was a parody of the film Citizen Kane, which was of course a damning indictment of Will's grandfather. ... [H]e liked it and even agreed to act in the commerci als, playing the tortured figure who ran the newspaper. The campaign really got a lot of notoriety and we were on our way."

With the Examiner ad, the company began building a reputation for creating unusual, humorous, and provocative ads. Looking back ove r the company's history, Goodby described the creative philosophy in a 2004 San Francisco Chronicle article: "[We tried] to approac h people with respect, to treat them as if they have a sense of humor , as if they are paying attention, as if they are smart, and look for the highest common denominator rather than the lowest common denomin ator, like most advertising does." During the company's early years, Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein gained recognition for a variety of innovative ads. Examples of the company style include commercials for Isuzu, in which a driver plunges his off-road vehicle into the middl e of a room-sized birthday cake, and its Norwegian Cruise Line accoun t, where a passenger vows: "I will be naked more often." One billboar d they created for the San Francisco Examiner, in which TV new scasters are portrayed as Barbie and Ken dolls, was so provocative th at a TV station manager broadcast an angry rebuttal. The partners als o distinguished Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein from their bigger ri vals by promising their clients that one of the agency's founders wou ld personally head up every account.

In the late 1980s, the London agency Boase Massimi Pollit (BMP) purch ased a minority stake in Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein. Through BM P, the partners met Colin Probert and Jon Steel, who later became Goo dby, Berlin & Silverstein's president and director of planning, r espectively. The relationship between BMP and Goodby, Berlin & Si lverstein proved profitable to both companies and lasted until BMP wa s sold, including its minority stake in Goodby, Berlin & Silverst ein, to Omnicom Group, a holding company of ad agencies and design fi rms, in 1991. That same year, Advertising Age named Goodby, Be rlin & Silverstein Agency of the Year for the second time. In 199 0 (and again in 1992 and 1994), Adweek named Jeff Goodby and R ich Silverstein National Creative Directors of the Year. In addition to this prestigious award, Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein also won Adweek's West Coast Agency of the Year award in 1992 and again in 1993 and 1994.

Early 1990s: Experiencing Steady Growth As Part of Omnicom

Soon after the sale, Omnicom's chairman and CEO, Bruce Crawford, offe red to sell Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein's shares back to the age ncy, but the partners declined the offer. Instead, in 1992, Goodby, B erlin & Silverstein sold Omnicom its remaining shares. The deal i ncluded a stipulation that Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein would ret ain full managerial and creative control of the agency, while Omnicom would operate solely as a silent partner. "We made sure the company continued to have [our] name on the door. ... And we tried to show ev eryone that we were still going to make business decisions on the bas is of whether we were doing good work and having fun. We still pitche d the accounts we wanted to pitch and resigned the ones we didn't wan t to work on. And Omnicom didn't interfere ...," Goodby recalled in a July 2004 Inc. article. At the time, Goodby, Berlin & Sil verstein's accounts included American Isuzu Motors, Norwegian Cruise Line, the National Baseball Association, and Sega of America.

Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein's sale to Omnicom did not improve re lations between the agency's founders, and by mid-1993, trade publica tions were frequently reporting tensions between Berlin and his two p artners. By August of that year, Berlin left Goodby, Berlin & Sil verstein to become chairman and CEO of Berlin Wright Cameron in New Y ork. The agency immediately reorganized around Berlin's absence. In 1 994, three new partners joined the agency: Colin Probert and Jon Stee l, formerly of Boase Massimi Pollit, and Harold Sogard. The agency ch anged its name to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to reflect their arrival.

Also in 1993, the company reached the full expression of its trademar k humor with the introduction of the "Got Milk?" campaign for the Flu id Milk Processors Advisory Board. One ad won the agency "Best in Sho w" at the annual Clio Awards in 1994. In it, an Aaron Burr expert los es a phone contest when he can not answer the question "Who shot Alex ander Hamilton?" because his mouth is clogged with a peanut butter sa ndwich, and he has no milk to wash it down. This and other ads in the series departed obliquely from former advertising attempts to sell m ilk by promoting its ability to "build strong bones." Instead, the ad s focused on foods that would be inedible without milk, reaching cons umers on a gut rather than intellectual level. "The time you most not ice milk is when it's gone," Goodby reflected in a 1994 Los Angele s Times article. "We could make ads until we're blue in the face, but not many people are going to come in from jogging on a hot day a nd drink a tall glass of milk."

After the "Got Milk?" ads began appearing on grocery carts, bus shelt ers, billboards, and television, milk consumption among teenagers and young adults in the state of California increased for the first time in ten years, according to the Milk Processors Board. The following year, in 1994, Wisconsin and Hawaii paid to use portions of the campa ign, at which point the Milk Processors Board devised a secondary str ategy: building alliances with consumer product companies including c ereal and cookie makers. Soon, the Board began to underwrite 50 perce nt of the cost of in-store sampling in return for manufacturers, such as General Mills and Mother's Cookies, distributing cents-off coupon s for milk. Wheaties, Total, and Cheerios carried the tag line: "Got Milk?"

Late 1990s: The Move to a More Horizontal Structure

By the mid-1990s, business was booming for Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which had billings upwards of $260 million. Yet despite this success, the agency's staff of 160 writers, artists, and direct ors still wore t-shirts and tennis shoes to work, and the agency main tained its headquarters in a modest brick building in San Francisco's Embarcadero. Goodby himself, known for his long, graying hair, conti nued to write poetry and screenplays. "Some people take this business so seriously," he averred in a 1994 Chronicle article. "I thi nk I have enough of a sense of humor about it that it helps me keep m y perspective. I haven't taken it too seriously and I still have fun doing it." He and Silverstein signed contracts with Omnicom in 1995 t o stay at the helm through 2000.

Two years after earning its prestigious "Best in Show" award at the C lios, the agency dominated the awards competition again in 1995, rece iving two gold and 12 silver statuettes, the largest number of Clios for a single shop. Goodby, Sil- verstein & Partners also won the most awards at the annual National Addy Awards sponsored by the Ameri can Advertising Federation for the second year in a row in 1995. In 1 995 and again in 1998, six of its campaigns were finalists in the Kel ly Awards, the most for any one agency in history. Also in 1995, the Norwegian Cruise Line campaign was awarded that competition's Grand P rize, and in 1996, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners' campaign for P orsche was awarded the Grand Prize.

By 1996, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners was finally attracting la rge, high-profile accounts: the Bud Ice beer brand of Anheuser-Busch, Polaroid Corporation's Polaroid instant cameras, and Porsche A.G.'s sports cars. Billings soon surged to $360 million, making the age ncy the second largest shop (along with Hal Riney & Partners) in San Francisco behind Foote, Cone & Belding. Although, according t o Goodby in a 1996 New York Times article, his agency had not made expansion a goal, the agency's increased visibility caught the a ttention of Omnicom managers, who started contemplating national and international expansion.

In 1997 and 1998, the agency was named Clio Agency of the Year. Also in 1998, its Nike skateboarding campaign received the Cannes Festival 's Grand Prix award for "Best Advertising Campaign in the World." How ever, there were also negative aspects of the agency's success. Aroun d this time, a new group of small, energetic ad agencies began to eme rge in San Francisco. As a result, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners soon lost a number of its top creative staffers who were eager to st ep out on their own by taking jobs at other agencies. Additionally, s ome of its executives left to form their own competing agency, Grant, Scott & Hurley. These defections were difficult for Goodby, who said in a 2004 San Francisco Chronicle, "It took me a while to stop being angry at people who left. I don't anymore. ... [T]he guys who have a good batting average are going to be taken away at large sums. We can't keep 15 people at large salaries. ..."

By 1999, the agency was earning a gross income of $58 million on billings of $670 million. To confront its challenges, it surveyed its employees to find out what they liked and disliked about the com pany. In 2000, it implemented a streamlined approach to new business. Some of the new changes included creating, for the first time, the p osition of group account director and the development of an in-house school, GS&P University, which offered employees classes that cov ered topics such as design and public speaking. In addition, a policy of flex time and formal mentoring for new employees was started.

The early years of the new century were years of significant change a t Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. To grapple with the challenge o f maintaining the agency's corporate culture and retaining talented p eople, Goodby and Silverstein instituted a more horizontal structure. Wanting to empower staffers and motivate them to do their best work, they handed over many day-to-day creative responsibilities to their creative staffs.

In 2001, this move was followed by the layoff of 35 to 40 workers and salary cuts for employees in order to trim expenses in the face of m ajor client SBC Communications' departure and the loss of $100 mi llion or 10 percent of the agency's business. Notwithstanding this se tback, the agency continued to grow over the next several years. C ampaign magazine, Britain's industry publication, named it one of the ten "hottest shops," and in 2004 awarded it International Advert iser of the Year for work on Hewlett-Packard. Also in 2004, both Good by and Silverstein were inducted into The One Club Hall of Fame for a dvertisers.

Looking to the future, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners continued t o try to find a way to repay people for their attention, to create ad vertising that "[rewarded] with delight, with humor, insight or an em otional giveback that is not fundamentally dishonest." According to a Los Angeles Times article in 1996, "The creative pair still a vowed the desire to 'have an impact on popular culture and maybe chan ge the way people think about advertising.'"

Principal Competitors: Arnold Worldwide; Carmichael Lynch Inc. ; Colby & Partners; Crispin Porter; Dailey & Associates; Fall on Worldwide; Leo Burnett; McCann Worldgroup; Ogilvy & Mather; Pu blicis & Hal Riney; Red Cell; Wieden + Kennedy.


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