This cartoon was partly inspired by reading someone described as the MD of EMEA at VMLY&R, part of WPP.
I’ve always found it funny that some of the most successful ad agencies have some of the least imaginative names. The alphabet soup names of many agencies are hard to tell apart, and could be easily mistaken for law firms. And yet, their job is literally to help clients manage and grow their own brands with originality and creativity.
Many ad agency names are last initials of once pedigreed last names, with the notable exception of WPP (which I learned started as Wire and Plastic Products, before becoming one of the largest ad agency holding companies in the world). Many are also complicated by mergers, with initials bolted on to connect to the legacy of the past.
Yet, as Dave Droga put it recently in an interview about his own agency’s rebrand: “You either grow into the future or you’re shrinking into the past.”
Most companies face this type of branding and rebranding challenge, whether for product names or the whole brand. How to come up with a unique name that means something? How much to hold on to the legacy of the past and how much to create new meaning?
The path of least resistance is often a peace treaty that leaves everyone dissatisfied.
Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years: