Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Advertising you can't buy!

I was editing some footage from last year's Rockers vs Mods and stumbled across this gem which was shot at the Fallout Lounge. I now know the Ulisses, the owner's, amazing success in an obscure location with little or no advertising.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adweek on the Vice Squad Agency, Inc.

We spoke to Gregory Solman, an adweek staffer, last week and he gave his take on our little shop of whorers:

"LOS ANGELES Mark Roberts, founder and CCO of the new shop Vice Squad, Inc., had a revelation one day while freelancing: An unnamed Omnicom agency declared that it could not accept an online gambling client because of ethical concerns.

That made no business sense to Roberts, who had moonlighted as a freelance creative director for strip clubs in the past. "The adult industry feels ostracized by the business community," he observed.

So, a month ago Roberts and partner David Marett, who goes by the title vice president, opened a Dallas shop to service clients other agencies were too embarrassed or forbidden by networks to take, or who put them furtively in their portfolios and treated like second-class citizens."


Saturday, September 6, 2008

How this all came about

A few people from the press have asked how all this started and I wanted to write it down to get it straight in my own booze-addled mind. This idea was spawned out of several disparate events that all came together fairly neatly.

Planting the seed:
About five years ago there was a mutual fund started called the Vice Fund (vicex). I was just quitting an agency job with DDB Dallas and folded my 401k into it because I thought the concept was brilliant. A mutual fund dedicated to investing in Gaming, Tobacco, Liquor and Defense. Little did I expect, the fund doubled and made me a true believer.

Seeing the need:
Several years later, I was freelancing for another large Omnicom shop and they had a "bodog"-type online gambling client on the hook. Well, I was doing most of their pitch creative and saw the numbers in the RFP. To my amazement, this gambling outfit (which I had never heard of) had budgets that rivaled a pretty large multinational. But as it turned out, Omnicom got wind of it and made this shop withdraw from the pitch. This struck me as ultimately hypocritical as other shops have clients that range from Philip Morris to Diageo to Harrah's. But then I remembered all how furtive they handled even these large clients. Their logos rarely showed up on the client slide and the work was usually handled by the least experienced people in the shop.

The final piece of the puzzle:
After three years trying to get a traditional shop running with little success I was frustrated as hell. We would go pitch like mad and I would focus all my efforts in that direction. We'd run out of cash and I'd have to freelance for other shops to cover running expenses. Rinse and repeat. Then we had a bit of success and landed a fairly prestigious Texas homebuilder, Sotherby Homes. This was in large part thanks to the consultant and now business partner David Marett. David and I had been friends for a long time but seeing this side of him was remarkable. He's a salesman at his core, but not to the point of being erudite or cheesy. He was doing everything right in the pitch and the success was sweet and addictive.

Once the concept of the Vice Squad Agency was spawned from my ultimate frustration (and half a fifth of Maker's Mark), everything snapped into place like all the elements had rubber bands attached. Either the rest will be history or the whole idea will be. But you never know till you try and I like our odds.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Three Sheets

I ran across this series on Hulu and thought I would share it. It is very interesting despite the smarmy host and campy graphics. I consider myself pretty well informed on brewing, liquor and cocking about, but I learned a bit from these shows. The information on the local brews and liquors is very interesting, plus some of the locals are pretty funny.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Got some schwagg!

Just got the shirts back and I think they turned out great. We sent out a few capabilities pieces to some choice prospects with these enclosed. Probably not a deal-maker but you never know. Although, I once got a job in Seattle because at an interview I gave Gatorade shirts done by Frank Kozik, which I worked on. When the creative director asked who they should hire, one of the art directors say "How 'bout the guy who gave us shirts." Go figure.

If you guys want one, you had better let me know soon before we run out. We have Larges XLarges and girlie smalls. We'll probably do some more so if anyone wants a specific size, just let me know.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Vice Squad Agency, Inc. is open for business

After fifteen years experience working at large agencies that apologetically work on gaming, liquor, tobacco & other industries labeled “undesirable”, vice presidents Mark Roberts and David Marett finally got a belly-full of the hypocrisy. These sorts of companies never appear on client lists, but they sure do cash the checks. This scenario led these seasoned sales and advertising veterans to believe there is a niche for an agency that would exclusively service legitimate companies providing products and services targeted towards adults. The Vice Squad Agency is now here to make vice legitimate again.

The Vice Squad Agency

To put it plainly, Vice Squad Agency is a new promotions and marketing firm in Dallas that specializes in vice.

Market Summary

Gambling, Alcohol and the Adult Industry comprise an enormous portion of our economy, yet there is not a single advertising agency catering to their needs - until now. We believe there are vast opportunities to both create solid creative work and help businesses in these sectors reach their full potential. Furthermore, many companies in “vice”-related industries haven’t had the benefit of professional marketing services and stand to see dramatic increases in sales and profits by utilizing marketing tactics utilized by mainstream companies.

Market Overview

  • Gambling expenditures in the United States remain the highest in the world, with leisure dollars fueling a $60-billion industry.
  • The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) expects U.S. revenue to spirits makers to reach $19 billion in 2008.
  • 7.4 billion gallons of beer were consumed in the U.S. in 2005.
  • The sex-toy market, brings in between $8 billion and $12 billion each year in the U.S.
  • Tattooing in the U.S. is an estimated $2.3 billion industry.
  • Adult films are estimated to be generating $750 million to $1 billion per year in revenue.

Management Overview

Mark Roberts – With sixteen years experience, his first full-time industry job in 1992 was working at the advertising boot camp which was StatCat. His resume for the following few years resembles a song list from a punk rock album: Fuqua & Eyre Foodservice Agency (1:35); The Promotion Network (2:10); Barnes Brand in Seattle (1:10). After this whirlwind he settled down at DDB Dallas for around 4 years, then Square1 for another couple of years. This agency shuffle has given Mark diverse experience and a lot of grey hair. But mostly, Mark has a commitment to providing the best solutions for his clients, not his portfolio or some award show judge. Mark's take on life and work is to keep it simple and make sure there is a logo on it somewhere.

David Marett – Is sales and marketing incarnate. From his early start as the “Camel Guy” ramping up KBA’s (in)famous on-premise cigarette promotion to working on sales and marketing of bar and nightclub insurance at CSI, David’s career has run the gambit.

David and Mark’s professional career began when he was hired as a consultant to help regional homebuilder increase marketing presence with realtors, which generated some serious buzz in the industry.

Since the real estate market has softened, David has gone back to what he knows best, booze, broads and cigarettes – well, marketing them anyway.

One of his early career highlights were the fashion shows he produced and promoted at Dallas icon, The Red Jacket. The upside is after running herd on 20-year-old models managing a few account service people is a dance in the park.