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50 Years of Evolving While Remaining True to Roots: Independent Agency Mintz + Hoke Celebrates Golden Anniversary
22/08/2022
Group745
Advertising Agency
Denver, USA
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Mintz + Hoke managing principal and CEO Ron Perine on their early adoption of digital marketing in 1994, fostering a culture of 'whole people' and maintaining a philosophy to be Immersively Different
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Mintz + Hoke, a member of the Worldwide Partners (WPI) independent agency network since 1974 and an award-winning full-service advertising agency, is celebrating 50 years of uncovering unmet, often unseen, customer needs. Worldwide Partners spoke with managing principal and CEO Ron Perine about their early adoption of digital marketing in 1994, fostering a culture of 'whole people' and maintaining a philosophy to be Immersively Different.


WPI > What do you attribute to your agency's longevity? What principles/practices have led to your continued success?

Ron > An agency doesn’t go 50 years without evolving while remaining true to its roots. In June 1971, our founders, Alan Mintz and Joe Hoke, brought their shared vision to life, creating an ad agency based on the principle of understanding the customer before making the ad. Then called Street Smart and now Immersively Different, this philosophy continues to guide our success.

Watch our 50th-anniversary video to see it in action.

Equally, our founders aimed to foster a culture where people were treated like human beings - a whole person - and not just an employee. Over the years, we developed a set of agency values integral to who we are and what we do. They are present in everything from our creative process to our DEIB employment practices.

These five core values feed our success daily:

Inspire/Be Inspired

Bring a sense of curiosity to everything you do. Immerse yourself in the world of ideas and inspire those around you with your thinking while being open to the creativity of others, especially those beyond our office walls.

Embrace the Gray

We are in the idea business. Few things are black and white. Embracing creativity means stepping outside our comfort zones to explore those blurry edges. When we can do that, everything is more exciting.

Always Bring a Gift

Whether in a client meeting or interacting with co-workers back at the office, always strive to go above and beyond. Whether it’s a point of view or some other way to over-deliver - regardless of the situation - by doing more than expected.

Honour Respect

Respect is reciprocal, necessary and contagious. What each of us says matters. What each of us does matters. And what each of us brings to the table matters.

Own It

We’re all accountable to ourselves, each other and the agency. Be self-motivated, take pride in everything you do in the service of our agency and lead by example.


WPI > How has your agency changed/adapted over the years? 

Ron >> The advertising industry is vastly changed and even more fast-paced with the advancement of digital since our founding in June 1971. Where many agencies had to play catch-up, Mintz + Hoke has always been forward-looking, so we were positioned well. In 1994, we set up our first Macintosh computer with an internet connection. This was the beginning of the digital age for ad agencies and clients interested in website development. Mintz + Hoke was an early adopter with technology-oriented internal teams, which gave us an edge.

Mintz + Hoke formally launched a digital design group in 1996, with the intent to incorporate design into the web development process. This approach differentiated Mintz + Hoke from other agencies as we were able to see how offline design translated online. Importantly, we brought on teams with a strong understanding of the fundamentals of print to carry over to this new medium. With our Immersively Different approach, we also saw the need for cohesion between client websites and their marketing communications campaigns.

To meet the expanding media needs of clients and partner agencies without a media practice, we founded Media Only in 2002. And in 2022, we added our PR practice, founded in 1979, to Media Only to help clients and partners leverage the power of earned and paid. 

With all our capabilities, we believe the key to a client’s success is to be strategic when adding new digital tools to their marketing mix - tools that work with their goals and their brand. Often, our process fosters partnerships with clients who turn to us for overall business counsel. This collaborative work makes the creative product even better.


WPI > What services did you provide when you first opened? What services do you now provide?

Ron >> Mintz + Hoke opened its doors with an integrated approach offering advertising, research, and media services. Today, we’ve expanded to a full-service advertising agency providing an array of creative, research, strategy, design, branding, and digital solutions. In addition, our Media Only division delivers the gamut of media and PR capabilities, including media strategy, planning, buying, and brand activation services, as well as PR strategy, media relations, community relations, and social media strategy, planning, and content creation. 

With decades of experience across a range of industries in both B2B and B2C categories, our agency has been recognized with numerous awards as a top advertising agency with top talent. And with our people-first culture, we’ve also been named one of Connecticut’s best workplaces by the Hartford Courant, FoxCT and the Hartford Business Journal.


WPI > How has the agency grown over the past 20 years?

Ron > In Mintz + Hoke’s first year of operation, our founders added three employees for a total of five team members: one in client service, one in media, two in the creative department, and one in research. Great ideas and execution translate to growth. With its expanding staff and client roster, Mintz + Hoke moved to Avon, Conn. in 1974 where the agency is still headquartered. Prior to the advent of computers, the agency grew to 120 employees and a second office in Boston. 

Today, we have a dedicated and talented team of 44 Mintz + Hokers. With a lens on DEIB from the beginning, many women on the team are in leadership roles, including three of the agency’s five principals and many of their direct reports. In addition, Mintz + Hoke is an advocate of inclusive employment and recently created a position to employ an individual with a developmental disability. 

The focus on our people and our Immersively Different philosophy is also notable in the dedicated tenure of our principals. Lynette McCarthy, Principal, Broadcast Buying has been with Mintz + Hoke since 1978. Andrew Wood, Principal, Strategy, Sara-Beth Donovan, President, Media Only + Principal, Media, and Kara Mitchell, Principal, Client Service have each had two stints at the agency spanning multiple decades. And I am in my 28th year. 


WPI > A lot has changed for Mintz + Hoke and the industry in the past five decades. Is there anything that hasn’t changed for you?

Ron >> At Mintz + Hoke, it’s what we haven’t changed that’s helped enable our longevity and growth. Our Immersively Different philosophy has been at the heart of all we do for 50 years and counting. And while it’s evolved over the decades, the essence of it remains the same. Being Immersively Different means we step out of our offices and immerse ourselves in our clients’ customers’ worlds. It’s this approach that has allowed the agency to successfully evolve and solve for clients. 

Using qualitative methods, we delve deep in pursuit of genuine insights you can only gather by talking with people. We find out who our clients’ customers are and actually go to the factory, the flight line, the hospital, or the construction site. We meet them where they are, we ask questions and we listen. And like a detective, we keep going. We get to know the humans behind the data in an authentic way. The goal is to unearth something revelatory about the customer that, coupled with our quantitative research, will spark a breakthrough creative idea.

From there, we bring the customer into the creative process from the start, developing personas boards from our learning. By doing so, the customer remains a human, not a data point, and front and center throughout, from strategy development to asset production. We also share insight, ideation, and messaging across our practices for cohesive, integrated campaigns that make the most of our clients’ budgets. The result? Communications that truly impact how people feel, think, and act. 

Meet our clients’ customers at the heart of our story.


WPI > You have been a member of Worldwide Partners since 1974, almost since the start of the agency. Tell us why you’ve been part of the network for so long.

Ron > When we joined in 1974, WPI was called Affiliated Advertising Agencies International (AAAI), and since then, it has grown into a truly global network. Our founders were creative professionals and first reached out to then AAAI for help in structuring the business. Two executives from different member agencies flew to our offices in Connecticut to provide financial, administrative, and organisational strategies to help set us on track. It was the beginning of an enduring partnership that has been mutually beneficial.

Whether domestic or global, the WPI network has helped Mintz + Hoke with new market entry to give our Immersively Different promise authenticity, as true understanding is so much more than the data available to all. It’s the nuances of knowing a market that can make all the difference. WPI provides a 'we live here' level of insight. This expertise has facilitated cultural coherence and alignment on a host of needs, from strategy and ideation, to transcreation assistance, to audience insights and campaign creation, to media and event planning.

At the same time, Mintz + Hoke features WPI and its agency partners in RFPs and new business pitches to offer market breadth as an enhancement to our credentials. We also tap WPI as a networking resource to meet leaders of like-minded agencies for honest, genuine advice, guidance, and understanding. In a competitive world, this type of peer sharing and exchange is invaluable.


WPI > What is your all-time favourite campaign or project?

Ron >> As with every agency, our latest campaign is always our favourite! But with all our campaigns one thing remains constant: Our Immersively Different approach. We’re especially proud of our work in support of social issues, including with Access Health CT (AHCT), where we’ve taken them from launching the state’s health insurance marketplace to now elevating that work by addressing health disparities in the state. The goal? To support its mission to improve the health of the people of Connecticut.

Formative research along with Marcus and Tyler vignette

Mintz + Hoke worked with AHCT to commission research, develop actionable strategies, and illustrate health disparities to make an impact.

Mintz + Hoke developed a strategic framework to help AHCT launch a subsidiary business to deepen the relationships they have and the support they offer the community. The aim is to address the drivers of disparities identified through our study, offering interception points on the life path we illustrated through the Marcus and Tyler vignette and others.

“Over the decades, Mintz + Hoke has been an active partner, providing market insights, strategic consultancy, and creative and media support for our network,” said  John Harris, CEO of Worldwide Partners. “Their longevity as a member speaks volumes about the mutual benefit between WPI and agencies, and we look forward to another half a century together."

To learn more about how Mintz + Hoke turns insight into impact, visit: www.mintz-hoke.com and connect with them on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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