Mastering the constantly changing world of technology while balancing those changes with clients’ needs keeps the Maris West & Baker advertising agency vital.
The Jackson-based agency was founded in 1970, and the Gordon Marks agency merged with it in 1990. Peter Marks, a third-generation advertising executive, is president of Maris West & Baker.
“Things are changing so fast. We try to stay on top of technology to find the best solutions for our clients,” Marks said.
“We can’t use the latest technology if it doesn’t suit our clients. The bottom line is: how efficient is it for our clients?”
Marks, a Jackson Ad Club Silver Medal winner like his father and grandfather, says digital technology is a matter of getting the right message to the right person at the right time with very little waste.
“Digital has its place, but we will always have print, radio and television; all of it will compliment each other.”
He also affirms that the agency is in the people business.
“Even with changing technology we will still have face-to-face contact with our clients,” he said. “We will keep clients and get new ones because they trust us. We’ve found that to be a successful formula.”
Creative successes at MWB this year include the brand change of Newk’s Express Café to Newk’s Eatery with a new logo.
“It’s fun to go from planning and research to a brand update as we did with Newk’s,” Marks said.
“The senior staff who worked on it included Keith Fraser, Marc Leffler and Randy Lynn.”
The agency won five national Addys, which Marks says is rare in Mississippi.
“We’ve also done creative work with the Shack Up Inn in the Delta and have some exciting new clients in the contract phase,” he added.
Branding is a large part of what the MWB team does for clients. Tim Mask has been with the agency 13 years and serves as vice president in charge of brand planning and development. He says the changing technology is making his job more interesting but harder with more clutter and more channels.
“Branding has always been a big part of advertising. The thing that’s changed is the way we communicate the message and attributes of branding,” he said. “What made a good brand way back when is what makes a good brand now.”
The proliferation of broadband and the ever increasing access to web-based mobile devices ensures that brands must fight against many messages to be heard.
“The interactive market is more accountable because it’s easier to track — we can capture the information and track it, and we can micro target messages to audiences in a way that’s almost scary,” Mask believes.
“At some point everyone is involved in it. That’s the way the industry is going. There’s been more change in the last 10 to 15 years than in the past 50 years and that’s exciting.”
With mobile technology greatly used by young people, the MWB agency has its share of young people on staff. A 24 year old is in charge of social media for clients. However, Marks points out that older staff are keeping up to date with workshops and continuing education.
Among the agency’s proudest moments is their work on Mississippi’s anti-tobacco campaign.
“We were able to contribute to one of the most recognized state-run programs in the country, and we know it’s had a very positive impact and has saved money in health care costs,” Marks said. “We’re really proud of that.”
They’ve also been involved in the immunization and better nutrition health care initiatives. “It’s tough to change social norms, but it makes us feel good to be a part of the effort,” Marks added.
The agency made a decision to be a Mississippi agency and part of the state’s creative economy.
“We think our state and all we have to offer has been a well-kept secret,” Marks said. “We have a lot of good agencies in the state, and there’s good work being created that’s cutting edge with less costs.”