Cirlot kicks off ‘Mississippi, Believe It!’

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Published: December 5,2005

This week, The Cirlot Agency Inc. will launch Mississippi, Believe It!, a public service campaign designed to inform and educate Mississippi schoolchildren and others about the many positive attributes of the Magnolia State.

Through an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Education, the Jackson-based corporate communications firm has distributed a full set of Mississippi, Believe It! posters to every public and private K-12 school in the state.

“The Cirlot Agency’s intention is to present this statewide image campaign to the state as a gift,” said Rick Looser, COO of The Cirlot Agency, whose firm invested more than $100,000 in time and money on the campaign.

The seeds for the campaign were planted three years ago, after a client told Looser about speaking with a group of national business writers. “The writers believed Mississippi had no publicly traded companies when, in fact, Mississippi is home to several,” recalled Looser. “This misconception was the catalyst for the agency’s creation of this widely varied campaign.”

Last year, The Cirlot Agency created a public service announcement that read: Yes, we can read. A few of us can even write. It featured famous writers from Mississippi, such as Eudora Welty and William Faulkner.

“No other state is so misunderstood or so quick to be judged,” Looser pointed out. “We wanted this to be done in a smart, creative and even humorous way to disarm preconceived notions that companies from Mississippi have to deal with getting business outside the state.”

For the new campaign, Flowood-based Service Printers donated the paper and printing, valued at more than $20,000, for the 22,000 posters. They were initially ready to unveil in schools statewide August 30, a day after Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The rollout was placed on hold until after Thanksgiving.

The campaign also includes 11 public service announcements that will be distributed to newspapers, magazines and trade publications, the Associated Press and other wire services. Television stations, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and university and college publications will also receive the campaign.

A Web site, mississippibelieveit.com, houses the announcements in a downloadable format and includes links to other Web sites that list little known facts about the state.
“Companies could download the information to include in an RFP (request for proposal) as part of a presentation,” suggested Looser.

Outside Mississippi, the announcements will be sent to the nation’s top 100 daily newspapers, top consumer Web sites, and top news, travel, business and economic magazines, and also national talk shows and broadcast news outlets with Mississippi ties.

“Private companies could pool their resources to buy space in publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today,” said Looser. “Other state organizations could also follow suit to support the State of Mississippi.”

Moving and shaking

Last month, The Cirlot Agency, established by Liza Cirlot Looser in 1984 as an advertising agency, purchased the Tower Loan building located on Airport Road between Canebrake Boulevard and Flowood City Hall, just a few blocks down the road from its home of six years. After renovating the space and upgrading the facility with the latest technology employees have requested, the agency plans to relocate its staff of 24 there next spring.

“For clients flying in and us flying out, Airport Road has been the best location we could possibly dream of,” said Looser.

BrandDNA?

Even though The Cirlot Agency has been conducting branding sessions for nearly a decade, the Loosers recently opened a division for their trademark service, BrandDNA, or what they call “DNA therapy for business.”

The BrandDNA division began garnering a larger share of the firm’s portfolio after Liza Looser fine-tuned the concept while attending Harvard Business School’s prestigious Owner/President Management (OPM) Program. She completed the three-year executive master’s degree program last spring, picking up numerous international clients through her classmates.

“Our BrandDNA is strategic and creative methodology for bringing management’s vision to life,” explained Looser. “By exposing a company’s potential, we turn management’s vision in to actionable strategy that brings their brand — and the DNA that makes it unique — to life.”

Dan Grafton, president and CEO of L-3 Vertex Aerospace, LLC, said after nearly two years of buyouts, mergers and multiple name changes, the company had literally lost its DNA.

“The Cirlot Agency helped us resurrect our competency themes, redefine who we are and how we will compete in the marketplace,” said Grafton. “The result has been a company recognized in its industry as a leader. A leader with renewed DNA, a leader that can compete and win in the marketplace.”

Adapting to shifting markets

The full-service marketing, public relations and corporate communications firm handles projects ranging from baked beans to battleships, and is known as one of the nation’s top three advertising agencies in the defense industry, with top clients including Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

“About 40% of our portfolio now involves business development,” said Looser. “If somebody hires us, it’s not like the old days where you’d do an ad and everybody commented on how pretty it was. Today, you’re judged by ROI (return on investment), and that drives what companies are willing to spend and do.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

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