The phrase “Avon Calling” holds a lofty place in the lexicon of American marketing.
It also played a seminal role in the founding of Pool Inc.(www.pool-nyc.com) – a thriving NYC agency that, when created eleven years ago, helped set the standard for the future of small agencies.
“My wife Jayne and I were both freelancing,” co-founder, Keith Whitmer, explained. “She was working with Avon and they liked what she was doing. Eventually they offered her the account. That night, she turned to me and said, ‘I’m an agency now.’ So we decided to give it a go.”
And so marked the beginning of Pool, Inc.
In an industry filled with mega-conglomerates and homogenization of agency personalities, Jayne and Keith took a different approach. “We’d been in the business a long time. We knew the pitfalls. We knew a lot of talented people, but we didn’t want to carry a high overhead. So we decided instead of having all these people floating around in expensive space, we thought, why don’t we just put special teams together for special projects tailored to peoples’ abilities?”
The emergence of social media played a major role in the shaping of Pool Inc., but Jayne and Keith took a contrarian approach. “The whole world was saying you had to get into digital and social media,” Keith explained, “but many were taking a compartmentalized approach. Big agencies were all starting digital departments. To that, we said, ‘Time out!’”
Whitmer’s belief that digital/social media should be seamlessly integrated into an agency’s repertoire was confirmed when he took a course at Hyper Island, the famous learning center for digital media.
“During our first session, the instructor asked, ‘how many of you work at agencies with digital departments?’” Whitmer recalled. “About three-quarters of the attendees raised their hands. Then, he said, ‘that’s not good, everything should be integrated.’” That confirmed Whitmer’s belief that Pool Inc. was ahead of the curve. They’ve always believed not to think in terms of analog or digital, but, instead, in terms of what would be the most effective mix for the client.
In addition to Avon which Pool Inc. had for four years, the agency has done work for Burt’s Bees – for whom they created the company’s first print/digital campaign – created a branding campaign for Halstead Properites, a large real estate firm in New York City, launched the brand for Alba Botanica -- including their first ecommerce site and setting up their entire “digital ecosystem” as Whitmer refers to it -- and developed several campaigns for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods while rolling out their newly designed identity across all consumer touch points.
Drawing upon Jayne's experience working on Evelyn Lauder's Breast Cancer Research Foundation and heading up the Pro Bono group at Ogilvy + Mather, it’s not surprising that Pool Inc. has forayed into the non-profit sector. “We’ve done work for AMFAR, Breakthrough NY – an organization that helps under-served high school students get into college – and just began a project for the Beit Ruth Foundation, an organization that helps abused girls in Israel,” he said.
Now, eleven years in existence, Pool Inc. has come a long way since Avon first opened the door for them.
When opportunity knocks….