Small ad agency sells funny campaigns


December 03, 1990|By Kim Foltz | Kim Foltz,New York Times News Service

Weiss, Whitten's letterhead says it all: Instead of the typical corporate logo, it has a picture of a bagel and a slice of white bread.

"We have to make an instant impression," said Marty Weiss, the bagel, who along with his white bread partner, Matt Whitten, started the New York agency a little less than two years ago. "We have a sense of humor and we don't want to hide it."

The approach is paying off. The agency recently won several small but high-profile accounts, including the account for the Peninsula Spa, a New York health club. That will increase its annual billings to about $17 million.

In addition, unlike most tiny agencies, Weiss, Whitten has been included in some well-publicized reviews for big accounts like British Knights athletic shoes, though it did not win that one.

Doubters need only look at the videotape the agency uses to promote itself. Most agencies simply send out a compilation of their best work. Not Weiss, Whitten.

It produced a humorous sales pitch featuring the partners' parents, who explain with deadpan earnestness why their sons are brilliant. "One thing we definitely knew we had going for us was two sets of wacky parents," Mr. Whitten said.

Flaunting their slightly off-center sensibilities is also a good way to make sure prospective clients sit up and take notice.

The agency's roster includes clients like MTV clothing and accessories, Dearfoam slippers and special project work for Swatch.

"We decided to work with the agency because everything they do has an intriguing sense of style," said Patricia Shanahan, vice president for Swatch. "They know how to give ads a twist that not only gets the viewers' attention, but sells the product."

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