Monday, July 21, 2008

How Being a Dallas Advertising Agency has Changed in 25 Years

AdWise Group was formed as a Dallas advertising agency in 1985. Since 1985 we've seen a lot of changes in the Dallas advertising market and the advertising agency business. We began life as the Wm. S. Miller Co and have gone through a couple of name changes since then, but many of the people roaming the halls in the 80s are still with us in the 00s.

Who Has the Pencil Sharpener?
Big change number one. Print was big, big, big. There were two major Dallas newspapers in 1984 (remember The Dallas Times Herald?) Computers had only recently been introduced and they certainly weren't part of the advertising agency world. Pencils ruled. And markers. To make a print ad was a real production. Don't believe us? Read on.

How Print Ads Used to be Made
You have an idea, so the art director grabs a pencil or marker and makes a sketch. The copywriter writes some copy. Not much different from today. But then, all graphics have to be created by hand. Remember, no computers. You type the copy using a typewriter. Then you send the rough layout of the ad to a typesetting company (they dispatch a truck for that purpose). You have specified which type you want and the typesetting company grabs physical type and makes the ad to your specifications. One of the larger typesetting companies of the day was called Typographics. The typesetter then sends you back a printed type proof that you cut and paste and assemble on an illustration board.

You compose each element of the ad on a different layer of acetate. Once you have the mechanical art (paste up) done, you send it along with desired photographs to an engraving company. Harper House was big in the engraving business. The engraver creates a composite film that includes the type, the photo, graphics, etc. They send you a single negative for a black and white ad or four negatives for a four-color ad. (More delivery trucks involved here.) They create a proof for you to review with the client.

Changes needed? Go back a couple steps and do it again. Every day, all day there were trucks traveling between Dallas ad agencies, their clients, the typesetters, the engravers and finally the media outlets. Speaking of media outlets, this is the one place where the old process was better than the current process. The media would receive the film and a proof with instructions to print exactly as shown in the proof or we wouldn't pay. Color proofing in the modern day is more hit and miss.

How Print Ads are Made Today
Everyone knows this answer. It's all done on computer.

Changes in Dallas Advertising Costs
In 1984, the DFW area had 2.3 million people. By 2007, that had grown to 4.1 million (source: US Bureau of Census). This has led to a dramatic increase in the cost of advertising on Dallas mass media. In fact, the Dallas area is one of the most expensive markets in the country. More on this in a later post. We recently did a study comparing broadcast television costs over the past five years. Contact us and we'll share the sobering conclusions.

The Internet
TheInternet existed in 1985, but only for a fairly small group of scientists and academicians. It wasn't until the 1990s that the Internet started to be used by every day folks. Now, Google seems to be taking over the world. How has this impacted life as a Dallas advertising agency? It's been a tsunami, an earthquake and a hurricane all rolled into one. It has completely redefined what it means to be a Dallas ad agency. And the changes have only just begun. Again, more on this in a later post.

AdWise Group has been a Dallas advertising agency since 1985. We've experienced the changes described above and many more to be described later. We've survived and thrived by continually changing and adapting to the new ways of doing business. In fact, we love change. We have transformed ourselves from an advertising agency that did mostly print work in the 80s to an agency that spends much of its time in new media. But the one thing that hasn't changed - advertising is ultimately about persuasion. Regardless of the media, regardless of how ads are designed and published, whether it's newspaper, TV, Internet or mobile phones, the ultimate objective is to persuade someone to do something.

At AdWise Group, we're a Dallas advertising agency and we're wise in the art of persuasion.