Alan Gee has little time for nostalgia these days. In rebranding GJP Advertising as Blammo Worldwide, the agency’s co-founder and chairman hopes to demonstrate the company’s ability to adapt to an ever-shifting marketplace.
Gee announced his agency’s new name last night at a party following a tongue-in-cheek “closing down liquidation fire sale,” in which office items ranging from fax machines to office chairs were sold or auctioned off to benefit Jake’s House, a charity for autistic children.
Also on the auction block were several award trophies, including Marketing Awards and Cannes Lions.
“As much as I love the awards, that was yesterday,” Gee said. “We’re all about tomorrow. You can’t live in the past.”
Blammo is more than a simple renaming, Gee said. GJP is out of business and in its place is a company markedly different from the one he launched in 1991.
“Facebook, Twitter and YouTube weren’t around, or many of the things that have redefined marketing communications,” Gee said. “Who knew that mobile phones the size of bricks would turn into multimedia devices? It’s with that in mind that the agency is rebranding.”
The new name, he said, is a recognition of the explosive way in which the industry changes. “Many agencies are struggling with that change, but clients are eager for it. We want to take the best of what we had–insightful strategy, fantastic execution and inspired creative–but now look at it in completely unexpected ways. Blammo is about doing the unexpected.”
Blammo is also a blank slate as far as Canadian agency brands go, which Gee hopes will serve as an example of the agency’s branding prowess as it grows over the coming years.
“It will be shaped by the work we do and the success we have. We want it to become as respected a name as Taxi or Zig (now Crispin Porter + Bogusky Canada).”
GJP’s rebranding has been months in the making and was first heralded with the hiring of new chief creative officer Andrew Simon (formerly of DDB Canada) and president Matthew Stern (formerly McCann-Erickson Worldgroup).
When his hiring was announced in September, Stern said “There are three broad themes that will guide [GJP] as we refresh our brand to better service clients: interconnectivity, media ubiquity and immediacy, and the fact that consumers are simply expecting more.”
Rebranding went into full gear last week when Gee starred as a fast-talking discount retailer in a satirical YouTube video. With nearly 7,000 views, it garnered the agency calls from as far away as China, and put many former staffers back in touch with their former boss.
But while the tone of the rebranding has been humokikrous, it has had its serious moments as well.
“Some people are very emotional about it,” Gee said. “Lots of ex-employees have been calling me up. People got married at GJP… It never occurred to me that that’s what [the rebranding] would become. For a lot of people, it’s the end of an era.”
Blammo is starting that new era hard at work on its recently won Arby’s account.