In an ongoing discussion, Steve Barker and Brooks Christol of Barker & Christol casually talk about their precocious but mature advertising agency. Both partners – Steve Barker is Creative Director, Brooks Christol is Chief Strategist and Utility Player – answered my questions, and they’ll answer yours, too. Just tag them #B&C_Q&A.
SO WHAT BROUGHT YOU GUYS TOGETHER?
BARKER: Divine intervention.
CHRISTOL: Actually, it was something a bit more…ummm…down-to-earth. We originally met at a networking event eight years ago and we’ve had Barker & Christol for seven of those years.
BARKER: It’s been the best seven years of our respective careers and immensely exciting. Honestly, we weren’t prepared for such rapid growth, but we love the challenge of working with new clients: formulating a strategic marketing plan and executing creative that’s compelling and effective. There, how’s that for a 30-second spot?
YOUR CORPORATE SLOGAN IS “STRATEGY IMAGINED.” CARE TO EXPLAIN?
CHRISTOL: Well, since the beginning, we’ve believed that good strategy has to be creative and good creative has to be strategic.
BARKER: Gotta have both sides or it’s a waste. We’re very serious about this. It is, in fact, the foundation of our approach.
DOESN’T IT ALSO HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE TWO BRAIN HEMISPHERES?
BARKER: That’s true. I’m the slightly more creative one, so I’m the right-brainer and…
CHRISTOL: …except for the half hour after lunch, then he’s the no-brainer.
BARKER: …and he’s the slightly more analytical one, so he’s the left-brainer.
CHRISTOL: We find that the “whole” is greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, this philosophy creates an amazing amount of synergy which benefits our clients. Using both the right and left hemispheres allows us to create a complete picture of a campaign.
BARKER: If we get in front of the customer in a clever way, but we can’t cause an action, we’ve wasted the client’s opportunity and the consumer’s time. But if the message doesn’t even get their attention, we’ve done a lot of work for nothing. Thinking about marketing is what makes what we do so effective, and that takes brains – both of ours and both of our hemispheres.
IF YOU COULD BE AN ANIMAL, WHICH WOULD IT BE?
JUST KIDDING, REAL QUESTION IS: WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT WORD AT B&C?
BARKER: Clearly teamwork.
CHRISTOL: Ditto, and not just the usual kind of teamwork, the kind that bridges time, experience, and, yes, even brain hemispheres.
WHAT’S THE BEST AD EVER DONE HERE AT B&C?
CHRISTOL: Tough choice, but I’d have to say it was the entire MTEMC “Membership” Campaign. Because it was most certainly strategic…and very creative, too. Plus, it’s an entirely integrated creative approach across all channels, TV, radio, print, social, video, PR, right down to billing stuffers.
BARKER: Best ad we’ve ever done is the one we just finished which…
CHRISTOL: Woooooo, extra points for a trick answer.
BARKER: …which means we always do our best, so we always expect the next piece of work to be better.
CHRISTOL: My dad was a great inspiration in my life. He always said, “Son, it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you look playing the game that’s important.” Now, what that has to do with anything is irrelevant. But I can say, we make our clients look good, and that makes us look good, too.