Long before Julius Caeser built the Roman Empire, a glorious civilization in southern Mexico was carving sophisticated hieroglyphs in the stone walls of its great palaces and temples.
Today, Caesar has his name on a casino in Las Vegas and one of those ancient Mayan hieroglyphs is being used to market an advertising agency in West Los Angeles.
La Agencia de Orci's new logo was originally used in pre-Columbian hieroglyphics to symbolize that what followed was going to be really important; translated into English, the symbol would mean, roughly, "Communication which is sacred."
It's purely coincidental that the symbol looks a lot like a Nike swoosh, only backwards.
"An association with Nike is always very pleasant, even though it was not our intention," said La Agencia Co-Chairman Hector Orci, whose agency specializes in Spanish-language advertising.
Orci's new logo is of interest for more than just its heritage. It's an example of something surprisingly rare: an ad agency practicing what it preaches.
Very few agencies bother to come up with their own logos, slogans or brand identities, even though they are paid handsomely to create these things for other companies.
There are, of course, exceptions. But most local agencies seem to think it's enough simply to come up with a stylistic nameplate for their letterheads, and leave it at that.
"Most agencies are terrible at marketing themselves," said Michael Marsak, who runs advertising consultancy Effective Marketing Strategies Inc. in Marina del Rey. "Most of them have an episodic approach to new business programs. They put together a reel and a brochure, send them out once a year, and then when they don't get a response they forget about it."
La Agencia de Orci's new logo will be used on correspondence, materials used in new-business presentations, internal communications, business cards, and so forth.
"It's a good opportunity to remind clients and prospective clients what we stand for," Orci said.
A much bigger local agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Pacific, has taken the concept a step further.
Saatchi's parent, under new Chief Executive Kevin Roberts, is trying to reinvent itself as a shop focused on great creative work. So over the summer, Saatchi & Saatchi Pacific Executive Creative Director Joe McDonagh took the agency's long-time, little-used slogan "Nothing is Impossible" and gave it a makeover.
McDonagh hired artist Gary Baseman to paint a series of works illustrating the "impossible" theme like a pig flying, hell freezing over, money growing on trees and a square peg going through a round hole. The attractive prints have been plastered on thousands of postcards, printed on T-shirts, posted all over the agency's Web site, and postitively hits you over the head when you visit the agency's Torrance office.
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