Looking Past The Labels In Fast Horse’s Partnership With Newcastle

June 13, 2013

Newcastle No BollocksThis was a pretty exciting week for Fast Horse, as many of you already know.

The news that we were named PR Agency of Record for Heineken’s Newcastle brand broke on AdAge and was picked up locally as well.

Heady stuff, pun intended, for a little shop in Minneapolis. We’re obviously delighted at the coverage of this win, but thought it might be useful to offer a little more context around what it means to us to nab this prize.

So, in no particular order, here are some additional thoughts rattling ‘round my brain after this big win:

Size Doesn’t Matter — Winning Newcastle validated for us yet again that small agencies can compete with anyone when it comes to creativity. I’m not saying large agencies can’t be creative. They absolutely can. But I know that small firms do not take a back seat in their ability to conceive of and present great creative thinking. The truth is, big firms have a way of leveling the playing field for us little guys. They gather a handful of people around a challenge, and so do we. The difference is our handful of people is everything and everyone we’ve got. And truth be told, I’ll take my little crew over theirs any day.

It’s Not About Labels — Clients are increasingly looking for partners who can think holistically and don’t limit their ideas to a marketing “silo.” Our independence has accelerated our ability to adapt and even lead in that context. Yes, Heineken named us PR Agency of Record, but it was clear from the outset of the pitch process that they were not looking for a PR firm. They were hunting for big thinking and a partner who could ignite a spark and fan the flames in the marketplace. Make no mistake, we’ll put our PR chops up against anyone’s. But this wasn’t about PR. This was about selling beer, discipline be damned. This win offers further proof that the ability to be nimble and bring broad thinking has great advantages as more and more marketers adopt this forward-thinking, holistic mindset.

Big Leap of Faith — For the client, there is a lot riding on the choice they’re making. Despite a thorough vetting during the pitch process, selecting a new agency partner is still a leap of faith for them. It’s the agency’s job to deliver what it says it will deliver. You’d be surprised to learn how often that doesn’t happen. There are a variety of factors for that, and often it’s because the senior people who impressed the client during the pitch move on to the next project and leave more junior people to do the actual work. It’s an epidemic in this business, and no doubt clients can’t help but wonder if that will happen with their new agency partner. Our leap of faith when we decide to pursue the business? That the client truly is looking for a partner and not a vendor, and that they are willing to invest the time and resources to make the new partnership work both short and long term.

I Work With the Best — I really do. Watching “Mad Men” or “The Pitch” doesn’t begin to offer those outside our industry a sense of what it takes to carry the day in the competitive agency world. There are a lot of brilliant shops out there. We just competed against two of them. There’s so much that goes into the pitch process, both on the agency and client side, and it’s some of the most intense work we do. That’s why we’re highly selective about what we pursue. We’ll participate in competitive pitch opportunities only when we’re passionate about the brand and the work, and we believe without a doubt that we are the best agency in the country to do it. And then we go all in. Time and again I’ve watched the Fast Horse crew rally around these sort of opportunities. It’s intense, stressful, exciting and intellectually stimulating. It requires everyone’s very best effort. And we’ve never had to crack the whip around here to get it. I work with some of the finest professionals in our business. Win, lose or draw, I’m blessed to call them my colleagues.

So, we’re raising one more cold Newcastle Brown Ale to the birth of an exciting partnership with our new friends at Heineken USA. We know what they are entrusting us with, and we know we are up to the task. And that’s No Bollocks.