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What is Going on with Mullen’s Bay Area ‘Talent Hub?’


Having typed Mullen in our email search this week, it’s been flooded with tips that have rung the death knell for the agency’s San Francisco office, which was opened in 2012. At the time, Mullen CCO Mark Wenneker proclaimed to staff that the SF office would serve as a “talent hub” that would be “composed of a small group of creatives and a little DNA from the Boston office” who would work as an extension of the agency’s Beantown hub for clients including JetBlue, Grey Goose and Google. We’ve reached out to the agency a couple of times on the alleged closing of its SF branch, but, unusually, have yet to hear back on the matter (you’re not helping yourselves, folks).

While we look into the situation, it does appear that we were correct in our assumptions that Mullen SF chief digital officer Stephen Goldblatt was no longer with the agency. If you recall, Goldblatt joined Mullen as CDO a year ago after spending five at fellow Bay Area outfit, EVB, where he served as partner/ECD.  Anyhow, if you need a breakdown, here’s just a smattering of tips that we’ve received this week alone from different sources but all ringing the same tone:

-This morning: “Mullen shut down its SF office”

-Yesterday afternoon: “Mullen has shut down the San Francisco office and let go of all but two staffers.”

-Two days ago, 2/24: “Mullen is shuttering the San Francisco office.”


Hey, Stephen Goldblatt, Are You Still at Mullen?

goldblattmullenJust want to find out, man, as we’ve been hearing from the Spy line that you may have parted ways with Mullen, the agency you joined and took on the post of chief digital officer like a year ago. We’re just Curious George-ing because a couple of calls to the agency left us nowhere, and we’re just trying to find if it’s true and all.

Shit, while we keep shoegazing, let us reminisce on a career where you spent five years at Evolution Burea–oh shit–sorry, EVB to us and last served as partner/ECD (who can forget “Mob the Rainbow” for Skittles?). Oh yeah, almost forgot that you spent nearly seven years as GCD/AD at Goodby after toiling as an art director at the likes of BSSP and DDB Dallas. Anyways, bro, just reaching out, give me a holler when you can, you know, and–oh shit, my laces are untied (*cue Slowdive*).

Ah, So This is Who to Blame for ‘Hater Translator’

If you’re a frequent reader of this site (and especially if you’re a regular commenter) you may remember the “Hater Translator” from a few weeks back. Hater Translator would take a spiteful comment and translate it into something nicer. Since most comments on this site are made by hateful pricks, the Hater Translator kept pretty busy. It was kind of funny the first time, less so the second, and it quickly wore out its welcome. Pretty soon, everyone was annoyed and our inboxes were flooded with complaints. Sure, the haters are annoying, but Hater Translator only seemed to make things worse. Now, the folks over at Mullen have come out as the creators of the Hater Translator, with a new site and holiday-themed video (featured above).

The video tells the story of the Hater Translator’s creation by an IT guy at Mullen who looks kind of like Zach Braff. He noticed that all the internet hate was making people sad, “especially when they read nasty comments posted about their work.” The video then shows a bunch of priceless reactions to hateful comments from advertising folk, which is pretty funny. “Don’t they know that advertising is one of the most important jobs in the world?” he asks of the haters. So he decided to “turn the Internet into a friendlier place” with the Hater Translator, but, as well all know, this just redirected the hate back onto the Hater Translator. At any rate, Zach Braff IT guy walks us through how the crazy machine works — it turns the word “fuck” into real fudge, and then shows us the Hater Translator”in action.” In other words, translating comments from this site. They mention their four days translating “hundreds of nasty comments on Agency Spy into expressions of love and joy” and complain of being shut down on the fifth day. Apparently, that makes us Scrooges.

Mullen calls the Hater Translator “a really great way to spread some holiday cheer to a place that really needs it,” but we’re guessing you disagree. Take it away, comments section…



Boston Future 4 Competition Brings Together Creatives, Startups

It’s that time of year again: the annual 4A’s Institute of Advanced Advertising Studies (IAAS) contest is here, meaning up-and-coming creatives will get a chance to put their education to work for some lucky new clients. This year, however, the client will be a startup. And for any Boston-area startup looking for some free and improved publicity, you can enter here. A committee will whittle the entries down to four finalists. The four finalists will then have to create a pitch that tells a unique story about why that startup should be selected. There will be a live event and then an after-party and then booze. And then, voila. Advertising.

The contest, like most similar competitions, gives off some whiffs of free young-people labor, but that might not be all that upsetting or unusual in the startup world. The deadline for initial entries is October 1.

Mullen ECD Rosch to Lead Acura Biz in LA

After spending the last nine months working out of Mullen’s Boston HQ, Peter Rosch is heading to the agency’s L.A. office to serve as executive creative director and lead day-to-day creative efforts on the Acura business. Mullen, of course, won the Acura account as part of the big Honda decision back in March and according to the agency, Rosch played a key role in securing the win. Prior to Mullen, the new Acura ECD spent a year at BBH NY (actually his second tour of duty at the agency), where he perhaps most notably penned the now-beloved “Susan Glenn” spot for Axe.

Along with his two decades in the ad biz, during which time he’s also held senior creative roles at the likes of BMB and Lowe & Partners Worldwide, Rosch is an author whose  My Dead Friend Sarah: A Novel was published last year. Now as an ECD at Mullen L.A., Rosch will lead the creative unit in an office that’s projected to house over 80 staffers by year’s end.

Babcock Replaces Goldblatt at EVB

It looks like Evolution Bureau was well-prepared on this one as the San Francisco-based agency didn’t skip a beat in replacing its longtime partner/executive creative director Stephen Goldblatt, who has now joined up with Mullen as its new chief digital officer. Taking over immediately for Goldblatt is one Steve Babcock (pictured) who’s spent the last six years as CP+B, where he last served as VP/ECD (he was promoted to said role at the end of 2011) and led work on past and present accounts from VW and Best Buy to Domino’s (including the award-winning “Pizza Tracker”) and AmEx OPEN.

In a statement regarding the incoming ECD, EVB president/co-founder Daniel Stein says, “We could not be more excited about having Steve join the EVB family as our new creative chief.  It took me about 3 seconds after meeting him to recognize that this was the guy to lead EVB’s creative vision. He understands the relationship between digital innovation and traditional fundamentals better than anyone I have met. He also fits into our start-up culture perfectly, which is hugely important to us.”

Along with heading up creative at Omnicom-owned EVB, which counts clients including Juicy Fruit (who can forget this?), Skittles, Facebook, the NFL and Jameson, Babcock will be tasked with opening a creative office in familiar territory: Boulder, where he will remain in his new role. Prior to CP+B, Babcock served as a creative director at the likes of W Communications and StruckAxiom.

Well, Mullen NC Did Win the Pep Boys Biz After All

Once again, it took some time after initial inquiry, but the folks at Mullen have confirmed that the agency’s Winston-Salem, NC office has indeed been awarded lead agency duties for car care chain, Pep Boys. No official word yet on who else was involved, but sources told us as of early December that Houston’s FKM was also a “frontrunner” in the pitch. If you recall, Pep Boys previously worked with Zimmerman, but parted ways with the South Florida-based agency after four-plus years of partnership just a few months ago.

In a statement regarding Pep Boys’ decision, the brand’s CMO, Ron Stoupa, says, “Mullen’s consumer insights and understanding of our brand and business model led to the most compelling creative solutions. They understood our customer service culture and contributed fresh ideas to help us achieve our future growth goals. They will be a great marketing partner.”

The self-proclaimed “hyperbundled,” “unbound” agency is expected to debut new work for the brand in the first half of this year.

We Hear: Mullen Makes Cuts in NC?

It’s been like pulling teeth trying to get some official word on the matter, but over the last few days, we’ve heard from a handful of sources that Mullen cut approximately 20-25 staffers in its Winston-Salem, NC office. This, despite the fact that the agency did pick up some Lenovo business a few weeks ago. We’ve been told that the cuts happened last Tuesday and ran across departments. We’re continuing to check in on the matter and will keep you posted.

Mullen ‘Work’ Page Likely to Induce Headaches/Seizures (Updated)

Holy cat .gif overload! Not sure what’s the story with the current look of Mullen’s work section on its site, but it’s surely not a sight for sore eyes, we reckon. Since the Mullen camp actually just sent us the link to the Work page unsolicited (adding the note, “It’s all screwed-up”), we’re assuming there’s something behind this feline frenzy, though we’re getting an even worse headache just thinking about. If you’re really that keen on checking out Mullen work today, we suggest just clicking the “Sort By: Client” link to see the normal work images or just squinting and clicking through wherever.

Update: Well, as we thought, it looks like there was a method to Mullen’s madness after all. According to agency creative technologist Schuyler Hunt (aka “The Riddlist”), “We were tooling around with the website and jokingly put some cats up. We sent it to CCO Mark Wenneker as a joke, and wondered if we’d get in trouble, but instead of telling us to cut it out, he just told us to make them conceptual gifs. And make the content match the client.”

Mullen’s NC Office Nabs Piece of Lenovo Biz

After a review that we’ve been told lasted approximately 6-8 weeks, Lenovo has tapped Mullen’s Winston-Salem, NC branch to handle its North American e-commerce practice, which includes responsibilities such as digital media strategy, planning and buying  as well as handling demand generation and display advertising programs. Prior to Mullen NC, this specific piece of digital business was handled by Neo@Ogilvy, which is still responsible for digital brand campaign work for the PC/tech giant.

In your usual self-congratulatory statement, Mullen NC president John Fitzgerald says, “The Lenovo win is another recognition of Mullen’s digital transformation and interactive marketing expertise. Our MediaHub operation stood out among some of the nation’s top digital-only shops to win this work to develop Lenovo’s digital footprint through interactive media, and ignite their digital transformation.”