Marketing firm: What recession?
Global Advertising, now focusing on federal deals, moves to National Harbor
A Lanham advertising agency has simply chosen not to participate in the recession, say its owners, who look forward to moving the growing company to National Harbor this month.
Global Advertising 1st, soon to be renamed GA1, has operated in Lanham for almost five years, producing annual revenues of about $5 million, about double its revenues from three years ago, said Jacquannette Lewis, who co-owns the business with husband, Derrick Hollie.
Much of the increase stems from the company's shift in focus from commercial to government advertising, she said.
"We're paying attention to what's coming down the pipeline. It allows us to create a little oasis. You can't just slow down in these times — you have to hunker down and work," Lewis said.
Lewis said she hopes the company's move, which will more than double its office space from 2,200 to 4,800 square feet, helps attract new clients, as GA1 will have a higher profile at the Oxon Hill waterfront resort than in Lanham. The company plans to add five employees to its current eight.
National Harbor officials see the move as a way to connect their development to the business community.
"GA1 is a dynamic, growing marketing company that will greatly enhance National Harbor's business community. We're eager to help them host their clients and that they collectively take advantage of all National Harbor has to offer," said Rocell Viniard, spokeswoman for National Harbor, in an e-mail. "We are seeing more and more interest in our office offerings every day. Recent announcements like Disney's land purchase and the move of the National Children's Museum are turning people's heads."
GA1 has received its largest contract to date, with the U.S. Census Bureau, for which it will recruit surveyors for the 2010 census. Lewis said the bureau's location in Suitland makes the deal an ideal match.
The company also recently contracted with the State Department to promote its new passport card, which is used mostly when crossing into Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. GA1 had the advantage of already employing two Spanish speakers to help in the campaign. Lewis emphasized that an ethnically and racially diverse staff is key to the Census contract, as people respond more favorably to surveyors who look like them.
She said both contracts fit GA1's goal of becoming a full-service, multicultural agency for the Greater Washington metropolitan area.
"At this point, we now have the groundwork laid to take us to the next level," she said.
Lewis' expertise also led to her selection by Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Dist. 4) of Fort Washington to participate in a recent business panel on federal contracting.
"The area of government is growing, and with that comes opportunities for ad agencies," said C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research in Columbus, Ohio. "We're not surprised to see companies finding success with government work in Maryland. To their credit, they're being nimble."
Smith added that while many ad agencies have struggled, many are "coming out of the doldrums." A recent survey by Ad-ology shows 47 percent of 1,200 participating consumers view their favorite store as committed to business if it advertises in a down economy, as opposed to 50 percent who view non-advertising stores as struggling. About 70 percent said advertising works best when it informs the public of something useful.
Renee Cottrell-Brown, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Johnson Products Co. in Dallas, said GA1's advertising is more than just useful and features a creative style that tracks and reaches audiences throughout different media. Cottrell-Brown also worked for GA1's first client, Pro-Line International. She is working with GA1 on a national model search in January, which will determine the new face for Johnson's product line.
"They have innovative and flawless execution," Cottrell-Brown said, adding that the company is excited to partner with GA1 again. "They're very focused on delivery for their clients."
Lewis said GA1 would prefer to balance its commercial and government contracts again when the market improves, but she said now is still a good time to build if a company has the mentality to sustain its position.
"We're pushing through this storm," she said.