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"We can do it here in Indiana." (advertising services)

Get your advertising--and production--done close to home.

Ad agencies in Indiana may call out of state for production work. Out-of-state agencies may dial up Hoosier firms for their jobs. What's the deal? Certainly Indiana offers top-quality advertising creative and production services. Why do companies jump the border? How big is the problem? Are there ways to keep the business from leaving?

Nobody really totals the dollar drain, but Mike Ruggiero, part owner of Perennial Pictures Film Corp., an animation studio in Indianapolis, thinks it has been up to 20 percent. Others believe it is bigger. Thom Villing, owner of Villing & Co. in Mishawaka, calls the problem "serious" and says, "Among the larger agencies and larger clients it is fairly significant." Jim Crahan, executive vice president of Pearson, Crahan & Fletcher in Indianapolis, says the exodus is "huge."

One major question is motivation: Why do companies jump the border to have their work done? Some reasons seem teetery while others look justifiable. Barry LaBov of LaBov & Beyond, a Fort Wayne jingle house grown to a full-service agency with an Indianapolis office as well, thinks, "People leave because they feel they can get something fresher or something that is higher quality."

LaBov also cites more pragmatic explanations. "Let's say there is a certain talent they want to use, an actor or actress who is unavailable to travel. They have to go to the star. Another reason might be that there is a certain piece of equipment for sound or video needed that is not physically present in Indiana. This is very rare. Another possibility is a need for a location such as the ocean or mountains. We can't pull them into Indiana." And you can't find a sunny, green golf course in Indiana during February. If that is the setting you demand in the bleak of winter, you have to shoot in Florida, the Bahamas or Arizona.

Richard Bonsib, head of the long-established advertising firm in Fort Wayne that carries his name, can also justify out-of-state hiring by Indiana companies. "Agencies in Indiana might not have what's necessary for a company's objectives and goals. Indiana is not the center of advertising, we all know that. We have some fine agencies and good people, but I understand why some large corporations who require specialties might go to an out-of-state agency. It would be a perfectly logical move for them and we can't argue with it," he says.

"They may need an agency that has active research capabilities or a large library-science facility for information," he adds. "I know the argument that computers and databases are on-line, so we've all got everything we need today, but that's really not true. There are some people who have reason to go outside."

Still, Ruggiero questions some corporations' attitudes. "You almost get the feeling that someone is thinking: 'Well, if it's local, it can't be good.' A lot of decision makers don't even include local suppliers. A lot of clients feel that way about the agencies and a lot of agencies feel that way about the vendors."

Villing says it happens "because a Michigan Avenue or a Madison Avenue agency has a reputation that has been difficult for Indiana agencies to duplicate."

Chuck Duke, co-owner of Caboose Production in Indianapolis, with 70 percent of his clientele in the state, says, "I think sometimes there is a budget-dependent reason. If there is a large budget, there is sometimes a feeling of 'Let's go somewhere we have never been before.' It's kind of a 'Star Trek' idea, 'Let's go where no man has ever gone before and spend this money because it has gotta be better out there somehow.' They're trying to find that unique and different something," he says.

"I don't feel companies think work should go out of the state," LaBov says. "It is the agencies who feel they have to or want to go. I think clients want to get the best quality at a good price. Agencies may tell them the best quality is somewhere else. In the 12 years we've been in business, no customer has ever asked us to go out of state. I don't think clients think we should."

Indeed, why should Indiana companies and agencies look across the border when so many companies shop here for services? Brad Unroe, president of the Communico agency in Indianapolis, says, "I've been in advertising in this city for 13 years with my own agency and with Fairfax/McCaffrey & McCall. During that time a considerable portion of my business was comprised of out-of-state clients. We found that manufacturers here apparently think no one locally is good enough to service their accounts. Yet, we won the Epson America Computer account in Torrance, Calif. They thought we were good enough to do their business but we weren't up to snuff in Indianapolis."

Kim Sanders, principal in the television-production company of Sanders & Co. in Indianapolis, agrees that the talent to be found here is top-notch, even if some locals aren't aware of that fact. "Gosh, yes, we can do as good production as they do in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. We have clients come to us from New York and L.A. regularly. Year after year they come back. We work for all the major networks, for CBS Sports and Don Ohlmeyer Sports in Los Angeles. We do a lot of corporate and sales work," she says.

"The motivation for bringing work here is quality and service and in some cases, price. Because of scheduling and the amount of equipment and expertise we offer as part of our package, cost is often less. They would pay extra in an a la carte situation on the coasts. We offer more of a complete package."

David Young, president of Indianapolis-based Young & Laramore and winner of 34 Addy awards and 31 Citations of Excellence for work done just last year, says, "We don't produce much out of state. There is no reason to leave Indiana for most things. With us it is a budget consideration. Part of what we have to sell is a good price. The other markets are very inflated for production costs. Our budgets won't stand what it takes to do an ad in the big markets. It is automatic for us to look here. I think if you do a real good job of writing ads and have good art direction, Indiana has the kind of talent that can solve most of the problems. And it's much cheaper. There is no reason to go out of Indiana to do radio spots. None at all. We do a great deal of our photography with local people. A thing that is strongest in Indiana is illustration. We have some world-class people who are full-time illustrators--David Lesh, Rob Day and Andrea Eberback."

How can local production companies battle the border-crossing mentality? Crahan recommends stronger promotion. "Agencies and production people could sell themselves a little bit harder. We can't take for granted that clients understand and believe the depth of talent that we have here."

Villing adds, "It probably comes down to the production companies doing a better job of marketing their services to the in-state agencies. Also, the agencies should be more open-minded about using those facilities. If somebody does not have a major national client on their reel or in their book that doesn't mean they don't have the capability."

"I think we should take care of our own," says Julie Olthoff, president of Accent on Advertising in Merrillville. "If companies can get the same product just as good in Indiana, why go to Chicago or New York?"

"And I think price is an issue," she adds. "People may think, 'If I pay more, I'll get a better product.' But you pay more because they have more overhead and there is travel cost and time. If you deal right here in Indiana, you don't pay as much and you get the same quality. Agencies should concentrate on telling people over and over, 'We can do it here in Indiana.'"
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Author:Johnson, J. Douglas
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Words:1341
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