Local advertising agency Bohan has added three senior staffers to its creative department in the past month, growth an agency executive says reflects buzz about Nashville and clients’ sanguine attitudes to the wobbly economy.
Jon Arnold has come on board as group creative director, moving here from Winston-Salem, N.C. Also coming from Carolina — in this case, Greensboro — is senior copywriter Tom Patten. The third recent addition is Mark Randolph, an art director who decamped from Pittsburgh.
“Nashville is very appealing to the creative community,” said Tom Adkinson, the firm’s vice president and director of communications. “There’s a buzz about town that interests people.”
The additions have grown Bohan’s creative department to 16. The group is led by Creative Director Gregg Boling, a veteran of the industry who joined Bohan earlier this spring from Firecracker Studios. The Gulch-based firm’s total payroll now stands at about 80.
Arnold, Patten and Randolph will help Bohan launch new campaigns for two established clients, the Beaches of South Walton in Northwest Florida and Ebonite, a Kentucky-based maker of bowling gear.
Separately, Bohan also has started to produce material for the rebranding of Stoney River Legendary Steaks, a locally headquartered division of O’Charley’s that runs 10 eateries in six states and is planning two locations in Maryland.
Nationally, advertising and marketing spending rose more than 8 percent to $31.1 billion last year, according to data compiled by industry magazine Advertising Age. Industry watchers expect this year’s growth rate to drop off to half that number or less.
But growth it will be. One reason that number is unlikely to turn negative is what David Paine, president of David Paine + Partners, calls “a greater understanding that marketing is not an optional activity.”
Marketers have long preached this approach, but their purse-holding superiors have often found it hard to finance when times got tough. That dynamic appears to be increasingly changing.
“People understand that they have to put themselves in a position to sell,” said Paine, whose firm works with mental health provider Centerstone and Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, among others.
Adkinson said today’s iffy economy — with the housing crunch and rising gas prices at the fore — hasn’t scared many Bohan clients into hiding. Instead, he said, they are keeping their eye on the bigger goal.
“They’re not rattled, but they’re also not trying something new just because it’s new,” he said. “Their response is coming not to conditions, but to good ideas.”