There are relatively few companies in California-and even fewer advertising agencies-that have roots as deep as Ripley-Woodbury. In 1946, Theo. M. Martin started an art production service in Los Angeles. The company created an amazing amount of collateral materials-brochures, catalogs and flyers-for a wide range of industrial and consumer clients including such household names as Sunkist.
He was later joined by John Ripley, a man who added an amazing depth of knowledge in printing and art production. Together they turned the company's direction towards the fine craft of advertising.
Eventually, John Ripley took over the business and began specializing in business-to -business advertising. The company was known as John A. Ripley Advertising.
In 1964, the agency added a new copywriter, Mick Woodbury. A writer by training, he had an aptitude for marketing problem-solving which was advantageous in dealing with clients. He worked through the ranks to become vice president and in 1978, bought the agency. Two years later he moved the operations out of the congestion of Los Angeles to a business park in Cerritos at the 91 and 605 Freeway interchange.
Within days of the move, an unknown Japanese company contacted the agency. With fewer than a dozen people on staff, it had no sales force, no distribution, and no name recognition. What it did have was a warehouse full of obsolete products, big goals and very promising creative recommendations by Ripley-Woodbury.
The company was Epson America, makers of printers for computers.
Ripley-Woodbury produced ads, brochures, POP, billboards, presentations, trade shows, newspaper ads, co-op-any and every thing needed to help propel a company to half a billion dollars in short order. One task was Epson's first television commercial (also our first). But the results were far from a beginner's effort-we ended up at the Clio finals in New York. In just five years, Epson grew from a start-up company to $500Ğmillion in sales.
Most agencies boast of success. But where one mega-success might indicate luck-more than one indicates something else.
Callaway Golf is another favorite story at Ripley-Woodbury. In 1990, we were hired by Ely Callaway to help launch a new product, the Big Bertha driver. It was a product that changed the golf industry forever and Callaway from about $8-million in sales to over $400-million in under five years.
Television played a big part of Callaway's growth. Ripley-Woodbury created the first animated spot in golf and created Sir Isaac Newton as the spokes cartoon. Sir Isaac quickly became the golf industry's best recognized symbol.
Obviously the stories go on and on. But there are certain similarities in these two stories.
In both cases we worked very closely with each company.
Performance was measured by trackable means. If results were achieved, the budgets increased towards a higher level of achievement. Very simple.
If you're good at what you do, the market segment in which you do it is immaterial. Ripley-Woodbury had never worked in the golf market. But the results were outstanding. The same can be said with printers which was a brand new category. Experience in a marketplace doesn't necessarily make you communicate better. Knowing how to identify and solve a marketing problem does.
An agency does its best work when it gets involved. We were told the problems and the objectives. We were expected to be problem-solvers. We prefer to draw from our vast experience in many markets to solve problems than to be given an assignment and told to execute that solution.
And finally, "Achievement is Addictive". Mediocre results just aren't as much fun. So far, our clients agree.