INSIDE HAWAII INC.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jack Bates, new client services consultant for Harris Agency, posed earlier this month inside the firm’s offices in Waikiki.
‘We’ll make you famous’
Ex-Starr Seigle chairman excited to be back in advertising business
Question: What will your title (at the Harris Agency) be?
Answer: I don't have a title. I don't want one. I came down here to help. (The Harris Agency) is growing -- quite rapidly, as you probably know. They're in the process of hiring new personnel, and I've got a little experience.
I did not want to manage an ad agency again. Been there, done that.
I was impressed with Doug (Harris, the agency's owner). I'd never met him before. I like his energy, and he's got a lot of bright young people here. He sets the tone, which is as it should be -- and it's very fast-moving.
Q: What will your job entail?
A: My job's going to be in account service, to try to help grow the department, as well as the talent in the department ... I'll be actively involved in account management.
Q: What does account management mean?
A: Account management is simply managing the relationship with your client and directing the work that you're going to do for them.
Account service involves day-to-day interface with the client, so it's where all the projects begin. And that group is going to be responsible for seeing them through. They don't create the commercials, but they direct the group who does. They direct the group which buys the media. They're kind of the hub in the wheel. All the other parts think they're in charge. (Laughs) But that's what it is.
Q: Why the Harris Agency and not a larger agency?
A: (Doug) called me -- and through a mutual friend (who had recommended) "You ought to call him." Doug's a very integral part of this agency. I'm not trying to step in his way. I think we're very different; I think maybe, complementary. He's been taking responsibility for everything, and I'll be helping to make sure he's not spread so thin.
Q: Doug is a creative, big-idea guy, but so are you.
A: We both have some background in that area, ... but I think the extent of my advertising career is probably right here. What I like here is, I see a bunch of young people, a team that's motivated and excited, and I think I can help them develop, as well as help with some client relationships.
I like getting in on the strategic side and working with people, really cool young people I think I can help and I think can help me.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Advertising veteran Jack Bates says he was motivated to join the Harris Agency because he was impressed by its owner, Doug Harris, as well as its creative director, John Donch.
Who is the creative director at the agency?
A: John Donch. He's got international credentials. I don't think there's a creative -- there may never have been a creative director in Hawaii -- with his resume. He's an incredible guy. Meeting him had a lot to do with my decision to come here.
Q: What does the job have you doing at the moment?
A: I've got specific accounts right now that I'm building teams around, but I don't want to get into a competition with my old partners.
Q: What did you think about the acquisition of your former agency, Starr Seigle, by sister companies McNeil Wilson Communications Inc. and Laird Christianson Advertising Inc.?
A: I kind of had an inkling it was coming. I think as an agency that held its position as the largest in the market for much longer than any other agency, you get to the peak and there's nowhere to go but down.
The challenge for us -- that was the reason for expansion -- was using that to open up opportunities for new business.
Then we had the bankruptcy (of Hawaiian Airlines) and (the sale of) Cheap Tickets Inc.
We had acquired that (Cheap Tickets) account; it was sizable, a $10 million piece of business. ... When it was sold, we were gone.
That was the first blow. Then came the Hawaiian Airlines bankruptcy (in which Starr Seigle, the airline's advertising agency, also was a creditor). We got ourselves into that deal, but at the same time, would I do it again? Yeah.
Q: It was 1997 when your son sang in a youth choir for Michael Jackson's concert and you also joined the chorus. What is (your son) doing now?
A: He's a senior in college at Colorado State. He may be a senior forever ... He should have graduated at the end of three years, but this is his fourth major, and with those major shifts ... (voice trails off).
Q: What is he majoring in?
A: Psychology. I think he wants to understand his father. (Laughs).
Inside Hawaii Inc.
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