On April Fool’s Day 1989, a three-person design studio opened. And set about blowing the doors off the creative industry. A quarter century later, Greteman Group continues strong. Today, as a full-service marketing communications agency, it serves some of the world’s leading brands.
“We like to think that we haven’t lost our youth, but simply gained perspective,” says Sonia Greteman, founder, president and creative director. “Over the years our phones have gotten smarter, and so have we. We know when to obey the rules – and when to break them.”
Greteman Group’s first years rocketed past with the small-but-mighty team in constant motion. Generating business. Designing almost round the clock. Obsessing over big ideas and small details. Bumps came when two of the original partners left in the early ’90s to pursue different visions. But the core team stayed together and under Sonia Greteman’s leadership, the agency steadily grew, adding both staff and capabilities. It built a reputation for top-flight creative, delivered on time and on budget. Work poured in and frequent travel kept things hopping, serving clients from Miami to Montreal, Kerrville to Frankfurt.
“I’m proud to say I knew you when,” says Chris Pratt, director of market analysis and communications for Dallas Airmotive. “We’ve worked together for 15 years and through that time we’ve built brands that have taken flight. Much like our current brand – Dallas Airmotive – you’re there when we need you. Right from the start.”
Creative That’s Grown Up
Greteman Group pushed boundaries in the mid ’90s by developing and launching one of the region’s first websites. Clients weren’t yet ready to jump into the World Wide Web, so the agency designed a site for itself turnkey, in house. This convince-through-example mentality has stayed with the agency, most recently by leading it to be among the first to offer responsive-design websites. Interactive media now accounts for more than half of the agency’s billings.
“There will never be a box you can’t think outside of,” says Sheree Utash, who leads the National Aviation Consortium and serves as vice president for academic affairs at Wichita Area Technical College.
Gaining Altitude By Providing Attitude
Early on the agency leveraged its Air Capital location, making business aviation a key niche. Creative expanded from aircraft product brochures and direct mail to storytelling that demystified aircraft ownership – and said not only is it all right to own aircraft, it can be integral to success in business and in life. In 1996, the team began producing a magazine for Bombardier, profiling everyone from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League owner Tony George to visionary Cirque du Soleil founder and CEO Guy Laliberté. Not long after Flexjet’s founding in 1995, Greteman Group started helping people get their heads around the concept of jet sharing. Today, the idea of splitting the financial burden of aircraft ownership through fractional shares seems a natural. At the industry’s genesis, not so much.
“We weren’t selling the idea of sharing time, but owning time,” says Sonia Greteman. “One of our most successful campaigns used the line, ‘All things come to those who wait. Except the precious time lost while waiting.’ When the direct mail hit – complete with a working clock – inquiries broke all previous records.”
Older. Wiser. Still Sassy.
Celebrating 25 years of business may seem trivial when leaders such as BBA Aviation have been around for 135 years. But keeping the doors open for a quarter century signifies an arrival of sorts for an ad agency. The industry, always volatile, has gotten more so with services commoditized, margins squeezed and small shops springing up like mushrooms. Two thirds of ad agencies today employ fewer than five people. The industry average for client-agency relationships has dwindled to less than three years.
“We’re incredibly proud of the longevity we have in our team and client relationships,” says Greteman, “and also that we continue to attract strong, young talent and new clients. The longer we’re in business the more we realize we haven’t gone it alone.” Greteman
Group enjoys many client relationships in the double digits. Some date back to the earliest days of the company. It’s not just the creative that keeps them in the agency fold. It’s gold-standard service personified by GiGi. Attired in go-go boots and an Emilio Pucci uniform, GiGi represents a return to the first-class service that defined the very beginnings of the jet set. GiGi believes correct beats sloppy and that details matter. She sets a standard of world-class service delivered in timely, twinkling perfection.
Clients are quick to praise the agency on its milestone anniversary – and for what the agency has done for them. USAIG CEO Dave McKay says, “USAIG has this amazing culture and history, but before Sonia and her team at the Greteman Group, we were doing our best to keep it a well-kept secret. They have helped a successful 86-year-old company thoughtfully communicate relevance and given us a vibrancy we just would not have found on our own. We love them!”
Vice President of Communications Steve Phillips has worked with Greteman Group close to 20 years, longer than any other marketing professional – first in his role at Bombardier Aerospace, then Flexjet and now FlightSafety International. He says, “The Greteman Group team is customer focused, creatively excellent, quality minded, deadline driven, and really great to work with.”
Click to view Greteman Group work through the past quarter century and what clients and friends have had to say: http://vimeo.com/89736458