By Egotist / /
They’ve done work for big names like Google. They’ve had massive industry acclaim for their Slavery Footprint campaign. They even have the Golden State Warriors, who made the playoffs for just the 2nd time in 19 years, as a client – coincidence? Maybe. But in just a short time, MUH•TAY•ZIK | HOF•FER have made quite a name for themselves. So we decided to talk to the two founders – John Matejczyk and Matt Hofherr. Here’s what they told us.
What made you guys want to start an ad agency?
JOHN: It’s always been a dream of mine.
As a creative, I love making things. As a company owner, we’re making a thing that makes things. Strikingly similar to making a campaign, we’re making an agency. And all those decisions and risks and casting and locations and partners and edits add up to your creation.
MATT: For me, it’s a genuine desire to create something that’s better than what’s out there right now. Put another way, to create the agency we all wished we worked at. Fun, respected, world-class, in demand, highly creative, smart.
What did you learn the hard way when starting MTZHF?
It’s harder than it looks. And I thought it was going to be hard. If it were easy there would be an ad agency on every corner. Oh, wait…
How have you built your culture – organically or was there a plan?
Pretty organic. When someone joins us, they have an opportunity to make this place partly them.
To the extent we had a plan, we look for people who are able to combine: smart and offbeat; buttoned-up and freewheeling; confidence and humility; business and art.
Running your own agency is like __________________.
A massive yin of euphoria and a massive yang of anxiety.
With so many talented shops here, why is SF a great place to be for agencies?
The importance of the entrepreneurial client community cannot be over-rated. It’s not just that tech and social and gaming are hot right now. It’s that these are all coming out of a spirit of innovation, which, in turn, leads to more innovative thinking in their approaches to marketing.
This of course leads the more traditionally minded marketers to respond in kind, fortunately.
San Francisco, including the peninsula, is arguably the most innovative spot on planet Earth at the moment. It’s a great place to help these brands define themselves.
Although I must admit I get jealous of the sheer volume of work flowing through New York.
What recent idea are you jealous of?
Funny, contrary to my last answer, I go to decidedly old school brands working to revive themselves. Old Spice (“Muscle Music” on Vimeo blew my mind). Ragu’s “Long Day of Childhood.” Prudential’s “Day One” felt like the first breath of reality in the category in forever.
What do each of you see as the most important ingredient in producing great work?
We believe strategy and creative are inseparable. Often you see these treated as separate disciplines and handled sequentially. As Matt often says, “If you’re a great creative, you’ll always be the best planner in the room.”
Then as you head into production, it’s a matter of making about three-hundred nano-decisions a day, each one of which is an opportunity to be constantly improving the product –– with strategy, creativity, and taste.
Ultimately what we’re selling is taste. And that’s hard to come by.
What’s the best career advice anyone ever gave you?
I’ll give you a moment that was defining.
When we were very young creatives in Chicago, my friend Dan Weeks and I were sitting around grousing about the more illustrious careers that others were having. A very talented writer, Rebecca Rush, was consoling us, telling us that we were talking about the top one percent of creatives. In perfect tandem, Dan and I both erupted, “Yeah, but if anyone is, why not us?”
So yeah, why not us?
John, give us 3 tips every creative could benefit from.
Look at work that was a near-miss. Ask yourself why it missed. Don’t do that.
Every opportunity is an opportunity. The best work rarely comes from the best assignment. My career turning point was for a strip-mall tax preparation company.
Pretend the best creatives in the world, by name, are sitting down the hall, doing the work they do. It’s too easy to think they have a totally different set of circumstances.
Matt, give us 3 tips every account person could benefit from.
Love your clients and love your life. They are the reason you have your salary. Live and love their business.
Squeeze every last drop of information (including what success looks like) from your clients. You’ll need it to be successful. And get real good at taking all that information you’ve gathered and condensing it down in a compelling and concise way.
Start every meeting with clear expectations and end every meeting with clear next steps.