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CCF: 40 Years of Independence

What’s so great about independence?

This month, CCF celebrates 40 years of being an independently-owned ad agency.

It may sound a little self-serving, but it got us thinking about the concept of independence in this day and age–particularly when it comes to this business.

With a handful of holding companies gobbling up just about every formerly-independent ad firm in the country, “the independent agency” has become somewhat of an endangered species. The question is, should we care?

An IPG or a Publicis will tell you it’s only a positive thing. That agencies are allowed to retain their independent spirit, but now have the financial backing and stability of a larger entity. But just having to include the word “allowed” in that sentence flies in the face of what it truly means to be independent.

In our experience, staying independent has given us the ability to stay true to what’s important–no matter the landscape. It gives us the freedom to be ourselves. To stay curious just for curiosity’s sake. To chase the best ideas for our clients, rather than be held back by red tape or any factors other than solving the problem at hand. We can take risks on new technologies, new media approaches, new start-up businesses, new roles and new people that may not fit a classic mold when it comes to job title.

Most importantly, we’re in charge of our own future.

Now in our second generation of ownership, we pursue clients that we truly believe in (and who truly believe in us) regardless of the budget. From encouraging people to take public transportation to helping people quit smoking to playing a role in getting Minnesota’s health insurance enrollment coverage to an all-time high, we have the freedom to really hone in on the consumer and drive changes in human behavior that we believe are for the better.

For clients, the benefits of an independent agency take shape in many forms.

  • Less bureaucracy means the ability for faster action and evolution.
  • When you don’t answer to anything but the business problem, it’s easier to forge a new path that’s never been taken before.
  • You shouldn’t have to pay for deep layers of unnecessary job titles. Every single person employed here is essential to your business. Mark Twain put it nicely: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
  • We don’t have to appease a holding company, we don’t have to appease shareholders, we don’t have to appease board members. We’re just focused on the best way to solve client problems.
  • The YWCA. Boy Scouts of America. Ann Bancroft Foundation. These are the names of just a few of the organizations that we donate time to in order to further good causes. We do so because we believe in them.
  • We’re not working towards a sale or a merger. We do what’s right for our clients and employees first and foremost, because that’s all there is.

True independent thought is a weapon where the real power is hard to put into words. It gave us the power to launch the nation’s first user-generated content campaign for Minnesota tourism, because we decided it was right. It’s the power to make a snowball vending machine for charity, because why not? It’s the power to launch your own sustainable yoga brand. These are just a couple examples from fellow independent agencies that showcase creative problem-solving around every corner. And that’s company we’re proud to keep.

As long as there’s capitalism, there will always be companies that buy other companies. And that’s fine. But for us, our independence is who we are–for the next 40 years and beyond. (Look out, 2059.)


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