Agencies In Strange Places: 15th In A Series

Little Rock, Arkansas is home to Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, one of the largest and most established full-service communications firms in the Mid South.
According to the agency’s blog, Wayne Cranford and Jim Johnson opened the doors to their new agency in 1961. In 1989, Cranford Johnson Robinson merged with Shelby and Wayne Woods’ tourism marketing agency to form CJRW.
Keeping it in all the family, Wayne’s son Jay Cranford, joined the firm last fall as VP and Creative Director. He had been wth TBWA/Chiat/Day in Los Angeles.
“I was raised by an advertising executive and began my career in advertising immediately after graduating from college,” said Cranford. “However, this is the most exciting career opportunity for me both personally and professionally as I begin a new career at CJRW 46 years to the day that my father founded this agency.”
Sadly I don’t see much Chiat/Day in this sample of CJRW’s work:

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Nice work. But crappy name. What are they, a law firm?

  2. Spike:
    Wieden + Kennedy. Goodby & Silverstein. Crispin Porter + Bogusky. TBWA\Chiat\Day. Leo Burnett. Ogilvy & Mather. Fallon. GSD&M. Saatchi & Saatchi. Draftfcb. Etc.
    Seems like the guys in Arkansas used a pretty standard naming tactic.

  3. Since when did “standard” equal “good?” And why, oh why would a creative agency want to be standard?

  4. Not a fan says:

    Looked at their website. Blaaah.
    Another tourism-focused agency that doesn’t make waves. Client gets the lukewarm creative that pleases their gigantic committees. Agency happily cashes checks.

  5. Spike,
    Stop being such a drama queen.
    When has anyone ever chosen to work with or for an agency based on the name? Are you saying the agencies listed in the previous comment are standard (actually, some of them are)? Technically, names can draw people, provided the name is a known “star.”

  6. Speaking of names, name game, what is yours?
    We actually get a lot of leads because people are intrigued by our companies name and check us out. I never said the last name, last name and last name companies do bad work. I just think their names are rather bland. Especially in this case – Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods. What happens when they get two more partners? And where is the ownership for the employees?
    Drama Queen

  7. Well, if they’re like most agencies, they’ll change their mastheads on a regular basis. Take an abomination like Euro RSCG, for example. Or even some of the places in the first comment. Of course you’re oversensitive to the topic—you run a fucking identity company. I’m not supporting what agencies do. Agencies are wildly contradictory in that what they preach to clients about identity and branding, they rarely follow for their own enterprises. I was just pointing out that agencies don’t put much thought into their names, and even take committee approaches to dealing with name changes in mergers.

  8. Well lookie there, we agree.

  9. Creative names can go too far sometimes, IMO. Back in the 90s it was all the rage to have one. Remember Black Rocket? There were others, many others.
    Also, a name on the door says something about putting one’s reputation on the line, for one’s name is on all the work that goes out the door.
    Also, using one’s name negates the long legal process of trademark law. If it’s your name, you own it.

  10. then again, every time i see spike jones, i think it’s spike jonze.

  11. Anonymous Coward says:

    I think their name is probably one of their biggest strengths… and weaknesses.
    On the one hand, they are an established 46 year old company and their name carries the right amount of weight to transmit that idea. They wouldn’t have the same presence if the went with a “creative name” such as David mentioned above.
    On the other hand, they are a 46 year old established company in a region known for its slow change. I imagine in any industry, if you do something a certain way long enough… and it works… you will get caught in a rut and stop pushing toward new ideas.
    I guess all I’m saying is before you look at an agency you should look at its clients first.
    Also remember what proverbs says…
    The “creative” should choose his “clients” carefully for the way of the wicked leads them into a rut.
    …well something like that.