GSD&M Idea City Has The Right Idea

Gregory Solman of Adweek claims that Austin-based GSD&M Idea City is getting some swagger back in its boot step after some tough account losses.
image courtesy of Flickr user, andreanna
Solman also examines the shop’s “Purpose Branding” platform:

For GSD&M, COO Duff Stewart, said, “purpose-based branding” meant helping Southwest Airlines understand that it was “not in the airline business but the freedom business,” offering travelers low-cost liberty; repositioning BMW to stress its independence and brand unity, so ideas could come from anywhere in the company to support the “Ultimate Driving Machine” mantra; or discovering that Popeye’s distinction was bringing Louisiana slow-cooked recipes to a fast-food world.
The agency applied so-called purpose-based branding to itself as well, said chairman Roy Spence, who adopted the idea from Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras’ Built to Last. GSD&M added a Purpose Institute think tank in 2006, and Spence wrote a book about the subject that will be issued next spring.

I’ve read portions of Built to Last. I have to hand it to GSD&M for caring about long term value. Inside of a throw away culture, long term value is an outsider’s position.

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. Jerry Levine says:

    GSD&M has been peddling that pablum for years. It’s just a fancy name for positioning — something virtually every agency does for its clients.
    And it would be better if it were sincere. It fits for some clients, but for others it is highly suspect if not downright made up. Like Krispy Kreme, Fannie Mae and United Health Care, corrupt companies who had “purpose” created for them by GSD&M. That fooled a lot of people, including stockholders who lost thier shirts.