We Are Arrogant

According to Ad Age, We Are Gigantic, a MDC Partners-backed ad shop born earlier this year out of the now-defunct Margeotes Fertitta Powell, is being sued by Gigantic Marketing, a two-year-old New York-based marketing firm.
I can’t argue the merits of the case (please use our comments area if you can), but I will offer this. When Ad Age calls you up for an interview, don’t say this:

“We don’t really know who this other company is and we don’t see any confusion between what we do and what they do.”

Translation: I’m Neil Powell, fools. I’m someone. My name once graced the masthead of an important agency. And you dare to challenge me?
[DISCLAIMER] I’ve never met Mr. Powell. My reaction here is to his words, as presented by the Gray Lady.
[UPDATE] Danny G. has this to add…

Boy, I’m getting old. Because I remember the last big spat over a cool agency name:

Jackhammer — the growing ad agency spun off from The Richards Group in 1995 — is hoping to spark interest from business execs with a new name: Pyro.
The switch comes after Birmingham, Ala., ad man Chris Goldschmidt notified the Dallas ad shop that his $2.8 million agency had been using the Jackhammer name since 1995. The Dallas shop agreed to drop the moniker after months of discussion.
“Since we are continuing to gain status in the international arena, it didn’t make sense for us to share an identity,” said Todd Tilford, a Pyro principal.

While “We Are Gigantic” and “Gigantic Marketing” are different, cases like this often depend on whether potential clients can legitimately be confused about the two. Whoever lawyers up the most and the best will likely prevail.

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. Saatchi recently spun off a healthcare agency that was called Halo for about 15 minutes until they figured out someone else had the name. Now it’s called Earthworm or Glow Worm or something like that.

  2. These two miniscule agencies fail in every sense of the word Gigantic.
    Powell’s history of self-importance, egomania and pomp has only been out weighed by the consistent and significant account losses under his reign. He seems to have championed the role of loser leader since running Duffy NY into the ground. Powell is a talented, though one dimensional, designer who needs a concept guy to think for him. His legacy of agency failure tallies Duffy, Fallon, Powell, MFP and now WAG. MDC will not give him the opportunity to fail a third time under their backing, so I believe this lawsuit is the end of the line for him.
    Gigantic Marketing Bernard Urban is just the opposite of Powell. He’s successful in a direct marketing type way. Unlike Powell’s Gigantic, Urban’s Gigantic actually does have paying clients and have been featured in AdAge for over two years. They don’t however, seem to have any creative ability. Their website is cheap, tacky, hard to read and lacks significant examples of their ability. Where are the big ideas? Where are the awards? Where is the market increase stats? Urban makes a very good point though about the red logo issue and another thread made an even more important point about the way the industry uses acronyms. A huge issue actually.
    Gigantic Idea Studio who’s URL is the same as Urban’s minus the “s” at the end is another law suit contender here.
    The online ticket agency Gigantic – who actually owns the only true iteration of the URL – may also take issue.
    Overall, I think Urban and Powell should just merge. Powell would again get clients he didn’t earn. Urban would get a creative staff totally full of themselves and they both would be larger. Well almost Gigantic.

  3. Genevieve says:

    For a guy who can only make neat’o designs, Powell is amazingly arrogant. Shockingly so! I just checked out his web site and it says: “…spent the first 10 years of his career at world-renowned agency Fallon. While serving as creative director and managing partner of Fallon NY, Neil also ran the agency’s design unit, Duffy Design, where he was president and executive creative director.” He was not at Fallon for 10 years. He was at Duffy Design. Jamie Barrett made him a CD for a year, more accurately a wrist, before he went to GSP. Neil Powell never did anything but design work there. I agree with the other comments. He made his name off other peoples talent and is now paying the price for lacking the ability to run a creative agency. Didn’t Powell also say in a Ad Age panel that he “hates pitches” and clients shouldn’t make him do so? What an incredible stupid individual. I wish Gigantic-ideas all the best in this lawsuit.

  4. genevieveisacow says:

    I can’t recall a time when the ad blogs have been more personally hateful and vitriolic about someone. what the hell do you people care about this lawsuit and why does it mean you have to bring the knives out and spew a bunch of crap anonymously about someone you don’t even know? Quit sniping from the sidelines and get back to work.

  5. Genevieveknowshim says:

    I’ve alway wondered why so many people wrote so many things about Neil Powell. There is a constant PR about the guy and the comments, sans spin, are “always” negative. He has the worst reputation I have ever heard of. Consistently so. Just awful. I just met his wife and now get it. She is his PR machine. Literally. I now understand why so many people in the industry dislike and distrust them. I would be very wary of their spin.

  6. margeotes says:

    I think when you take over an agency that has been self sufficient for over 30 years and gut it in less than a year, a lot of people are going to be pissed. It probably didn’t help that you were incredibly arrogant as well.

  7. Hi, a friend who commented here told me about this post. I’m not surprised it has turned into a reality check about Neil Powell. He’s a pretty yucky guy. We at Coke will never let him in again. He’s not worth the risk to our brand. Thought that would help clarify things.

  8. Rachael Powell and I spoke on the phone yesterday and she told me how hurtful this comment string is to her and her husband. She also claims much of it is untrue. I don’t know for sure what’s true and what isn’t. But I will add this, the anonymous nature of commenting on blogs drives me insane. I said some tough things above about Neil Powell, but my name is attached to it. The fact that it is means I’m inclined to act responsibly, even while bringing a critical argument to light. Anonymity removes all need for responsibility and that destroys the quality of the discussion.
    Rachael called me a “hack” on another post here and “entirely devoid of talent” on yet another. She apologized for that and said she won’t make the same mistake again. I bring this up because it reveals an important lesson. Namely, that talking at someone and talking with someone are altogether different things. As a comment string, or even an email volley, disintegrates into conjecture and name calling, nothing good can come of it (unless it leads to a real, offline discussion where both parties willingly listen).
    It seems pretty clear to me that typing does not equal talking. Nor does pontificating lead to persuasion.

  9. I hesitate to enter this discussion, but I thought this commentary was too interesting to pass up. I am the multimedia designer for Gigantic Inc. in New York City. We are a small, but busy, print and web design shop and we’ve been around for 9 years – registered legally as Gigantic Inc.

    We don’t know Neil or Rachael or Genevieve or any of you, nor do we care. You all seem to care too much about each other anyway. We are not thrilled that both of these companies have decided to infringe upon our identity. We are giving both of these new companies the benefit of the doubt that they aren’t trying to make a name off of our years of sweat and skill. We are not that arrogant. It may or may not come back to haunt us that we haven’t stood up for ourselves. But while the two of them squabble we will continue to create good work for our clients. I may sound naive and haughty, but wouldn’t it be easier for We Are Gigantic to just change your name? I mean, the brand concept sucks anyway and you haven’t been around that long. “Gigantic” is a great word and clearly a desireable brand. “We Are Gigantic” is pretty lame.

    As for Gigantic Marketing, we are not too concerned. I think our client base is different enough for us to peacefully co-exist. I just wish they would use “Gigantic Marketing” as their brand instead of “gigantic”. The design of their logo is eerily close to what we created in our first iteration 9 years ago. Sadly there are too many “creatives” in this world that aren’t very creative. We are not an ad agency but we do consider our design development talents a marketing and advertising tool for our clients. And we won’t take kindly to anyone trying to elbow us out of our place in this area of our business development.

    We at Gigantic Inc. wish you all the best in your careers. We hope that whatever happens that you remember the most important things – we are all in this to make a few bucks, satisfy our creative motivations, and pass along any wisdom we take from our daily grind to our children.

    Peace out. (BTW -if you check out our website we haven’t updated it in a couple of years. We’ve been too busy working. Heh.)

  10. theitguybehindthescenes says:

    I worked with Neil for years. Never found him any more or less arrogant than any other creative, if you work in Advertising in New York or any other city that should be clear enough. Quite the opposite, I found him friendly, warm and it should also be said, confident and driven. He is also immensely talented. “who can only make neato designs” seems to have some angry backstory which has little bearing other than tarnishing an image. So to be part of management you can’t do the work? I like the guy immensely, haven’t spoken to him since I stopped working at the same company he did. I never heard of Gigantic marketing, the company too busy to update their website. And frankly, when I heard of the name of his company, considering his talent, hard work, and driven goal oriented personality, it made perfect sense to me. Even though this point is moot, I weighed in because unlike the hearsay BS some of these posters spout, I knew the guy professionally, and would buy him a beer any day.

  11. whitegarage says:

    to: theitguybehingthescenes
    a lot of us knew/know him personally and the negative comments reflected exactly that

  12. Dan Ramberg says:

    Neil and Rachael are good people who are good at their jobs and always have been…We all know, at least we should know if we’ve been in the Ad game for any length of time, that it is a fringe industry which is greatly affected by all aspects of our economy and therefore is highly volatile to market conditions and ‘marketing director’ whims for that matter…People change agencies and not always for viable or rational reasons…I suggest getting all the facts before you go smearing people, their companies, 20 years of their collective lives and hard work as well as their leadership skills….There is a reason they both rose to the top of Fallon/Duffy (same company, same roof, much of the same creative teams, at the time they worked there BTW, so how about getting to know what you’re talking about before you poor your poison on peoples lives sunshiney people)….I’de like to extend a hearty Cheers and good luck to all of you who thrive on negativity…Happy days and hope you don’t get fired when the bottom drops out of your industry…again. By the way, I’m sooooo glad I left advertising and no longer work for meglomaniac marketing directors who think their stamp of approval as well as the smell of their farts need to be embraced, accepted, and cherished by all….Get a life, do something worthy of your skill people…Yeah, all of you cut throaters….Always hated that cut-throat aspect of advertising and see that it continues to rear it’s ugliness and permeate the industry…Good luck Neil and Rachael.

  13. Surfrider says:

    I worked at Margeotes Fertitta for years, happily, before the arrogant, self-entitled, and bloatedly egotistical Powell came to darken its doors forever. He brought nothing to the table, didn’t exactly score huge accounts to the agency’s credit, lost accounts, and behaved like a tiny dictatorial toerag with really bad hair. So yes, I’m pissed off.

  14. Surfrider says:

    I worked at Margeotes Fertitta for years, happily, before the arrogant, self-entitled, and bloatedly egotistical Powell came to darken its doors forever. He brought nothing to the table, didn’t exactly score huge accounts to the agency’s credit, lost accounts, and behaved like a tiny dictatorial toerag with really bad hair. So yes, I’m pissed off.

  15. Surfrider says:

    I worked at Margeotes Fertitta for years, happily, before the arrogant, self-entitled, and bloatedly egotistical Powell came to darken its doors forever. He brought nothing to the table, didn’t exactly score huge accounts to the agency’s credit, lost accounts, and behaved like a tiny dictatorial toerag with really bad hair. So yes, I’m pissed off.

  16. thebigmouth says:

    I have never seen so many cry babies in one place. Neil Powell has ruined my life. You have ruined your own lives, by being so naive how business works. Get a life!

  17. ex-powell employee says:

    @thebigmouth – I don’t think people are being cry babies. I worked with Neil Powell and Josh (his partner) for a few years and it was easily the worst working experience of my 12 year career. I’m not going to bad mouth him here, and do the “he said, she said” but I can very easily see why people are so upset. My entire career was displaced by his actions. Luckily I landed on my feet, but not everyone was so fortunate.

  18. not a cow 2 says:

    No one has even scratched the surface of how crappy Mr. Powell is as a human being. Note how most folks who have come into contact with him on a personal level as well as professional have no good things to report of the experience. Except his wife/PR spinster of course…but that’s a whole other sordid tale.