What makes us us?
Object 9 was founded in 2000 by Andy Gutowski, Branden Lisi and Jon Cato. We’re known for our ability to align strategic creative with a measurable set of business objectives blah, blah, blah, blah…
And here we have the dreaded agency “About Us” section. This is where we’re supposed to say something spectacular about ourselves. You know, how we’re “better” than all the other agencies you’ve ever met and/or will meet. Or perhaps something about how our “razor sharp” strategy and “brain exploding” creative will yield untold riches to your balance sheet. Maybe we’ll even wrap it up in a distinctive sounding marketing-jargon package and tell you we’ve developed a unique way to come up with the “big idea” you’ve been looking for your entire life. Well, that’s just not our style. Bottom line, producing good work is the cost of entry in this business and yeah, we’re good. But our true uniqueness is how we run our business.
Let's start with our “employees.”
For starters, you’ll never hear us use the word “employees.” We may say staff, team, crew, O9’ers, or knuckleheads, but never the “E” word. That would imply that certain O9’ers are subordinate to others; a concept that’s unacceptable. Since the very beginning, we’ve strived to keep our org chart as flat as possible. We manage to pull this off due to the type of people that work here. It’s not easy getting a job at Object 9. Anyone that does manage to make it past our screening defenses and later reveals arrogance, self-righteousness or selfishness gets booted out the door that day—we refuse to let the purity of what we’ve built be poisoned by small thinkers. What we’re left with is people that love what they do and where they do it. They take pride when anyone in the organization succeeds and feel responsible for every failure. When they see someone struggling with a problem or working late, they step in—unasked—to offer help. We each take accountability for our individual contributions because we feel an obligation to the team to do so, not because a box on an org chart says that we’re supposed to. Honestly, our culture is our greatest asset. Having interacted with scores of companies over the years, we’ve never seen anything else quite like it. Why should this matter to you? Because people that take ownership in their company’s success and are allowed to focus 100% on what they love doing—rather than internal drama and politics—will consistently produce amazing work.
Now let's talk about our clients.
It’s difficult for us to measure client lifetime value because the majority of our clients never leave. Sure, the quality of our work plays a part in this, but the real glue is the type of relationships we form. The cornerstone of these relationships is trust. Trust that is earned through honest conversations sometimes filled with difficult questions that make you feel “uncomfortable” (as the CEO of an 8-year client puts it). If we don’t agree with a certain approach, we’ll let you know. If we develop a solution that would be best implemented by your internal team or another agency, we’ll say so. We’ve always felt that if we provided our clients open access to our experience, creativity and intelligence—and not merely drive them to solutions we can bill for—then our balance sheet would take care of itself. And that theory has proven true.
You need it when!?
Beyond the conversations is our ability to get things done quickly. Without fail, every client we work with eventually makes the comment, “We must be the most difficult client you have! Everything we do is last minute!” Did you catch that? We said every client makes that comment. Take comfort in knowing that your need for responsiveness is not exclusive and we are designed to facilitate today’s marketing realities. Our clients range from the mega-international brands to small regional brands and they all share the need for speed, so there’s no need to worry if we can handle the pressure—we know the drill. This is where our smaller size and flat org chart really shines.
Okay. There’s our confession. It may not be the most compelling “About Us” section you’ve ever read, but it’s honest. And as we just mentioned, honesty is where we believe all lasting relationships should begin.
Partner, Strategist and Idea Man
Growing up in South Georgia (below the gnat line), Jon may talk with a slow southern accent, but he’s a fast thinker. He’s a “connect the dots” guy who knows how to develop a killer marketing strategy and then dive right into creative concepts wrapped around that strategy. Whether he’s cutting the grass, taking a shower, enjoying an intimate moment with his wife …it’s downright unnatural (and a bit unsettling) the amount of time Jon spends thinking about ways to improve and enhance your marketing. He absolutely loves what he does which is perhaps why so many clients consider him a “trusted advisor” and frequently call him during evening hours just to bounce ideas around.
Jon has shared his expertise with clients in consumer products, food and beverage, retail, telecom, banking and finance, healthcare, electronics, pharmaceuticals, education, and many other business sectors. Additionally, Jon gives his time to a number of civic, professional and charitable organizations, including the United Way, Sales and Marketing Executives International and the American Advertising Federation. He is also frequently asked by universities and business organizations to explain the process of creating exceptional marketing and branding strategies.
Partner, Creative Guy and Dad
Andy has built a team with the ability to put serious smack-down on large, complex creative challenges. He’s developed effective campaigns for major beverage brands and is considered an expert source by industry trade publications for his insights on brand revitalization, packaging, product launches, and advertising. Most importantly, his kids consider him an expert on Legos and arm-farts. He and his team have won enough awards to crush a house (some you may have even heard of) and his work has appeared in PRINT’s regional design annual and other industry publications.
He’s also been to Jamaica quite a bit to work with Red Stripe beer, one of the most decorated beer brands in beverage giant Diageo’s award-winning portfolio, to develop campaigns to intensify Red Stripe’s position as the mega-brand in Jamaica. Andy recently helped create new packaging for Reily Food’s Luzianne brands and Camp Traditions soups and mixes. Andy’s other clients have included Winebow, Pabst Brewing Company, Café Bom Dia, Coca-Cola, Flying Dog Brewery, Monarch Beverage, Pepsi Americas, Community Coffee, Zuidam Gin, Nintendo and Tabasco.
Partner, Strategist and Pastry Connoisseur
A product of a globe-trotting military family, Branden studied Chemistry and Jazz at Louisiana State University. Realizing that he was too center-brained to exist in a pure science or pure art environment, he co-founded a marketing agency at 26. While some principals focus on one or two vertical markets, Branden’s problem-solving spans most industries.
This diversity of thought and experience brings unique, practical and compelling perspectives to every marketing challenge. More importantly, exposure to many different business models has enabled him to assimilate a vast range of best practices and processes that enable his teams to quickly and cost-effectively activate programs that drive growth.
In addition to leading the Atlanta office, Branden is a dedicated scouting leader and serves on the board of various non-profits including the Entrepreneur’s Organization. Branden is a sought after writer and speaker for topics ranging from personal and corporate branding, how to plan, build and leverage a network, and principals of leadership.