Jeff Hendrix is the co-founder of an agency that won 29 Pele awards this year.
Jeff Hendrix’s friends refer to his Kailua home as the ‘Hendrix Hyatt’ or the ‘Hilton Hotel Hendrix.’ “If I could have any type of business, it’d be a bed and breakfast,” says Hendrix, director of account service for advertising agency Hendrix Miyasaki Shin. “I always have company,” he says.
Hendrix literally had company every day from 1995 to 1997, when a 250-square-foot corner of his home doubled as the headquarters for Hendrix Miyasaki Shin, a three-man advertising agency at the time. Although business was slow at first, the troika juggled accounts services, copywriting, and media planning and art direction. Soon they landed their first account, St. Mark Elementary School.
As their portfolio swelled, Hendrix and business partners Grant Miyasaki and Brad Shin in 1998 were forced to hunt for a new location in Honolulu. They struck gold with a 750-square-foot space in the Executive Plaza on South Beretania Street. It was in the same backyard as their clients, which now include Island Air, Xerox Hawaii, Aloha Tower Marketplace, Central Pacific Bank, Mountain Apple Co., Kona Village Resort, Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Co. and AIG Hawaii Insurance Co. Inc.
“We felt like we had moved into a palace at first, but in a year we had outgrown that space,” Hendrix says. Today, visitors entering the new offices of Hendrix Miyasaki Shin will find a reception area crowded with 29 pyramid-shaped Pele Awards – the annual distinction recognizing the best in Hawaii’s advertising industry. The awards on March 10 were presented to the agency for its Sprint Hawaii, Nuuanu Orchids, Zippy’s and the State Department of Health advertisements. Hendrix himself received a Pele Award that night, when the Hawaii Advertising Federation named him the 2001 Ad Person of the Year.
“I can’t take the credit. It’s a team effort,” Hendrix says. “I am nothing without the others. I am so lucky to work with a talented and fun team.”
How would you describe the hierarchy of advertising dollars in Hawaii?
TV is the most expensive medium, and the most powerful because it involves sound, sight, motion and altogether it creates an emotion. But each medium has its own pluses and minus. Radio is a great vehicle. It’s very easy to make last-minute changes on the radio, and we can react to a marketplace, where we can respond very quickly. Print helps us if we have a more complicated product or message. But dollar-wise, TV still gets the lion’s share.
What are your predictions for the advertising industry this year?
Budgets were cut last year. We probably spent fewer media dollars. This year, we expect the same thing. We’re bracing for a bad tourism year—the stock market dip on the mainland, the energy crisis on the mainland; it’s all going to affect us. I don’t really see an upswing.
How can companies market themselves without spending a lot of money during slow economic times?
We have to do it smarter and more efficiently. We have to be leaner. For example, we won’t do much TV, or maybe we’ll book a smaller-space ad in print. A different ratio of media, a different percentage of TV versus radio and print. Different ways to spend a shrinking budget and still be out there and still get the exposure a client needs.
It offers us an exciting challenge. Because a lot of times, it’s the creative that’s going to shine through, and not just the media. So if we can have cut-through creative, even if it’s just a smaller space ad, we can still do the work for our client, and do something that’s effective for them.
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin in March began publishing a morning edition in addition to its regular afternoon paper. This spells competition for the other morning paper, Honolulu Advertiser. What impact is this having on the advertising industry?
Competition in the marketplace is a good thing. Good for the consumer, the advertiser and for us. It’s good all the way around. Is there room for two afternoon papers, two morning papers and a Sunday paper? No, I don’t think so. Ideally, I’d like to see a morning and afternoon paper separated. That’s ideal. Competition is a good thing, the quality of our papers will improve and through a large degree hopefully, as the papers improve, it’ll be a better vehicle for advertising.
What is Hawaii’s reaction to Internet-based advertising?
Internet advertisements really took off in the mainland. There was high expectation for that type of advertising, but it’s not proving to be all that effective. Banner advertising tends to be an irritant. And people who are Internet-savvy have a purpose to be on the net. They’re going to get the information even if they’re looking at the advertiser’s site.
I think banner ad dollars are slipping. Internet advertising is something of the future, but it’s just a matter of bringing the technology up to speed. In the mainland, they’ve come up with different types of banners, such as skyscrapers (vertical placements). The novelty of that causes an increase in effectiveness, but then it drops off again. Internet advertising hasn’t hit upon the need to be real effective. But it is the future. I think that it’s something we’re always studying. I just read an article in U.S. News & World Report (March 12) that says that big companies are still advertising on the Internet, but it’s such a small percentage of their overall advertising that it’s dropped, because the effectiveness has gone down.
The Internet is also adjusting itself to accommodate advertising as well. Before they were more inflexible, now more of our clients are more accommodating, where in the beginning, it was a take-it-or-leave-it attitude.
What types of advertisements capture the hearts of consumers in Hawaii?
Some love the funny, tongue-in-cheek ads. Our most powerful spots have been emotional and local. When we did image advertising for Sprint, for example, we positioned them as a local company in Hawaii. We shot locally and used the music very powerfully. And I think people responded to it. All of our ads really have an idea behind it and it hooks the viewer or reader and makes them think.
In all of our Zippy’s ads, there’s a hook. We’ve got a spot featuring a woman doing sit-ups. Her face lights up after straining at each sit-up. Halfway through the spot a Napoleon’s Napple is revealed as her motivation and special treat. It’s a left turn; it’s not what the viewer expects. It’s done in a cute way. It hooks the viewer, makes it interesting, humorous maybe, or it pulls at the heartstrings.
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