Amusement Park and DGWB come together to combine branded media and creative content development with values-based marketing and branding
Jimmy Smith, founder and CEO of Amusement Park Entertainment, has added a traditional branding centerpiece to his Los Angeles-based media and creative empire with the launch of Amusement Park, the only national marketing agency combining transmedia storytelling, content-development, digital and 360-degree branding and communications with a social sciences approach specifically designed to impact long-term consumer behavior.
The creative, content development powerhouse who orchestrated groundbreaking ads and entertainment for brands such as Nike and Gatorade, Smith partnered with three marketing executives affiliated with DGWB Advertising & Communications of Santa Ana, Calif.: current agency partners Mike Weisman and Jon Gothold; and Ed Collins, former DGWB chief marketing officer. DGWB, founded in 1988, is best known for its shared-values approach to marketing that mines the common ground between brands and the consumers they serve.
Amusement Park will specialize in creating long-term branding programs spanning paid, earned, shared and created media platforms, as well as the comprehensive analytics needed to measure consumer awareness and engagement, and sales ROI.
“We’re out to redefine full-service,” said Smith. “Amusement Park is that new breed of agency that can create the story and then tell it through integrated, cross-media programs able to revolutionize consumer engagement. This being Southern California, there are plenty of multiplatform entertainment providers and scores of traditional branding agencies working to differentiate their clients from the marketplace – but no single shop that can legitimately master both sides of the equation in a shared-values context.”
“This best-in-class new company also becomes the marketing and branding hub of the Amusement Park universe, allowing us to harness the full power and social currency of our owned entertainment and media properties.”
Amusement Park launches with a staff of 90 and dual offices in Los Angeles’ West Third Street corridor and the Artist’s Village neighborhood of Downtown Santa Ana, where DGWB purchased and renovated the circa-1935 Santa Ana City Hall building in 2000. The new firm has already been asked to participate in several new business pitches encompassing both content-development and branding responsibilities.
Smith, Weisman, Gothold and Collins share partnership of the new entity, with Smith also serving as chairman and expanding the chief creative officer (CCO) role he performs for other Amusement Park companies. Weisman becomes CEO and Gothold continues as executive creative director, the role he held at DGWB. Collins, formerly an automotive marketing director at NCC Media, becomes president.
Weisman will also oversee the company’s shared values marketing and The Values Institute, an independent social marketing think tank formed at DGWB in 2010 and currently transitioning to nonprofit status.
“Ever since we escaped the big-agency culture in 1988, DGWB has been actively leveraging strategic opportunities,” said Weisman. “In 2000, it was moving from an Irvine office park to Santa Ana’s historic downtown core to inspire a more authentic creative process; several years later it was acquiring digital and PR agencies to strategically deliver on changes in the media landscape; and most recently, it was the formalization of our shared values process into The Values Institute.”
“Amusement Park represents the payoff for our most innovative move yet since it strategically evolves both companies into a far greater whole – in this case, a global, transmedia firm able to help clients use new storytelling technologies and platforms to build global brands.”
Smith founded Amusement Park Entertainment in 2011 to target clients in sports, art, entertainment and verge culture with an unconventional, ideas-based approach using immersive brand experiences, created media, and interactive technology. Instead of following the traditional advertising agency model, Amusement Park retains at least a partial equity stake in its created client programs and branded entertainment properties to generate a constant revenue flow.
The author of Soul of the Game and Dark Horse Comics’ The Truth, and the co-creator of the MTV documentary, “Nike Battlegrounds,” Smith was previously executive VP and executive creative director at BBDO and group creative director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, where, along with Lee Clow, he drove the transformation of Gatorade to “G,” a decision that ultimately transformed the category. However, it was during a stint at Wieden+Kennedy that he co-created “Book of Dimes,” the revolutionary Nike ad starring LeBron James. In addition to its branded entertainment work, Amusement Park operates specialty divisions focused on sports and music.
Collins comes to Amusement Park after four years at NCC Media, a New York-based advertising sales, marketing, and technology company representing cable and TV providers. During his 25-year career, he has been affiliated with Young & Rubicam, Berlin Cameron United, DDB, Hill Holliday and TBWA\Chiat\Day. He is also an adjunct professor of advertising at Chapman University.
According to Gothold, it was Collins who initially brought DGWB and Amusement Park together in 2014 as yet another strategic opportunity. “Ed had experience working directly with all these diverse personalities, and thought that if we could ever combine them into a single unified force, the payoff for clients would be amazing.”
Long regarded as one of Southern California’s most influential independent ad agencies, DGWB has serviced brands in the lifestyle, technology, restaurant, packaged goods and healthcare industries. During the past decade, the firm has acquired digital marketing and PR agencies to offer clients a full suite of communications services while formalizing its commitment to shared values branding and storytelling. Current DGWB clients include Hilton Garden Inn, Toshiba, Dole, California Avocado Commission, Chicken of the Sea, Yogurtland and Wienerschnitzel, among others.
Mandi Dossin, DGWB general manager and one of the three agency partners, is leaving in April. She will continue to work with the firm as a consultant and facilitate the agency’s Glass Half Full speaker’s series.
“This also represents a strategic opportunity for me,” said Dossin. “After more than 20 years of running DGWB, I can say with confidence that we have the right people in place to allow me to pass the baton and do something different,” she said. “I’m excited about exploring my options and even returning to my roots of working directly with a small group of marketing clients. But first I’m going to do a little traveling and visit some of the places I’ve been trying to get to for a long time.”
“This exciting new chapter simply wouldn't be possible without Mandi,” said Weisman. “Her contributions to both DGWB and Southern California advertising in general can’t be overstated, and we’re honored to continue both our friendship and our professional connection to her as partners of DGWB Ventures, which owns the Amusement Park headquarters building in Santa Ana.”
Smith is quick to point out that his lifelong goal of putting the magic back in advertising is very much alive at Amusement Park. “We’re putting the pieces in place to create something truly revolutionary – both for our clients and employees. Like I said when we launched Amusement Park Entertainment, the results will be off the skillet.”