Written by Cathi Douglas
Santa Ana’s world renown advertising icon Michael Weisman loves the idea that adults can walk through his doors and become kids again – believing that anything is possible and having an undiluted good time. That’s one reason why he and his partners at DGWB – downtown Santa Ana’s acclaimed advertising agency – chose to invest in and rebrand this spring as Amusement Park.
DGWB co-owners Weisman and Jon Gothold – partnering with Jimmy Smith, founder and chief executive of Los Angeles based Amusement Park Entertainment, and Ed Collins, a one-time DGWB chief marketing officer – want to create something unique with Amusement Park.
Amusement Park offers clients an out-of-the-box toolkit to send their messages to key audiences with its unique “entertainment view of the world,” explained Bob Ochsner, the agency’s public relations director. “There are different ways to communicate with people – games, comics, made-for-TV events – all with different components. We are trying to build a bridge to the consumer in engaging ways.”
The rebranded agency is “not just bolting a traditional ad agency onto an entertainment company,” Weisman recently told the Orange County Business Journal. “It’s these two entities coming together to form something completely different, which is this media-agnostic communications organization that can create social currency for clients beyond giving them sales, which is obviously the lifeblood of any business.”
Founded in 1998, DGWB has 90 staff members in offices in L.A. and Santa Ana and serves clients like the Hilton Garden Inn, Wienerschnitzel, Toshiba, and Yogurtland. “We’re not looking to do the historical model of advertising,” Weisman said. “The world has changed. Expectations are different. Advertising needs to be entertaining to consumers.”
One thing that will not change with the new partnership and new name is The Values Institute, a strategic think tank that conducts research and consults businesses in identifying and implementing shared values. “We have found like-minded partners who understand the values expectations for our company and clients,” Weisman noted. “It is the focal point of messaging for all our clients, and in our new venture we have found that it is a really nice marriage between our two entities.”
This new chapter continues DGWB’s long history of innovation and change. The ad agency’s headquarters in the strikingly beautiful, circa-1935 Santa Ana City Hall building have been home base and the springboard for not only the agency’s award-winning ads, but also its important involvement in building the downtown’s burgeoning creative class.
When seeking new office space after their lease in an Irvine office park expired, the agency’s partners discovered that Santa Ana is a real city, with real history and a real soul, Weisman recalled. “We loved that our creative services company would be in that environment, and we fell in love with the city.” Joining the downtown arts movement and becoming Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce members, the agency and its staff remain involved in the community, offering pro bono and volunteer services to Taller San Jose, Downtown, Inc. and Working Wardrobes of Orange County.
“For me, there is nothing like Santa Ana in all of Southern California,” Weisman noted. “There were a lot of dreamers here 25 years ago and here the downtown creative art services community is serving as a hallmark of the city. It looks like the United Nations, drawing a melting pot of diverse young millennials.”