Whiskey, Bananas and Enough Soul to Choke a Horse

Essay 2: “A company, a brand or label that has an image, design sense or advertising campaign you admire and why.”

I’m not claiming to be some sort of bullshit detector, but I have the feeling that most people know when they’re being sold to. Brands that I admire have mastered the art of authentic storytelling, but they also offer much more than a good read. Corporate responsibility, transparency, strong brand voice, quality creative content, and an unparalleled user experience separate the good from the great. Great brands are a step ahead when they innovatively address all of these areas.

I’ve developed this appreciation and understanding within my last three years of living and working in Chicago. My immersive experience-based education afforded me many opportunities to work alongside industry game changers, and their lessons have made a lasting impact on my professional outlook. Looking forward, I can’t help but remember where my roots are planted. For this reason, I’m going to profile the light heavyweight Chicago advertising agency, O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul.

As my introduction may elude, O’Keefe, Reinhard & Paul (OKRP) is a small West Loop Chicago-based full service-advertising agency focusing on “big brand creativity with the prowess of a start-up.” If you’re familiar with any major work of American advertising in the last fifty years, the name Reinhard may ring a bell. Influenced by the legendary success of his father Keith, OKRP cofounder Matt Reinhard worked alongside Tom O’Keefe to create a legacy of his own.

After an award-winning career at DraftFCB, the two joined Nick Paul to create a new agency model for advertising, harkening back to the past in order to solve the challenges of tomorrow. Since their formation in 2013, this lean mean branding machine has remained true to their guiding principles all while delivering results to their clients. It’s not just me who recognizes their skill, either. Just a few months ago, AdAge named OKRP “Small Agency of the Year.”

Advertising an advertising agency is no easy task. Especially when the firm you work for claims to have more soul than Marvin Gaye. (They might be right, too.) To describe the agency icon and school of creativity at OKRP, you’d have to understand a little more about whiskey and bananas.

“Whiskey is smooth and brown. Beautifully translucent with a million subtle   secrets in each pour. Bananas are funny, curvy and yellow. You can slip and   break your pelvis if you step on a banana peel that’s been left on the floor.   Bananas are the comedic foil to whiskey’s straight man – the Jerry Lewis to   whiskey’s Dean Martin.”

Every piece of content that OKRP produces has traces of both whiskey and bananas. They’re an agency consistent in delivering quality content to reinforce their branding principles. If I learned anything during my time promoting the work, it’s that there are a million ways of saying something, but only one way actually worth reading. Content may be king, but brand voice sure wears the pants. That’s something I believe every marketer can admire.