by Lorie Lewis Ham
Bring together a choreographer, a director, writers, and a bunch of actors, and you have the makings of a play. Or you might also have much of the staff at Marketing Plus, a Fresno marketing agency that has been around since the 1980s. Could this theater connection possibly give MP a creative edge over the competition?
MP CEO Julie Lucido, whose first taste of local theater was auditioning for a Good Company Players show at the age of 13, believes there is a direct correlation between marketing and theater. “Whether marketing or putting on a show, the point is to get someone to stop and ‘watch’. As we also have extensive experience in complete trade show management I have found those with a theater background come already trained to build a booth, create an experience, provide a professional demo or presentation staff for clients, and work with the look and style of each client to make a booth unique to them and help communicate their brand story.”
Julie began “working” at MP as a child, helping out around the office doing simple tasks. The agency was started by her stepfather Bob Hance and run by him and her mother. Bob was later diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 1998. After college, Julie began her career in the non-profit sector working as the managing director of The Discovery Center, where she helped turn around their financial situation and created a complete marketing plan for them. “When Bob Hance was diagnosed, I began helping my mom again, and ended up leaving the museum to work full time with Marketing Plus.”
Once she was full time at MP, Julie commuted to Sacramento to take part in a post- graduate program with UC Davis extension in marketing and strategic planning. “My BA is from UC Santa Cruz in Theater Arts–which is why I think I truly enjoy the marketing and ad world as my creative mind can be utilized as well as my business skills.”
Julie took over sole ownership of the company from her mother in 2004. Some of Julie’s proudest moments at MP include awards they have won, such as the Addy Award they won this year. She is also very proud that one of their campaigns was selected by McGraw Hill to be included in a marketing textbook.
MP’s Social Media Manager Scott Hancock started his acting career at a young age and has also gone on to direct many shows. Before joining the company a little over a year ago, he worked as Theater Arts Resource Coordinator for the Kings Canyon Unified School District.“We are quite the dramatic crowd, I can tell you that,” shared Scott. “Several of us are active in the local theater scene, as performers, conductors, choreographers, and directors. The background definitely helps me, I can put my ‘theater director’ hat on when it’s time for a video for Facebook or Vine, or whatever platform we’re using for that client for the specific information. Having actors in the office helps, there’s never a lack of people willing to jump in front of a camera and ham it up.”
Another employee with a theater background is their Production Assistant and Webmaster John Masier, who first knew Julie from working together at GCP, and began with MP in 2001. “I had already helped out Marketing Plus previously at a tradeshow, so I had some experience with the company. She needed a new employee, and I needed a new job, and she asked me to come work here!”
John graduated from Fresno State with a double major in Geography and Radio/TV Broadcasting, then fell into theater related jobs for years, both on and off stage. He too feels that his theater background has been helpful in his work at MP. “Not only did it get me the job in the first place, it also helps to have a creative background for anything in marketing or advertising.”
MP’s Creative Director Greg Grannis also knew Julie first through theater, but they didn’t start working together on marketing projects until four years ago. Greg creative directs and art directs all creative jobs at MP, including doing much of the copywriting. Prior to working for Julie, he worked at Jeffrey Scott Advertising for 15 years.
Greg’s connection to theater began with GCP’s Junior Company. Later he moved on to lead roles, directing, and choreographing. “My theater background has been a direct influence on my career, as it allows me to visualize how a piece of broadcast–whether television, radio, or long format–should come together to be both entertaining and moving. As an inherently shy person, I also learned how to get up in front of a group and present or speak, transforming my nerves and adrenaline into a strength that conveyed excitement and energy for the product.”
A newer kid on the block is intern Miguel Gastelum, who also works for local theater company StageWorks Fresno. Miguel has attended Fresno State as a theater arts major, and has acted, assistant directed, and directed, many productions, including most recently Dog Sees God. “Theater is great in that it teaches you how to be social and work as a team. These two things are also important in an office setting–communication and working together can either make or break a project.”
Many other faces fill the offices of MP in various positions, and while they don’t have a theater background, most have some sort of connection to the arts. All of them agree that the best things about working there are the people they work with and the creative atmosphere. “The office is the complete opposite of a micro managed office, so being able to work creatively and with a flexible schedule is great,” said Office Controller Matthew Timbrook.
“Definitely the opportunity to work with such a creative and dynamic team,” shared Account Executive Katrina Tonkogolosuk about what she loves best about working for MP.
Having recently moved to new larger offices, MP has added a new creative/theater related component to MP with the addition of The Art Box. “The Art Box is Marketing Plus’ new baby,” shared Scott. “A 600 square foot blank canvas that can be used for live performances, photos shoots, art showings, concerts, rehearsal space, workshops, lunches, dinners…pretty much anything you can imagine that you want to use the space for, it can be done.”
Though they have a solid reputation and a niche in the produce marketing world, they also have clients in many other fields, including some local theater companies such as StageWorks Fresno. “Since the inception of StageWorks Fresno, Julie Lucido and her team has been a part of our success,” said StageWorks’ artistic director Joel Abels. “The great thing about working with MP is that they ‘get’ theatre and Fresno audiences.”
Julie believes the biggest challenge for anyone working in marketing today is how rapidly communication is changing. The challenge is to keep up, while bridging the generations you need to market to today. The MP team seems ready to meet these challenges head on and always with an extra flair. Julie hinted at the possibility of even using their theater skills to put on a show someday so who knows! “Stay tuned,” said Julie.
MP is a full service creative marketing agency whose services include advertising, public relations, social media management, web development, trade shows, food styling and much more. To learn more about MP’s staff, keep an eye on their weekly blog, and learn more about what they have to offer including a full list of services, be sure to check out their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter, @MPlusCreative. They are located at 499 W. Bedford, Suite 101, Fresno, California 93711. Phone number: (559) 840-2393.