By Mackenzie George, Wendt Intern
As the longest-running advertising agency in Montana, I knew before walking in the door that The Wendt Agency had a history of excellence. But it was by spending hours and hours shadowing, writing, researching, and listening that I learned just how ingrained that history is. Meghan informed me early in the summer that strong female leadership has been a tradition at Wendt since its inception in 1929. While reviewing the agency’s history, I discovered that the company’s first secretary, Zelma, later became a leader of Wendt. And Tegan made special note of positive female mentorship when I spoke to her about company culture here.
At Wendt, company culture is not a buzzword — it’s an emphasis. Wendt employees ensure there is a seat at the table for everyone. Jen made it a point to invite me to meetings and conference calls. “Thought this might be a good learning experience for you!” she’d write in the email reminders. Ideas are welcomed irrespective of department or experience. I felt very fortunate to be taken seriously. I was asked for feedback and introduced to clients when listening in on conference calls. I wasn’t asked to fetch coffee or make copies; I was granted a seat at the table.
It was kind of them to do that, but it was also smart. Not because I had worthwhile ideas (I spent most of my first day flipping furiously through Wendt’s welcome brochure trying to memorize advertising acronyms), but because it’s a continuation of what makes Wendt, Wendt. Inclusion is part of their MO. Kara said it eloquently: “Take people with very different personalities and ideas and interests and quirks and challenges, and put us all together, and we’re all focused on this thing called Wendt and making it successful … and we care about it enough that we embrace each other, embrace all those differences, and that’s what makes it stronger.” By using differences as a place for growth rather than division, this team has thrived. It’s a system that’s worked for 90 years, and it’s a lesson that other organizations – and not just ad agencies! – should learn from. The creativity flows because everyone contributes to the process.
This tight-knit community means collaboration crosses department lines, but each person still has a well-defined specialization. There is no room for superfluity at Wendt; everyone works energetically each day to accomplish all their tasks. While each person has a specific area of expertise, they all also possess a foundational skill set including a strong work ethic, creativity, and adaptability. As in many fields, success in advertising hinges on whether you can embrace change. It’s an ever-evolving industry, and in response, every one of the 13 people who make up Wendt utilize their versatility in every venture.
As the latest, youngest, and temporary addition to the 13, I was pleasantly surprised to have an office to myself. (Aren’t interns supposed to reside in some corner somewhere, like Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs?) There was a sign with my name on it and a Wendt tumbler waiting for me on my first day. I learned a lot in that office: about click-through rates, tracking campaigns, writing copy, engagement, organic versus sponsored media, and search engine optimization. And Wendt’s legendary email chains. Someone will send a link to an article, a photo, or an ad, and everyone will respond enthusiastically. Here, employees are excited about their work, and excited about each other. Birthdays, babies, and other milestones do not go uncelebrated. Employees’ dogs, who sometimes meander through offices, do not go unpetted. I can’t imagine that the supportive environment doesn’t contribute to Wendt’s commercial success.
I owe a big thank you to everyone for granting me access to their offices to get a glimpse of who they are and what they do. I learned about juggling a job and a family. There were moments of pure joy incessantly squishing Tiffany’s spongy ice cream cone toy. I found renewed motivation to get a good job so I can start building a shoe collection like Johna’s. I was reassured by encouragement from Brenda. These individuals solidified my decision to add a business management concentration to my college plans when I start my sophomore year this fall. And they helped reaffirm a hardy appreciation for my home state of Montana. The current of creativity that crackles through Wendt is inspiring and refreshing, and I look forward to returning to New York having had this engaging experience.
BY MACKENZIE GEORGE, INTERN
“Creativity that flows” greets viewers as they enter Wendt’s website, accompanied by a cascading, frothy waterfall. This front-and-center placement—and the fact that the word is even larger than the agency’s logo—may seem odd, but it encapsulates the powerful impact creativity has as a cornerstone of Wendt.
Creativity sparks joy in some and shudders in others. Some people seem to believe that it is a magical element found only in children that dissipates as one ages, like monsters under your bed. “Oh, I used to be creative,” I’ve heard, quickly followed by the disclaimer, “As a kid. I drew/wrote/composed/painted all the time.”
But creativity, at least from my experience, isn’t something you grow out of. Instead, it’s an ever-evolving concept whose trajectory is worth following. I was a horrific visual artist as a kid. Yet my imagination concocted stories of chickens who played the trumpet and little girls who traveled through time. I made business cards for my side hustles that never quite took off (a dog-walking business and tutoring service). Creativity was using rocks for currency when playing “Town” with my other 7-year-old friends. We operated gas stations, ran grocery stores, and led police departments, all from the driveway.
As I grew older, the stories I wrote grew slightly more realistic, and I traded rocks for bimonthly real-life checks, but I never doubted that my friends and I still carried some semblance of creativity. It just looked a little different now: It was finding ways to persuade a staff writer to turn in his articles for the school paper; it was deciding how to angle a forehand out of the reach of my opponent. I wouldn’t have done well with a paintbrush, and honestly, I didn’t feel like I really needed it to innovate.
For the past month and a half, I’ve had the privilege of spending time in the many realms of creativity at Wendt. Whether they accept it or not, one doesn’t work at this agency without this special combo of innovation and individuality. As I interviewed the 14 individuals who make up The Wendt Agency, certain phrases were repeated across departments: on the forefront … wide-open spaces … client satisfaction.
They’re answers to different questions (what makes Wendt special, what they like about Montana, what success looks like to them), but what each response has in common is that sneaky, scary word. To be on the forefront of a field demands creativity. Montana’s wide-open spaces serve as an avenue for creativity to be pursued. And client satisfaction to the degree that Wendt provides each day requires the use of imagination and original ideas. The Wendt Agency utilizes this vision in all departments to ensure success, and it’s a welcome reminder for me that creativity doesn’t have an expiration date.
BY MACKENZIE GEORGE, INTERN
As we celebrate our 90-year history, we’ve been reflecting with our clients and past Wendt employees on why they like working with Wendt. But our current employees have something to say about our company, as well. We understand that we stand on the shoulders of those before us when it comes to how we got here. It is also exciting to know that just as prior Wendt employees built our company to what it is today, we are stitches in the quilt that is Wendt history moving forward.
Click the photos to see what we love about Wendt.
Summer in Montana is the perfect time for vacations, swimming, and new adventures. There’s never a shortage of things to do in this beautiful state we call home. So grab the sunscreen and bug spray and soak up the summertime vibes!
-The Wendt Agency
The 2019 Telly awards have been announced, and Wendt is coming out extra shiny! This year, The Telly Awards celebrates 40 years of honoring video and television creativity, with a theme of “A story for every screen.” As you can imagine, the competition is fierce. 12,000 entries were received across all categories. Judges award based on content/quality of message, production and execution, and overall experience.
While we always appreciate it when our high-quality creative work earns well-deserved awards, our truest success is partnering with our clients to give them a product we are all proud of and that brings results. Thank you to the Blackfeet Tribe – Safe on All Roads initiative, Montana Lottery, and Shodair Children’s Hospital for letting us share your stories and encourage your success.
Shodair Children’s Hospital – Local TV: General-Hospital and General-Not-for-profit
Montana Lottery Big Sky Bonus – Local TV: Campaign-Promotional
MDT Impaired Driving – A Blackfeet Crisis – Non-Broadcast: General-Cultural
The Telly Awards were founded in 1979 and honor outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs; video and film productions; and online commercials, videos, and films.
If you walk outside your business doors, do your clients know what it is like to be a part of your team?
Our Wendt culture is crafted so we can be the best team members for our clients and each other. We work every day to make sure we bring our best selves to the job. Recently, on social media, we did a series on our brand pillars. Last fall, our directors decided that it was time to review our brand pillars to ensure they encompassed our dedication to our clients, our ethics, and our culture. We refined them – together – in a team building workshop. We proudly display them on our wall, where everyone can review them, and our guests never have to question where we stand.
In addition to the regular gatherings we have, at the beginning of the year we started a new way to recognize one another for the little things (and sometimes the big things). Gallop research shows that it isn’t enough to recognize an employee. Such recognition needs to be “honest, authentic, and individualized.” We would like to think there is an element of fun, too. Enter: our recognition box! If we catch a person excelling in an area that deserves a call to attention, we pick an item that represents that person and the work they did. A pack of stickers for “sticking around,” a squishy ice cream cone for all the stress, a sleep mask for tirelessly working on a hot project. It might sound silly, but it lightens the heaviness of the work, grounds us, and gives us a laugh at the end of it all. The important part, though, is that it gives someone an opportunity to tell one person, in front of everyone, “I see you. You did great. I am proud of you.” It is a real moment away from the hustle of the day where we get to acknowledge a job well done.
Does your workplace have a way to acknowledge the work of employees?