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Compliments to a Competitor

by | Jun 20, 2016

By Matt Smith

My first reaction was pure jealously.  Then I calmed down and realized I was actually pretty happy about what had happened.

It started the other night after I came home from work and, like many of us in our technology-inspired landscape, plopped down in my lazy boy with my laptop and turned on the television.

Usually, the TV serves mostly as background, but this time something came on that caught my eye.  It was a commercial for the Children’s National Health System that was beautifully photographed, superbly well-written and exquisitely produced.  It was a tightly edited, totally professional piece of work from top to bottom.

Being an ad guy, I wondered who had created such a terrific spot, and then it dawned on me. I remembered that one of my agency’s biggest competitors—Bethesda-based RP3—handled that account.  The agency won it late last year after a big review.


The spot I saw, lasting just 30 seconds, was packed with images of gorgeous kids in various forms of activity juxtaposed with shots of adult healthcare providers, all working to keep the kids healthy.  After I saw the commercial, I visited the agency’s website and saw another 30-second ad that was just as good as the first one.  I learned that the two spots are part of a new branding campaign themed “Grow Up Stronger” that includes traditional TV, print, and digital executions, with social and experiential elements to come.  The tagline is “We don’t just want kids to grow up.  We want them to grow up stronger.”

My worst fears had come true–RP3 had done it again.  Because I am by nature a competitive person, as most of us in the ad game are, I was annoyed (read jealous) that a rival had created such terrific work. Like a lot of advertising types, I want to annihilate all my opposition, especially RP3.  Why?  Because they do such damn good work and it’s harder than hell to compete against them.

But then I calmed down and realized I should probably thank them. They do terrific work and we actually have more in common than we might care to admit.  For example, we both share a vision of wanting to create great work for our clients.  We both want to make significant contributions to our clients’ brands and make them as successful as we possibly can.  And that’s a good thing.

It’s also a good thing—no, it’s a great thing—to see such terrific work being created in the Washington, D.C., metro advertising community.  I’ve long maintained that agencies like mine (and yes, RP3) are underappreciated and overlooked because we fall under the shadow of the New York shops. I know this sounds whiny, but I really believe (and I’m not alone) that we simply don’t get the attention or credit that we deserve for the great creative work we’re producing.  RP3’s spots for Children’s National Health are perfect examples.

The undeniable fact is that people here are doing truly fantastic, impactful, and inspiring work.  It’s quality work that raises the bar for all local agencies, some of whom have for too long relied on media weight, or digital mumbo jumbo to make their mark. The simple truth is great and engaging creativity cuts through all the other stuff. It always wins.  So thanks, RP3, for doing what you’re doing so well, and for making me want to do even better.

Matt Smith is founder and CEO of ad agency SmithGifford, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

Check out a response here from RP3.

About the Author

Capitol Communicator

Capitol Communicator is a unique online and offline resource for Mid-Atlantic advertising, marketing, public relations, digital and media communications professionals. The e-magazine, e-newsletters and events bring together communications professionals, fostering community and providing important information; news; trends; education; and opportunities for networking, career enhancement, business exchange and showcasing great work. Get more information by clicking on Capitol Communicator above.


  1. Jim Lansbury

    Thank you Matt, for those kind words. And to our brave client for making it possible. When we all support each other, the work can only get better.

  2. Dan

    This is like when the Wildlings and Night’s Watch lowered their swords and hugged it out. #respect


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