By Cary Hatch, CEO of MDB Communications
1981: the year that MDB first opened its doors. Somehow, it feels like both a lifetime and a week ago. That was a good year for many people. After all, ’81 was the year that:
- Hill Street Blues premiered on NBC.
- Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court.
- MTV was launched.
- The IBM PC was introduced.
- And Justin Timberlake and Brittany Spears were born.
Thirty-five years later, MDB is still here, growing and succeeding in ways that I could have never before imagined. In that time we’ve gone from no-tech to high-tech, from amberlith and telefax to videoconferencing and Instagram. Our first website went live in 1996; today more than 42% of our revenue is digital.
It was this ability to adapt, work hard, and maybe benefit from a spot of luck that allowed us to survive four recessions and five presidents, no mean feat in this industry. In fact, we’re just one of four agencies in the region to have managed to do so.
The lesson I’ve learned from this 35-year journey is this: KEEP MOVING, a healthy “fear of failure” can be a wonderful motivator!
But more important than that, I’ve learned to be thankful.
For all of our staffers, clients and advocates, the first business-day following Thanksgiving has always been a time to reflect upon and relish the past year’s success, a feeling we at the agency have come to call #MDBeThankful.
As I took the podium at our 35th anniversary party hosted atop the magnificent Newseum and gazed upon the faces of all those who I’ve worked with over the years, I was struck by the realization of the important role that every person plays in building a 35-year legacy, and how thankful I was for having them around me. And while I publicly expressed my thanks to all at the party, I’d like to do so again here in order to preserve my gratefulness for all time
Whether you’ve hired me personally, referred our agency, worked with us, or cheered for us –I am grateful. That includes my first boss in Baltimore ad agency Torrieri Myers: Steve Bleinberger, the attorney for the 1987 MDB acquisition: Deborah Fox, former client and long-time friend: Debbie Kaplan (LGW), early clients: Peter McGhee (Diplomat Limousine), Rozanne Weissman (CPB) and Eve Wallace (ABA); and long-time colleagues, Sheila Wexler, Alex Orfinger, Debra Silimeo (Hager Sharp), Mike August (August Lang & Husak), Andy and Janice Ockershausen (WMAL/Our Town), Harley Griffiths (4A’s) and countless more.
I’d like to especially recognize MDB’s “serial clients” who we’ve had the pleasure of working with time and again over the years, and the dedicated creative, media and account teams of MDB who “made the magic happen” and formed the backbone of our success and stability.
I also want to share a very personal note and thanks to my family. From my husband and son, who’ve supported me and this hopeless love of what I do through thick and thin; to my parents, who took a leap of faith and made the extraordinary decision to lend their 30-year old daughter $10,000 to buy a three-person design firm way back in 1987; you all helped a perfectly ordinary onetime art director succeed in a town that was – and always will be – anything but ordinary
I’d like to share with you the toast that I used to end the celebration and thank my allies:
May you never regret a day in your life.
Good days give you experience,
Worst days give you lessons,
Best days, give you memories.
Here’s to another 35 years of success!
I am a huge fan of Cary and how she always takes the high road and does thoughtful work. MDB is one of the crown jewels of the Mid Atlantic market. I look forward to our fun debates on the Super Bowl each year. Cary always comes so prepared and ready to teach a course on marketing, while I show up wondering where the coffee is. No wonder MDB has been around so long. A rare thing in todays made up goofy name agencies. I look forward to our next battle, and hope in some way, we to can be 35 one day!