Some thoughts on KK BOLD Chairman Wayne Kranzler and his impending retirement that took me way too long to write about.
Wayne Kranzler, circa 1997.
The year was 2009. It had been decided that our ad agency, Kranzler Kingsley, was changing its name. During one of the rounds in the process, a group of us met in the conference room to go over some of our ideas. During the exchange, our art director chimed in and suggested we should change our name to just Kranzler, because that’s what most people called us anyway.
This was true. That is, except for one vender who occasionally called us Kranzley Kingsler, because that was the way he was.
Of course, there was no way in hell we were ever going to become Kranzler (or Kranzley Kingsler), so we eventually became KK BOLD.
The Kranzler is implied.
Wayne Kranzler, our agency’s President, then CEO, then Chairman, is retiring this week, and I have been lucky enough to call him my boss for almost eighteen years. He isn’t just the type of guy you want to work for; he’s the type of guy you want to work with.
Here’s an example. Spring 1997. I had been hired as a copywriter a month or two earlier. We were a day away from our agency’s biggest film production to date. Our producer was on maternity leave. The account executive had just gone on vacation, but not before giving us a multi-day schedule that she had arranged with our healthcare client. The film crew was coming in from Fargo. Since I had done a little broadcast work at my previous gig, I was brought into the project.
Wayne and I walked over to meet with the client that day, as they were located pretty close to where we worked. We walked into her office, sat down, and Wayne asked if everything on the schedule was still a go or if anything had changed since our account executive had last talked with them.
Nothing had been arranged. Nothing. We were supposed to be shooting air ambulances, surgeries, baby deliveries and emergency room reenactments the next day and nothing had been arranged.
Needless to say, the walk back to the agency was interesting. That was the first time (and the only time) I saw Wayne get mad. Not in front of the client. Not at me, even though I was in convenient proximity. That boy was steamin’. But when we got back to the agency, we got some people together, formulated a plan and we got to work. And we pulled it off. We did the impossible. It became known as the Medcenter Miracle.
That day, I realized I wasn’t just working for a suit with a fancy title. Hot damn. I was working for an honest-to-God leader.
And I’ve been working for him ever since. That is, until this week is over. Dammit.
Getting a Wayne project was almost always awesome, and I’ll tell you why. He did his homework and was able to tell us what we needed to know. And when we came up with a concept that went beyond the norm or the client’s comfort level but still did what it was created to do, by God he sold it. He got it and he sold it.
Some of my favorite agency projects were Wayne projects. Main Street Tire’s first campaign with a Neanderthal concept. Fireside’s 25th anniversary with a disco concept. BMDA’s igloo ad with a… well, igloo concept.
When you worked on a Wayne project, Wayne let you shine. And if you weren’t shining, he worked with you until you did. Wayne knew the difference between shit and Shinola, and he made sure you did too.
When there were changes, they were small and never just for the sake of change. And when he didn’t know something, he didn’t make up an answer; he found out the answer. He was thoughtful and smart and good-humored and honest and I will sorely miss him at the agency.
What I’m about to say I’ve said before but I’ll say it again.
Wayne, you proved to me that respect and integrity can survive in this business. Thank you for that, and I will do what I can to ensure that your influence keeps shining on.
Now go enjoy that retirement of yours, because you’ve more than earned it.
And excuse me for a moment, as I seem to have something in my eye.
— Clayton Hove