2009-10-23 / Business

Lanier Jones of ADCO

By John Temple Ligon thecolumbiastar.com

“Famously Hot” is the new Columbia slogan, and it appears to have caught on after many others were offered, tried and discarded. Remember “It’s Happening Now?”

The origin of “Famously Hot” can be traced to Lanier Jones of ADCO, the facilitator during a series of workshops looking for Columbia’s identity.

Jones was born in Greensboro, N.C., where his father worked for Southern Bell. His mother taught in the public schools. Jones has two younger brothers, one in printing sales in eastern N.C., and the other recently retired from BB&T in Charlotte.

Jones moved to Charlotte with his family when he was five. He stayed in Charlotte through graduation from East Mecklenburg High School. College for Jones was also in Charlotte, where he was with the first graduating class to matriculate all four years at UNC-Charlotte. His BA degree is in business administration and finance. When he was enrolled, the school had no more than 2,500 students. Today, the campus runs with more than 25,000 students.

While in college, Jones worked WSOC–Channel 9, a television station that also had an FM station. The FM station went through a transition to full automation, and Jones worked in the middle of all that. Just after graduation, Jones marketed his WSOC experience to WLOS in Asheville, N.C., where they, too, needed to automate their FM station.

After signing off at WLOS–FM once it was fully automated, Jones came to Columbia to work for WXRY–FM in radio sales. After about five years at WXRY, Jones started his own firm, Media Placement Services. The first three clients were Hampton Pontiac, Hamilton Jewelers, and Miller’s of Columbia.

Media Placement Services evolved over 10 years of growth to become a fullservice advertising agency that had anywhere from 75 to 100 clients. With such volume, the firm was Channel 10’s biggest customer. And as such, Jones had his own film crew, editing crew, and production operation.

In 1990, Jones wanted to start The Ad Company, now ADCO, but he needed a graphics specialist. He partnered with Brian Murrell mostly for Murrell’s command of graphics. ADCO has since taken in a third partner, Lora Prill, their vice president of marketing for the past seven years. ADCO today has a dozen people on full–time staff.

One of ADCO’s first major clients was Baptist Hospital, and Richland Memorial soon asked the firm for its services. With Richland Memorial the request was to handle the graphics, only, and not run things as a typical ad agency. Then Palmetto Health came along, and ADCO went back to Baptist.

ADCO moved into strategic marketing with its client Southern Mutual, a S.C. insurance company that dealt with churches and their needs in casualty and property coverage. ADCO helped Southern Mutual with its reconsidered business plan and then put together a parallel marketing plan to fit the new business plan, and today Southern Mutual operates in six states.

ADCO’s skills in branding were honed with the local United Way at the time run by Cary Smith. With its United Way accomplishments, ADCO took on the Palmetto Health Foundation, which wanted to raise $20 million for a children’s hospital. And they did.

Similar branding efforts have succeeded with Doctors Care all over S. C. ADCO has been working with Doctors Care CEO Michael Stout for about seven years.

ADCO works for its clients in three main areas: (1) strategic marketing, (2) creative design, and (3) interactive media.

Jones says the new horizon is with the mobile, the (really) smart phones led by the social drivers. The new phones are what Jones calls the third screen. The first screen was the television, and the second was the computer, but the third, the mobile, is the future.

A whole segment of the public relations and advertising business is filled with lawyers and their law firms of all sizes. Jones and ADCO move their skills among many law firms, and the law firms appreciate the broad base of expertise. Lawyers are always referring each other, so the ideas developed in marketing lawyers are somewhat fluid.

For fun, Jones is a regular at Garden City, where he deals with the same homeowner every visit.

One of his avocations is his position as this year’s president of the Columbia Rotary Club, one of Rotary’s largest clubs. His Rotary responsibilities included a trip to the international convention last summer in Birmingham, U.K.

Another avocation for Jones is his committed connection with his church, Shandon Baptist, where he pulls his strategic marketing experience into the tasks of growing the church’s congregation.

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