How SMZ has survived and thrived for 87 years

January 12, 2016
January 12, 2016 smz-blog

How SMZ has survived and thrived for 87 years


In a world filled with constant change, attention to timeless fundamentals has become more important than ever for an organization to stay afloat and prosper. Today SMZ celebrates our 87th anniversary, edging the agency ever closer to nine decades and that all-important century mark as one of the nation’s oldest independent advertising agencies.

Jim Collins, author of the business anthem, Built to Last, argues exceptional companies that withstand the test of time aren’t accidents of a business ecosystem; they’re visionary organizations.  Ad agencies, like most service businesses, are quite often personality-based ventures built upon one dynamic creative mind who had an ability to inspire others around them toward dazzling creative achievements.  The trick is building a firm that can prosper far beyond the tenure of that one individual through multiple life cycles of a company.  According to Collins, sustaining business momentum comes from being a company that stands for something, from believing and practicing those beliefs in real and tangible ways.

We are proud that SMZ has continued to evolve within the context of its founders’ core ideologies while adhering to the timeless fundamentals that spawned the agency back in 1929.  For us, that ideology stems directly from being entrusted to create likable ideas for inspiring clients.  It shapes what we do, how we do it, why we do it and for whom we do it. It is the foundation upon which our firm operates now … and will into the future.

So, what other ingredients have contributed to this milestone?  Much of it can be tied directly to the fact that SMZ is a family-owned business. That family DNA (involving second- and-third generation family members) has made us a relationship-based agency.  It’s also been the catalyst behind our having the privilege to represent a number of iconic brands that, like SMZ, are family owned.  Companies like the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, Wright & Filippis, the Fisher Theater, Taubman and Grand Hotel all share that family-owned culture that has enabled them to continue evolving and changing as the business and economic landscape around them changes.  Like SMZ, they have core values and beliefs that are fundamental to their longevity and success.

Contrary to what some may believe, old isn’t automatically stodgy. Quite the opposite in fact.

SMZ is a dynamic company. Today’s SMZ remains an independent, creatively-driven agency doing work in communications planning and strategy, design, advertising, digital, retail, events, social, mobile and     more …

Every day our clients rely on our team to generate results. Therefore, we must make things happen. SMZ will continue to develop strategies, programs and initiatives to meet its desire—the dream if you will—to keep SMZ in the family. To protect, nurture, preserve and grow this company for future generations with a new emphasis on accelerating growth across the state of Michigan.

We are 87 years old—and we’re just getting started.


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