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Source succeeds by changing with the times

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Rothstein and Wasser
Rothstein and Wasser

Started by two guys in a kitchen almost 40 years ago, Hackensack-based Source Communications has become a standout when it comes to being a cutting-edge, disruptive nationwide communications leader.

The No. 1-ranked advertising agency in state capitalized billings in 2016 at $68 million, according to NJBIZ’s “2018 Book of Lists,” there’s really no special sauce when it comes to Source’s success, says Larry Rothstein, president and co-founder of the firm.

“At the end of the day, it’s always about figuring out the best way to motivate the consumer to take some form of action,” Rothstein said. “Whether it's creating a business relationship with a bank, buying a sandwich at Subway or buying a train ticket on Amtrak, Source is always focused on activating a brand. It’s our job to create memorable communications in advertising that ultimately motivate the target audience.”

But to succeed these days, an agency must embrace a mobile, social and digital technologically focused marketplace. Yet it’s still about ideas and the right strategy to meet the client’s objectives.

“You need passionate people who know how to executive against a strategy,” Rothstein said.

“We have always served national brands and clients (and) we haven't just focused our business on the pharma and tech companies in New Jersey,” said Marcia Wasser, Source’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “We have built ourselves up by being specialists in cross category communications. We’re good at many things — B2B, B2C, local companies and national corporations.”

Companies want ad agencies who can do it all under one roof, Rothstein said. Years ago, he pointed out, clients would go to one company for TV and another for print and another for brochures, etc. Now, clients want companies like Source to be one-stop-shops offering creativity, everything digital and perfectly timed execution.

“If you look at the list of top ad agencies from 15 years ago, you’ll notice that 99 percent of those agencies are out of business—they didn't keep up with the changing times,” Rothstein said. “They were too staid in the way they approached the business. They focused on `how it’s always been done’ versus what the emerging marketplace needed. Source has consistently been able to evolve with our clients as the marketplace has changed.”

Source Communications works with approximately 12 to 15 clients at a time. Whether a company is certain of a strategy or is looking for guidance, Rothstein said Source is eager to begin the conversation.

“We are a very collaborative team. We want to hold a brainstorming session and create a strategy the client loves and that we know will work,” he said.

In addition to its local headquarters, Source has offices in Cleveland; San Diego; Washington, D.C.; and Nashville, Tenn.

'Bright' idea

In the Netflix original movie “Bright,” starring Will Smith, aliens from the planet Orc live and work alongside regular Americans.

When Netflix approached the Ultimate Fighting Championship with what seemed like a crazy idea — putting an Orc in the UFC Octagon against a real fighter — UFC turned to Source to make it happen.

UFC signed on as a sponsor to promote “Bright.” The organization agreed to take part in a short film about an ordinary Orc who grows up in the U.S. with a dream to fight in the Octagon.

“We took that challenge, worked with the UFC and Netflix and wrote, produced and directed the ‘Max Carlyle Story,’ Rothstein said. “We created a four-minute movie and 60-second teaser — all filmed in Las Vegas at UFC properties.”

The promo film has been viewed over 3.5 million times.

“In fact, in the first three days after it was released, the film had 11 million views. ‘Bright’ had the best introduction of any original content in Netflix history,” Rothstein said.

“Look, it’s time to face it,” he continued. “The world has changed. The only thing that matters is what the people think. Consumers watched our film and really cared about the Orc. They wanted to see Bright. That’s success.”

Source is in discussions with UFC about creating content for multiple sponsors and is in talks with Netflix about how it can help promote its original programming.

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