The young, bespectacled man removed the cigarette from his mouth and let out an evil-sounding cackle. Captured on black and white film, he showed off a button, a cigarette pack and a poster – the latter urging viewers to “Stay vigilant.”
Employees of McMillan & Associates at the 2010 Employees' Choice Awards. (Photo by Mark Holleron)
His stated aim in the advertisement is to do the best for his customer, which just so happens to be the same as that of the film’s creator, McMillan & Associates.
That customer- and employee-focused approach garnered the marketing firm’s third Employees’ Choice Award this year.
“We had a couple of tough years with the economy, so to have the staff choose us with the award just blew us away,” said Nancy Henry, McMillan’s vice- president of finance and operations.
“I was surprised that we got it, because it was such a rough year.”
Like many companies, the firm let go of several employees at the height of the economic crunch in 2009. Since then, the company hasn’t been in a position to hire anyone back – creating a timing and staff challenge for the 15-year-old firm.
“By this summer, my fear, and senior management’s fear, was ‘we’ve been doing this for a year, guys. What should we do?’”
Their step then, as always, was to solicit feedback from employees. Besides participating in the ECA, the firm hired independent companies to survey its workforce and also held weekly meetings where different groups from the company come together to discuss strategy.
McMillan’s eye is on international markets in the years to come, a big step for the medium-sized company.
But she says that in the end, it all comes down to the strength of the company’s employees.
“In the creative business, (feedback) is so important to what we do,” Ms. Henry said.
“Our rules and regulations have to be changed slightly, almost continuously, to meet the demands of our clients.
“And those employees who know how to do that are on the front line.”