January 2017

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Cincinnati Advertising Agency Looks Back On First of Many Success Stories

Celebrating 80 Years of Client Success Stories • 1937-2017 •  Blog 1 of 12

Before Holland Advertising: Interactive was known as the oldest family-run advertising agency in the United States, it was only a dream. Bill Holland, with a deep love for the business, had always wanted to start his own advertising agency in Cincinnati but was already living a comfortable life selling radio spots for WCKY. However, in 1937, that all started to change—Bill’s commissions had suddenly been cut when he started to make more money than his sales manager at WCKY. Frustrated by his management, Bill decided to take a risk and left his job. He was going to turn his dream into a reality.

Shortly after leaving WCKY, Bill started his own advertising agency in Cincinnati and named it the William F. Holland Company. His advertising agency had several accounts, but its first great success came when Bill identified a serious fire problem not only costing home and business owners their possessions and money but sadly, their lives as well. Determined to do something about it, Bill Holland wrote and produced a radio program titled Firefighters.

 Bill, and his Cincinnati advertising agency, wrote and directed 140 episodes for Firefighters and then produced them at an NBC Recording Division in New York City. The Firefighters story followed the heroic adventures of the rookie firefighter, Tim Collins, who completed firefighter training after returning from World War II. Each episode focused on a particular fire emergency Tim and his fellow firefighters had to face. At the end of each episode the character, Fire Chief Bob Cody (portrayed by future Tony Award Nominee Cameron Prud’Homme) spoke to listeners directly about fire safety.

 As the nation’s first fire safety public service program, Firefighters was designed to teach fire prevention and good citizenship through dramatized stories of real fires. In addition, young listeners across the country were encouraged to practice fire safety by joining the Junior Firefighters Kids Club. Bill and his Cincinnati advertising agency were even able to get the radio program syndicated in over 225 markets and outranked national network radio shows like Lone Ranger and Sky King in Cincinnati. Its success even coined the term “firefighters” to be used in place of “firemen.”

However, the Cincinnati advertising agency’s success wasn’t truly felt until it had received a letter from Cincinnati Fire Chief Barney Houston in 1949. The letter commended William F. Holland Company for Firefighters because Chief Houston believed the radio program was directly responsible for a 20% reduction in false alarms. Additionally, Chief Houston noted his Fire Inspectors found the removal of common fire hazards in homes of Junior Firefighters. This small bit of information was confirmation for Bill that his Cincinnati advertising agency made a difference. The nation had become a safer place.

To this day, Firefighters is considered an important contribution to public fire safety awareness around the country, and the Cincinnati advertising agency is still doing its part to spread the message of fire safety through continued marketing efforts. The William F. Holland Company is now known as Holland Advertising: Interactive and Bill’s grandsons, Mark and Bryan, are now partners in the business. Together, they are leading the charge in helping the Cincinnati Fire Museum by developing a new brand and other marketing strategies. Mark serves on the Cincinnati Fire Museum Board of Directors and shares a common goal with his brother to educate museum-goers about fire safety. Part of this goal was reached when Holland Advertising: Interactive recently launched the new Cincinnati Fire Museum website, completing Phase 1 of an improved online presence. The Holland Brothers also plan to continue their efforts through an exciting and interactive experience found in a Cincinnati Fire Museum App that is still in development.

To learn more on how our family-run advertising agency in Cincinnati has achieved fresh ideas, experienced execution, and greater ROI with our clients for 80 years then subscribe to our blog. We’ll be celebrating 80 years of client success stories throughout the year by sharing pieces of history like Firefighters each month.

Would you like to become one of our many client success stories? Contact Bryan Holland at 513.744.3001, or email him at bholland@hollandadvertising.com.