I’m proud to say that today is dgs Marketing Engineers’ official 25th anniversary. Looking back to that day in 1986, when we finally incorporated after 6 months of planning, I think about how much has changed and it just blows my mind. I’m a nostalgic person, so for me it’s interesting to reminisce about what things were like at our little agency at that time, and what was going on in the world around us.
As you might expect, the company started small. From a spare bedroom and family room in the lower level of my home, my original partner Dean and I, both still in our 20’s, quit our jobs and set out to conquer the Indianapolis advertising market. His dad pitched in by doing the books, and my wife Cheryl was our go-to person for everything from prepping art boards to getting quotes from vendors to delivering mechanical art to making meals for us when we worked late, which was often. It was an exciting time.
In the mid 1980’s, personal computers were just starting to become viable business tools, so ad agencies did everything manually. Imagine this. We typed all our correspondence and proposals on typewriters, using white out or starting over when we made mistakes (spell check of course wasn’t an option). There were no online stock photographs or images to speak of, so we were constantly directing photo shoots and creating line art or illustrations using pencils, Pantone markers or air brush equipment. Photographs often had to be manually retouched before you could use them. Concepts were always sketched first, and then illustrated with images and hand-written headlines. Production was an art in itself. We had to carefully spec and order type. Brochures, ads, direct mail pieces, and other print projects were prepared on drafting tables; with steps like cutting and pasting type, adding acetate flips or overlays for color, carefully writing production notes in the margins, etc. After that, you had to send the boards off to a color separator or printer to make final film used to make printing plates. These things took a lot more time than they do now, and the process itself lent more of a ‘fine art’ feel to the work we did. In fact, I remember often feeling more sense of accomplishment from looking at the mock-up than the finished piece.
So, what was going on in the world around us at that time? To put it in perspective, here is a small sampling of some interesting things that were going on in 1986 when we opened our doors for business.
- Microsoft has its initial public offering
- IBM produced the first megabit chip
- The first meeting of the Internet Engineers Task Force was held
- The NFL adopted the instant replay rule
- 5’ 7” Spud Web of the Atlanta Hawks won the NBA’s slam dunk competition
- Roger Clemens won baseball’s Cy Young Award and American League MVP awards
- The movie Top Gun premiered
- After a huge promotional blitz, Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s vault on live TV and found nothing
- The Rock-n-roll Hall of Fame held its first induction ceremony. Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis were inducted that year.