Looking Back 40 Years
By Robert Pou
1981 was an interesting year. Roger Federer was born. As was Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Eli Manning, and Beyoncé.
Also born that year was a two-person marketing firm, Gremillion & Pou Advertising. The company name is not quite as notable as those above, not to mention, difficult to spell and even harder to pronounce. Still, it was in 1981 that my partner Anne Gremillion and I proudly opened our doors, beginning a 40-year history of marketing savvy, creativity, and a results-driven culture that is the foundation of our company today, now named Romph & Pou Agency.
Yes, the new name is equally difficult to spell and pronounce, but my new partner Jeffrey Romph has a vision for growth and an appetite for efficiencies that has propelled us to an agency of over 100 employees, clients across every time zone of the US, and offices in four cities.
Much has changed in the world since our humble beginnings; some good, some not so good. I know everything seems pretty dire in the world these days, but bad things were happening back then too. I looked it up. (Wikipedia is a lot easier than Encyclopedia—one of the good changes.)
Some rough moments in 1981 included both the president of the United States and Pope John Paul II being shot in attempted assassinations. Incidentally, John Hinckley, who shot President Ronald Reagan, was just given his unconditional release 40 years later. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated. Use of crack cocaine in the United States became a thing, and the very first recognized cases of AIDS were discovered.
These stories were all over the news back then, but the news wasn’t yet 24/7 on our computers and buzzing in our pockets on our mobile phones…because there were no computers or mobile phones! We heard the news on the radio (not satellite) driving to work or on television when we were at home.
Navigating the production of print ads, and radio and TV commercials back in the pre-computer days – back when I believed the fax machine was magical – is an interesting story for another time, but the technological advances since 1981 and how it impacts the advertising and marketing industry is certainly a fantastic change in our lives. (The jury is still out on social media.)
Another difference is we didn’t seem to focus so much on the bad stuff. As is the case every year, there were lots of good things that happened in 1981 that we all celebrated. Like Iran releasing 52 Americans that were held hostage for 444 days. The Space Shuttle launch Columbia, which was the first named reusable spacecraft to return to earth. That was a big deal back then.
Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States. Lady Diana and Prince Charles were married with a worldwide television audience of more than 750 million people. Another highly anticipated wedding that year was Luke and Laura on the soap opera General Hospital. Not quite as many people watched, but it is still the highest-rated hour in daytime television history. Commercial advertising time was sold out for months. Do we still even have soap operas?
MTV, Donkey Kong, and paintball were also launched in the United States in 1981, but I honestly can’t decide if they belong in the good or bad news category.
1981 was an interesting and impactful year, but so were the 39 years that followed. Each year has provided opportunities, challenges, and amazing stories. Looking back on the growth of the company, not to mention all of the wonderful relationships built along the way, I am truly thankful for every single year.
And upon reflection I can say this about change; whether good or bad, it is always coming right around the corner. But whatever change life has in store for us, we will figure out how to adapt. We always do.