AdForum Exclusive: An Interview with Andrew Golomb, Founder and Executive Creative Director at Our Man In Havana

AdForum sits down with Our Man In Havana's Founder and Executive Creative Director, Andrew Golomb to discuss the agency's unique ethos and way of approaching new projects.

AdForum: OMIH describes itself as “lean and mean”. Why is OMIH’s size an advantage for brands and clients?

Andrew: Our goal has always been to be big enough to work with the size and type of clients we want, but small enough so that the way we work isn’t dictated or heavily influenced by the finance department. So all of our clients, regardless of their budget, get the A team, and we’re nimble enough to pivot and scale as needed.

AdForum: OMIH works with a diverse range of clients- from hospitality to health and wellness.  Why does OMIH have such a wide client range as opposed to specializing?

Andrew: There have been times throughout the years where we’ve talked about specializing. We work with a bunch of clients in hospitality, wine & spirits, and media, so we have considered all three as areas we COULD specialialize in. But we’ve found that it’s really more critical to have a depth of knowledge in culture and how consumers think than a speciality in any one industry.  Plus- we’re able to leverage our knowledge from one category when thinking about others.

AdForum: What is the typical process for OMIH when approaching new projects?

Andrew: We don’t have a trademarked process with a fancy name, but we do try to blend art & science. Typically we look for key brand insights as well as consumer, competitive and cultural ones. Then we put them all into the supercollider and the magic happens! The best creative is born out of a powerful insight that when properly executed people say “oh that’s so true.”

AdForum: In your opinion, what is needed for advertising agencies to stay relevant to their clients when they are tempted to explore less traditional ad formats?

Andrew: The biggest challenge advertising agencies face is getting and keeping great talent. As the challenges to the ad industry continue to grow, advertising itself stands to get less and less interesting and thus, less attractive as an industry for the most creative talent out there. This will then be a vicious cycle. We’ve seen the same thing happen in finance: the top minds that used to flock to the big finance firms are now more interested in companies with a purpose beyond just making money. The nemesis for ad agencies is the world of content that can be a far more fertile creative outlet and can, in some cases, fill the “purpose” void ad agencies struggle with. We’ve really tried to build OMIH by being a company that puts integrity and humanity first, and by creating an environment where people can expand their role or chart a different course without having to leave the agency—which might explain why our employee turnover rate is remarkably low.

AdForum: How would you describe OMIH’s culture and it’s brand?

Andrew: Trust. It really sums it all up. Internally, I think we all feel like we have each other’s back, and trust that each of us will get the job done and make sure it’s the best it can be. And clients really do look at us as a trusted ally. Once you’ve worked with us you realize, we’re going to put 200% effort into the work to make sure it’s great, with no drama. And that we are not driven by milking as much money as we can out of their pockets. We actually give a shit about the success of what we do for clients—sounds simple but it’s how we’ve earned their trust.

AdForum: Considering the amount of growth you’ve had in the past few years, it only seems right to ask: What’s next for OMIH?

Andrew: We’re really at an inflection point that’s pretty exciting. We’ve always been game to take on any kind of project that found its way to us, but now we’re going to focus on specific areas and types of work where we can add maximum value. We’re particularly good at understanding the vibe of brands quickly and see ourselves like a “Seal Team 6” that can come in, put together a rock-solid strategy and tactically execute swiftly! The plan is to push the business towards this expertise and put aside all the shenanigans about digital this or social media that….I’d like to diminish platforms to just that, and focus on meaningful ways to make a difference. Plus, we’re about to move to our new office in DUMBO, Brooklyn which we’re all thrilled about. Finally, we’ll be in a neighborhood we all really like, and we’re designing the space to specifically accommodate how we want to approach work and think about things in more inspired ways.