Friday, May 30, 2008

Jones, Vladimir Jones - it's for real

Praco is no longer the largest, most successful advertising agency in Colorado Springs.

It’s now Vladimir Jones.

Who, or what, is that?

After 38 years, Praco is changing its name. And it’s changing it to Jones, Vladimir Jones.

Praco founder and CEO Nechie Hall and other agency officials could not be reached on Friday.

In a press release, which was scheduled to be delivered on Monday, June 2, Hall said “I felt strongly that it was time to make some mammoth changes, including moving on from the 38-year-old name that we chose when we founded the company.”

The press release said the name change was part of a change in corporate philosophy aimed at staying relevant and fresh.

Hall started Praco, short for Public Relations and Advertising Co., in 1970 with her husband, Jim. From a mom-and-pop operation, the company has grown to become one of the largest advertising companies in the state, with nearly 80 employees and $53.5 million in billings in 2007.

Praco’s competitors and clients, were surprised by the change. Shocked might not be too strong a word.

“I think it’s a bold move and whatever the reason is, we certainly hope the best for them,” said Bernard Sandoval, owner of Sandia, an advertising and marketing firm.

“Nechie doesn’t do anything unless she feels it’s strategically correct,” said Tom DeNardin, owner of Allegory Marketing. “I can tell you, if they’re changing it, they’re not doing it off a whim.”

Experience Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak, the convention and visitors bureau, contracts with Praco for its print advertising and will spend $600,000 with the agency this year. Lisa Amend, Experience’s public relations manager, said she had received mysterious e-mails and postcards from “Vladimir Jones” promising an announcement on June 2, but didn’t know about the connection to Praco.

“Praco has always been a name to be reckoned with in Colorado Springs,” Amend said. “Since the agency has such longevity and community respect, we will be excited to see how it will evolve under the new identity.”

The change has evidently been in the works for some time. The press release said employees were told about the change on May 16 and given a booklet dubbed “The Tao of Vladimir Jones,” which includes nuggets of wisdom such as, “Don’t do anything without understanding why.”

The Internet domain name vladimirjones.comwas registered with on March 19. On Friday, the Web site led to a placeholder page that said only, “If you have an exciting mind, the circus never leaves town.”

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