Yes, Wexley School for Girls is an ad agency. It is an independently owned company of 31 people based in Seattle Washington, founded 8 years ago by Ian Cohen and Cal McAllister. They, though, would prefer to call it a Fan Factory. Wexley’s purpose is to turn consumers into fans by creating experiences that interest and engage them over time.
Wexley School for Girls has also been turning the advertising business upside down. The agency is revered by their clients-- (from giants like Microsoft, Nike, Coke to local brands like pro-soccer team, The Seattle Sounders)-- for creating one-of-a-kind, breakthrough work in web, print, video, social and guerilla marketing.
In fact, Ian Cohen was asked in an interview last year what his criteria are for creating a guerilla marketing campaign. His answer typifies the Wexley ethos--fast-thinking, often comical, but grounded in a new set of business fundamentals: “Is it legal? Is it going to work? Is it going to be memorable? Is it going to be press worthy or talked about? Will there be real gorillas?”
Call it making magic or taking risks, but “Headmasters” Cohen and McAllister are at the forefront of understanding how both advertising engagement and customer relationships have changed… forever. They’d probably say that they’re just figuring out a way to get into people's heads and under their skin while delivering a little street cred for brands. Their sweet spot is helping to connect with a generation that’s generally unreceptive to the promises of big business and big brands.
The Wexley duo knows that getting people to identify with a brand or an idea—to become a fan-- promises longer-term dividends than the short-term rewards of an immediate sale. Not only do they work to cultivate deep fan appreciation, but they take painstaking efforts to insure that the relationship remains authentic.
Prior to starting Wexley School for Girls, Ian Cohen worked at Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, while his good friend Cal was at Publicis.
Oh the name… Ian Cohen has reported that could evolve from one of three stories: 1.) He and Cal were just two guys who always wanted to get into a girl’s school; 2.) They named it after a group of cantaloupe farming nuns from Wexleyshire, England who believed in holistic farming; 3.) They made it up and added the School for Girls part as a double dog dare.