In growth mode, Vladimir Jones adding clients, staff

Vladimir Jones, the state’s oldest independently owned ad agency, has been adding clients and staff.

The Colorado Springs-based operation has picked up about 10 new clients since the end of last year, including Applebee’s, Bestway Disposal, Centura Health, the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office and Seven Falls.

Meredith Vaughan, president of Vladimir Jones, said the agency has increased its staff 12 percent, adding eight new jobs, to keep up with all of the new work. It now has 73 employees.

The agency also recently named a new partner, Joe Hodas, whose title is executive vice president of brand communications. Hodas has been with the company since 2009.

“Joe has an amazing ability to channel and strategically design an arsenal of communication methods. He makes media opportunities come to life in an interesting and compelling way,” Vaughan said.

Hodas is now the seventh partner in the firm, which was established in 1970 by Vaughan’s parents, Jim and Nechie Hall.

Vladimir also is working to prepare itself for future business opportunities.

For instance, an “adaptive” position was created for Margaret Ebeling, who was hired this spring as director of emerging brand communications.

Previously, Ebeling was director of marketing for a large investment firm, and she has a strong “cross discipline” approach and a deep understanding of social media and online/digital marketing, Hodas said.

So, the agency hired her rather than someone with a traditional public relations background. Vladimir has already added additional clients as a result of hiring Ebeling and others, Hodas said.

“Communications, as a whole, is changing so rapidly, and the skill sets required to execute it are rapidly changing as well,” Hodas said.

Two of the new positions, senior digital media planner and interactive graphic designer, could previously have been done by others within the company.

“We have a need now for dedicated discipline in those areas,” Hodas said.

That’s because bringing broad awareness of a brand or company, for instance, requires a different strategy than luring people into a retail establishment. And the results of social media and direct-to-consumer efforts cannot be measured in the same way as a mass-media advertising campaign.

“We’re making changes in terms of how we position ourselves to our clients,” Hodas said, “so we continue to be relevant and scalable for their needs.”

Growth plans at Vladimir include working more with a mix of local clients and entrepreneurs, one thing that’s lacking from the agency’s portfolio, Vaughan said.

“I want to be that fulcrum of creativity, and roll that out broadly to the community,” Vaughan said.