R.I.P. McClain Finlon
When you enter the doors at 2340 Blake Street, you are met by a large wall of exposed brick and a vaulted, glass-capped ceiling where the morning sun, at certain times of the year, hits you squarely in the eye. On that large wall of exposed brick is a massive framed photograph shot by the German filmmaker Wim Wenders. The photograph is of a desolate mountain graveyard. Stark and foreboding in size, the message, it seems, is this: Death is large and unavoidable.
McClain Finlon died yesterday. And we are mourning the loss.
We worked there once. Many of you did, too. The agency lived for 26 years. And it was kept alive all those years by a lot of people now running other agencies in town.
The exact cause of death is not completely clear. We were led to believe earlier this summer that agency president Paul Leroue would be purchasing McClain as Cathey Finlon transitioned out of the business. Apparently, it was not to be. Cathey herself commented here last night, saying the financing for the deal fell through. She is, understandably, ready to move on to the next phase of her career. Rebuilding in this economy would be daunting, if not impossible. We respect Cathey and the mark she made on the advertising and business community in this region. We wish her well.
Creative output at the agency waxed and waned over the years. It’s no secret that in the recent past McClain was buried by Qwest. Qwest allowed for unprecedented growth, making McClain the fastest growing agency in the U.S. in 2006 according to Adweek. It also crippled the agency creatively. When the account moved to draftFCB, Chicago, in December of last year, it left a gaping financial hole and a portfolio of so-so work. That’s not to discount the efforts of the people at McClain. We know they gave the good fight and there were occasional glimmers of hope. But Qwest, as evidenced by the “Get in the Loop” shit sack out there today, gets what they deserve.
In her post, Cathey stated that McClain Finlon will continue on as a small consultancy practice. We don’t know exactly what that means, but we speculate it is a transitional operation as the company closes.
So as the McClain Finlon we know prepares for its final week of operation, we think of the photograph of the graveyard. We imagine it served as a grim omen to those left at McClain in the final months. But we also imagine the sun still shines through the glass overhead. And where there is light there is hope.