In 2009 – after seven years in Michigan – Mark Lantz left McCann Erickson, where he’d been Chief Strategy Officer, with the intention of taking a year off. That didn’t work out.
Instead, folks he’d met during his four years building the Pure Michigan brand were kind enough to ask his help with their brand strategy. Without meaning to, he had a consultancy (The Mark Lantz Project) focused on what he called “good karma marketers” – nonprofits and regional destination brands across Michigan.
Genesee County Parks. Northern Initiatives. The Great Waters. Davenport University. The Wilds Of Michigan. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The Mounds Off Road Vehicle Park. Welcoming Michigan. The Big 400. Les Cheneaux. The Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan. Flint & Genesee.
These were marketers that couldn’t solve marketing problems through budget alone. But with some hard work and a big idea, they could attract more than their fair share of attention. Over time, helping out with brand strategy became helping out with brand identity became helping out with advertising. Designing logos. Writing ads. Producing commercials.
In 2012, he began working with First Citizens Bank in Raleigh, North Carolina.
This was a different kind of bank from most. Over 400 branches in 17 states and the District of Columbia. More than a 100 years old and still controlled by the family that founded it. Solid middle American values that connected in particular to small and medium size companies, entrepreneurs and family businesses.
One thing led to another. In March 2013, Mark called Greg Sieck and said, “Want to start an agency?” The answer was yes and in April they did. Space was rented. People were hired. Desks, chairs and computers were purchased (a cornhole game, too).
And on September 20, our inaugural work for First Citizens Bank was launched under the brand line, “Forever First.”
And that’s how Factory was born.
Since then, we’ve expanded our relationship with First Citizens Bank, taking on their Wealth Management group and handling advertising for mergers with two other regional banks. We’ve done work for online campus bookstore TextbookRush.com. And we’ve begun working with the Genesee County Parks – Michigan’s largest and most diverse county park system – on their communication.