Reunited Ad Agency Navigates The Digital Age

By David Phelps
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).


Mame O’Meara and Sue Dubbs didn’t much care for each other when they worked as associate media directors at competing Minneapolis ad agencies in the early 1980s.

To clarify: They really did not like one another, especially after their now-gone agencies merged.

But one job-share and 26 years later, the two are back together running a profitable media-buying company called Dubbs & O’Meara that counts the Minnesota Twins, craft brewery Summit Brewing and the Minnesota Zoo as clients.

They have a new office in the suburbs and a third employee they call their “referee” to handle disputes between the two strong-willed partners.

“Clients like that. We have the same skill set but different ideas,” said O’Meara, a Wisconsin native who has lived in the Twin Cities since 1978. “We’ll disagree right in front of a client, but that shows the thought process that is at work.”

At first glance, Dubbs & O’Meara appears old school. It began, after all with two phones, stationery and a calculator for checking rates. It didn’t have its first computer until 1991.

But over time, the practice of placing the right ad in the right medium at the right time has evolved into a science, featuring consumer analytics and metrics and a depth of knowledge about all things digital.

Media buying has gone beyond print and broadcast properties to include social media and things like banner ads on the Internet.

“Digital and social media have not muddied the waters, but they have made the waters flow faster,” said Dubbs, who spent the past six years at CBS radio in Minneapolis on the other side of the media spend, before returning to work with O’Meara earlier this year. “We’re looking at everybody’s (media) assets to determine the best return on the dollar for clients.”

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