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Huntington advertising agency barks in new office space

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Chris Michael opened Bulldog Creative Services in 1999. Chris Michael opened Bulldog Creative Services in 1999.

For The State Journal

When Chris Michael founded Bulldog Creative Services in 1999, he came up with a slogan the Huntington advertising and design firm still uses: "Small dog. Big bite."

But these days Bulldog Creative might want to think about changing its slogan. Truth is, Bulldog is not so small anymore. Since its modest start with a handful of staff members, the agency has grown steadily. Today, it has 15 employees, a whole shelf of industry awards and a lengthy list of clients that reads like a virtual Who's Who of regional businesses, along with some national clients as well.

And the agency has just completed its move from its long-time rented offices in downtown Huntington's historic Hines Building at 916 5th Avenue to a newly remodeled building all its own.

Even after spreading its staff over two floors, Bulldog simply no longer had enough room to operate. Now, the firm has set up shop in its own building at 1400 Commerce Ave. 

"The building had been vacant and neglected for years," Michael said. "So we essentially gutted it and started over." 

The result: 6,000 square feet of space, compared with the 2,600 square feet the firm had in the Hines Building. 

Michael originally came to Huntington to work for a national company. When he and that company parted ways, he received another job offer. The new job would have taken him back to his native Indiana. Instead, he took a huge gamble and opened his own business. He named his new venture Bulldog. Michael says the choice of the agency's name was more than just whimsy.

"Bulldogs are loyal, committed and tenacious and everything you want in a dog," he said. "A lot of the characteristics of bulldogs are things that parlay in how we work around here — loyalty, committed, creative."

Bulldog's current client roster includes First Sentry Bank, Marshall University athletics, Bloss & Dillard Insurance Managers Inc., Huntington Internal Medicine Group, the Huddleston Bolen law firm, St. Mary's Medical Center, Mountwest Community & Technical College, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and others.

"We have been very fortunate to experience growth in a difficult time," Michael said. "Not only have we expanded our client list, we keep venturing in new directions. 

"Our clients are demanding it and we're responding to those demands."

He notes that a few years ago only a few clients were asking about advertising on the internet. 

"Now online advertising has become so commonplace it's almost looked on as traditional," he said. 

And clients expect it.

"The advent of social media, combined with online platforms, has opened new doors for our clients and us in how we can help them communicate with their targets," said Brittany Brownfield, senior account executive at Bulldog. "Online is one of the most powerful media vehicles available and should be a cornerstone in a company's marketing efforts." 

Michael also notes the firm has grown with the addition of in-house high-definition video production. Early in 2013, an investment was made in video and editing equipment and the company has experienced success in this arena. 

Craig Davis, producer for the agency, joined the team in early 2013 after nearly 25 years in video production. 

"We've hit the ground running in the production realm," Davis said. "It was a natural progression for the team here at Bulldog, and our clients have embraced our new capabilities." 

The new headquarters for Bulldog includes a separate video production suite complete with client lounge and studio space.

Michael says there's no big secret to the company's success. 

"We listen. We work. We perform," he said. "We understand that different clients have different needs, resources and levels of expertise. We don't believe in ‘cookie cutter' solutions to unique challenges. 

"We work under the assumption that no one knows the business better than the client and it's our job to capitalize on that. Our job is to manufacture success for our clients."