The Anti-Mad Men of Marketing: Interview with Paul Costello of Agency 180

by / ⠀Entrepreneur Interviews Entrepreneurship / October 30, 2013

Paul Costello Picture

Interview with Paul Costello about starting his business Agency 180.

Hiscox-Small-Business-Insurance-Logo-600This is part eight of the ten part series. Follow the Starting a Business as a Young Entrepreneur interview series and don’t miss an interview! 

Interview Series Sponsored by Hiscox Small Business Insurance.  Hiscox  specializes in protecting IT/technology, marketing, consulting, health and beauty, photography and many other professional services businesses, tailoring coverage to the  specific risks in your industry.

Corporate marketing has progressed significantly since the 1960’s era portrayed by AMC’s Mad Men.  There was no Facebook or email marketing even a couple of decades ago.  Despite the change in marketing and technology, Agency 180 founder and CEO Paul Costello admits that there are still many Don Drapers in the industry, but you won’t find many at his agency.

Agency 180 is a database marketing agency, which Paul refers to as, “The smallest big agency you’ll find.” He described what they offer as, “Big agency thinking without the big agency price tag and big agency inflexibility.”  “Other companies serve up what they are selling (email, web media, printing, etc) as the right fit instead of finding it.” Paul calls his clients partners due to the nature of their relationship and working with them to find the right solution instead of just telling them what they think will work.

“The Don Draper’s of the world that will come in and compete in pitches…promise the moon and (don’t) deliver.  I can’t tell you how many times we got the call 4-5 months later when things have fallen apart.”

Paul Costello started as an entrepreneur at an early age.  After conquering the standard lemonade stand, Paul started a small magic company. Paul performed with a friend as a magician in 7th grade at birthday parties.  He did all of his own marketing, joined the Society of American Magicians and was asked to teach magic in Boston.

Even with his background in magic, Agency 180 didn’t appear out of thin air.  Paul started the agency  while finishing his MBA at Babson College.  Having experience in marketing while working for Digitas, he knew there was a better way to provide marketing services.  By filling that gap, his agency has been able to land large clients including CVS, Cigna Healthcare, PODS, and Gillette.

Paul stated that his agency does lose some jobs due to the Don Drapers of the world, but their niche in the industry has kept them growing beyond their capacity.  Due to focusing on the needs of their clients, Agency 180 turns down projects on a regular basis to make sure they are not over extended and can spend the time and care necessary to deliver what was promised to their clients.

Although there’s always a place for Don Draper – Agency 180 isn’t one of them.

Extra! Extra! Hear all about it.  Listen to the full interview with Paul Costello below!

Interview Highlights

– One thing Paul wants to accomplish in his career: open an office in Ireland.

– What’s the best way that you can protect your business?  “Hiring good people.” Paul also mentioned, “Start early with administrative process.”

– The advantages and disadvantages of being a young entrepreneur.

– How a young entrepreneurial-minded person can run into trouble if approaching entrepreneurship with a sense of entitlement.

– Being a young entrepreneur: “It’s a great road, but a very bumpy road.”

– Best piece of advice for people under the age of 30:  “I’ve become a big believer in saying yes to things.”  Paul figured out what he didn’t want to do, which lead him to what he did want to do.

*Don Draper is the leading character of Mad Men, played by actor Jon Hamm.  Draper is an arrogant womanizer who is an incredible salesman when pitching his marketing ideas to the major brands of his era, regardless of if it will benefit the company.  He’s in it for the sale.

Listen to the full interview here:


About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.