TOUGH AS NAILS: Founded in 1998, Nail has garnered accolades for its work with Mike & Ike, The Providence Journal and the Rhode Island Food Bank. Pictured above is Nail’s leadership team, which includes, from left: Creative Partner Alec Beckett, Managing Partner Jeremy Crisp and Creative Partner Brian Goss.
PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
When work is this much fun, can it really be called work at all? The trio leading Nail, a Providence communications agency, have spent, collectively, the last 14 years making sure the laughs keep coming while the work keeps them busy.
“We’re very aligned in our goal and we do really enjoy what we do,” said Brian Gross, one of Nail’s creative partners and its original founder. “I talk to a lot of people who aren’t and are in our business and they’re just miserable and I can never understand that.”
Alec Beckett, the firm’s other creative partner, had an additional thought on what makes their partnership with Jeremy Crisp, managing partner, a winning existence.
“We don’t hate each other,” Beckett said, with a laugh.
Gross came up with the NAIL concept in the late 1990s after growing frustrated with the conventionality of traditional advertising.
He and Beckett had met while working at Grey Advertising in New York and Gross followed his friend to Boston for a company there that is no longer in business.
But Beckett took off for Los Angeles and Gross started looking for something for something new.
“Grey was where we learned what not to do in advertising,” Gross’ aid. “I felt there was a dearth of agencies in New England and I wanted to do some [more] creative work without moving – work that was unconventional and interesting and would get noticed. That was what was missing in New England.”
He founded Nail in 1998 and talked Beckett into joining him in Providence.
“My wife and I knew we were East Coast people,” Beckett said. “I had a couple of job offers in Boston and an offer at Nail for a fraction of a fraction of [those] salaries and I said [it] would be crazy to go to Nail. So that’s what I decided to do.”
The two had little trouble building their brand into what they wanted.
With little market competition but easy access to Boston and New York, they were able to build a client list that appreciated their form of advertising.
Getting paid for that work was, initially, a different story.
“We somewhat naively believed that if we did great work, everything else would follow,” Beckett said. “But we were so passionate about the work we would often sort of give it away, frankly.”