Advertising, Marketing & PR

Published: May 29, 2020 | Updated: May 29, 2020

Vinnie’s new venture launches with slogan ‘If you wanna make bread, you knead Dough.’

Vinnie Romano, Founder and Director, Dough.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Vinnie Romano doesn’t mince his words.

The current advertising industry model for getting new business is broken, he says.

Except Vinnie chooses to use a more direct word for ‘broken’.

He said: “The problem is that agency owners seldom think about the long-term when it comes to new business.

“It’s all short-term.

“I understand that because I, too, have done the same.

“You have cashflow to maintain and jobs to keep but constantly chasing the next deal just doesn’t work in the long-term.

“You dedicate time, resources and money to be part of the pitch process.

“You’re one of four or five agencies, all sharing their ideas for free on spec.

“If you do win, the client then chooses your agency’s idea, probably on price, and then says they’d like to use or merge your idea with one of the others they saw.

“You start off on the wrong foot and from a position of powerlessness.

“The simple truth is not enough is done to build insight-led relationships or drive conversations with education and trust from the start.”

His solution?

Vinnie, 33, has just launched Dough. with the slogan ‘If you wanna make bread, you knead Dough.’.

He said: “Dough. brings your team, your tech and your story together.

“The aim is to stand out from the crowd and generate insight-led conversations and build relationships with new and existing clients at every level, but, crucially, on your terms.

“We do that by assessing and transitioning agencies to a modern, optimised and automated business to business (B2B) operating model.

“The model enables agencies to strategically acquire and develop more client business, better.”

Time will tell whether Dough. rises to the challenge.

But Vinnie can point to a successful track record in the advertising industry, not least building an agency, Frizbee, employing 15 people with sales of £2.5m at its height.

In fact, it’s fair to say that he’s packed quite a lot into his 33 years.

The son of professional dancers – his father also choreographed and delivered the Royal Variety Performance in front of The Queen on three occasions – his first proper advertising job was 11 years ago with Publicis London.

But it was four years later when he was made redundant from another London ad agency that his career – and life – took a new, and ultimately successful, turn.

Vinnie said: “It was cold, windy and wet that day.

“I was 26 and returned home in the middle of the day where I was still living with Mum.

“I went up to my bedroom, looked on LinkedIn and noticed people in my network from London emigrating and securing jobs in agencies in Australia. It was clear there was quite a marketplace.

“Four hours later I’d booked my flight – a one-way ticket – to Australia on a working holiday visa.”

Thanks to the help of some skilled headhunters Vinnie arrived Down Under with interviews lined up with two top agencies.

He was offered jobs at both but chose Clemenger BBDO.

And so began his advertising career in Sydney which – two years later in 2015 – led to him founding Frizbee, a B2B content creation/marketing automation agency.

Why the name Frizbee?

Vinnie said: “I wanted a name that was true to our offering: to connect brands with customers through moments.

“It was a joke my dad used to make while sitting around the Christmas tree every year.

“A present would be handed to him and, whatever the shape of the gift, he’d shake it next to his ear and claim it was a frisbee.

“This nostalgic moment, and therefore the word frisbee, stayed with me as a moment I’ll never forget, of a happier more simple time.”

In February this year Vinnie, who had stepped away as Frizbee’s Managing Director in 2019 to become a Business Development Consultant, flew back to Bournemouth from Sydney.

His Mum, Bobbie, who was suffering from cancer, had been given just months to live.

Instead she was cruelly taken away just days after Vinnie returned.

He said: “Mum woke up out of a coma-like state when I said to her: ‘You better not die on my birthday.

“She said ’33, 33’ – my age – so it was clear she knew it was my birthday.

“She died the following day.”

Since his return Vinnie has hit the ground running, becoming a key player on the local networking scene and raising his profile by recording podcasts and establishing links with Bournemouth University.

While it’s a challenging time to start a new business, he’s convinced he’s onto a winner.

“Things have got to change and the advertising industry has to carve out a new future.

“I’m convinced Dough. is that future,” he said.