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Anvil Employee Interviews
The inside scoop on life at Anvil from past and current employees
by Sid Haddock II

 

David Clanton was a copywriter at KVO when he began writing his "Media Notes" column for Anvil in 1998. He also contributed the regular feature, "This Day in Public Relations History." Clanton left Anvil in 2001 to start the independent e-zine, Pacific Northwest Bride.

Anvil: When you began writing for Anvil, did you ever imagine it becoming such a success?

Clanton: You mean success and failure. It was a roller coaster thing. When it got bought up by Hobby Publications, Inc., that's when I started to get paid, but also they made me write croquet articles for one of their other magazines. Then they started to fold the thing, then Kent took it over again. I could have been making a lot more money at any other organization.

Anvil: You stayed with Anvil through several incarnations. In what ways did it change over the years?

Clanton: In terms of my office space? Well, first it was something I just did in my spare time at KVO, in my office there, then I worked out of my house when it was owned by the hobby people, Derek and them. Then when Kent relaunched there were the new offices.

Anvil: How would you describe that set-up?

Clanton: Too many offices, for one thing. We were told, "Take two offices each," which is weird. One guy used his extra just for his coat. I used my extra office for, you know, like a smoke break. I had a chair in there. Kent had five offices.

Anvil: Did you feel that five offices was excessive?

Clanton: We were all embarrassed for him. But at that time, you know, you couldn't really talk to him. Once I was passing him in the hall, he said, "Just do the Kenneth Coles, not the Rossettis." He thought I was his shoeshine guy, for crissakes!


Elizabeth Nickolopolos was a Graphic Designer at Vivo Media when Anvil was first launched in 1996. She created the first design for the site and stayed with the project until the first edition folded. She was brought back when Anvil went into its fourth edition.

Anvil: How much effort went into the first edition of Anvil?

Nickolopolos: At first it was just, hey Beth, would you put this up for me, I'll buy you a beer. I'd make margins, put a background color on it, like five minutes of work. It was actually good because the work I was doing for clients was really stupid. And also I could do crazy stuff if I wanted. Like once I Xeroxed my ass cheeks, and I know, everybody does that, but I said "Let's put it on the site," and Kent's like, "Okay, cool."

Anvil: It must have been a big change when you rejoined Anvil in 2000.

Nickolopolos: Tell me about it. Kent with the shoes and all, and the six offices or whatever. And there were tons of designers then. I was like the junior designer. But the pay was great, almost twice what I was getting, but don't quote me on that. And the lunchroom with the sushi bar and the air hockey, and the keggers on the heliport. Tons of free stuff.

Anvil: Did you go on the Anvil Las Vegas weekend?

Nickolopolos: Hell yeah! I'm still hungover from that. I wish I could tell you more about it.


 
Tarik Porter was a Web tech at Vivo Media in 1996, and created the framework for the first edition of Anvil. He left Vivo in 1999 to design banner ads for Banners.com, but continued with Anvil through every edition. He is currently the Senior Web Technician for Anvil.

Anvil: What were some of the highs points of your time at Anvil?

Porter: The first couple issues were pretty exciting, just doing it and seeing it online. I was kind of learning on the job at that point, so if the thing didn't just crash, I was pretty damn happy. Then later, whenever it looked as though we were going to get some big investors or something, that was always exciting. And the heyday, as I call it, with the Vegas trip and all. I'm sure you heard about that.

Anvil: Tell me your impressions of the trip.

Porter: Well, I remember seeing Kent at the roulette table with seven blondes. That was amazing. Then at the party, still with the blondes. It was like a wall of blonde. It was like a giant bimbo salad and Kent was the crouton.

Anvil: Other memories of the weekend?

Porter: Yeah. Later, in the suite, I was talking to this guy for a really long time. I think it was Bobby Darin--no, I don't know. Anyway the guy was going on and on about his dogs. And we were playing this crazy drinking game: take a shot of Cuervo every time someone says the word "the." Kent was on the balcony wearing a towel–by now all the blondes were gone–and he had his arms in the air, and he's yelling down to the street. He yells, "I own this fuckin' town!!" Which seemed funny considering how much money he'd lost at the tables. Anyway that Vegas trip was kind of a turning point for him.

Anvil: A turning point in terms of the business?

Porter: No, I mean psychologically. Like the video thing he put in his office. He had Ocean's Eleven, the original, on a tape loop in his office, and he had it playing 24-7 with the sound off. If you went in there he'd say, "Look at this. There's a lot of wisdom in this." He'd make you watch it. Personally, I think Robin and the Seven Hoods is a better picture.

Anvil: So he brought a Vegas theme to the office?

Porter: Right. And the ceiling, too. He had the ceiling in his main office painted light blue with clouds, like in the underground tunnels that connect the casinos. So you'd be in his office trying to talk business and he'd look at the ceiling and say, "God! What a beautiful day!" There was kind of a disconnect there. But I figured, hey, business is good.


Adam Greenblatt was a Project Manager at Sun Microsystems when he was recruited by Anvil in the spring of 2000. He is currently Anvil's Senior Vice President for Branding and Co-promotion.

What was your first impression of the Anvil operation?

Greenblatt: I had just been hired, I mean just, and they told me, "Oh, and we're all going to Las Vegas to celebrate the quarter." Oh, okay. I didn't even really know anybody but I went–well, it was sort of required. And they had a big room at the MGM, like a big party room, a ballroom, and they had Three Dog Night playing. You know them, "Joy to the World"? Oh, and The Village People! I mean, who gets The Village People to play at their party?! That was hilarious. I remember people were spelling out YMCA with their arms…then it's a blank screen. Then I'm in a hot tub with, I think, Paul Anka. Then it's the next day and I'm on the plane with my forehead against the window.

Anvil: Did the festive atmosphere continue back at the office?

Greenblatt: Oh yeah, it was a lot of fun. We felt like we could do no wrong. Business was great. And then it was like, uh-oh, something's happening here. No more flowers in the lobby, no ice in the urinals, no "Chair Massage Wednesday." Little things at first. Then people. They started laying off people almost as fast as they hired them. Office supplies were disappearing like crazy.

Anvil: Did you look to Kent for leadership at this difficult time?

Greenblatt: Kent was a blur. Literally. When he came in, he would actually run from the elevator to his office and lock the door. He didn't seem to have that glow anymore, you know? You could tell he was getting his clothes at The Gap.


Hired in August 2001, Annie Fitzsimmons is Anvil’s director of co-marketing and special promotions. Prior to her current position, Annie was a member of Anvil’s infamous 1997 broadcast and promotions team, producing "Save Your Stupid Face" and "Anvil Smashes Puppies." Both programs won rave reviews with USA Today and Entertainment Week.

Anvil: Why did you leave Anvil, originally?

Fitzsimmons: I didn’t really leave Anvil. It was a legal thing, you know. I spent a little time in jail, and then the PETA people kidnapped my nana.

Anvil: What was it like working for Anvil Broadcast and do you think it’ll ever come back?

Fitzsimmons: Anvil broadcast was amazing! We used to get away with murder. Well, not really, but that just goes back to the PETA thing. We’d go up to Kent’s office and say crazy things, like, "we’re going to go shoot an exposé on teens and club drugs," and Kent would give us his corporate card. It was nuts. We’d load up the van with cameras and Doritos and go clubbing all night long, interviewing people in between cuts of Prodigy and Depeche Mode. One of our photographers, Eddie Stecklein, he’d usually take off to a dark corner and then come back to shut the camera down before we’d leave. I think he got more nookie that night than any other time in his life.

Anvil: Alrighty then. What about Anvil Broadcast ever coming back?

Fitzsimmons: Yeah, the $15 question. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to get an FCC license again. Once you screw up, it’s really hard to get another one. But with broadband on the horizon, I think Kent wants to do live Webcasts and serve up pre-recorded MPEG segments. That’s fine by us, because we can finally edit some of this stuff down. Hell, we can probably recycle half the content, too, minus the marketing fluff. Most of the vices and issues we covered were far from timely. I really want to release the first season of "Save Your Stupid Face" on DVD. I think Kent’s game for it, too, as long as we get the case closed before it hits the shelves. Should be easy.

Anvil: What’s your impression on Anvil now as compared to Anvil then?

Fitzsimmons: No doubt in my mind that Kent has matured a bit, just as the pub has. I haven’t seen him wearing his red chaps in years and when’s the last time you saw a set of ass cheeks on the front page? He sold off the BMW and takes the bus to work. The Web team doesn’t have go-go cages in their offices any more and all the admins seem like nice girls. I think one of them is even straight. I can’t say it’s better, but it’s definitely easier, quieter and more focused. Kent listens to NPR all day and the writers don’t spend as much time on the fire escape as they used to. One question from me: what the hell happened to the fish tank full of livers? Who would take that?