Advanced Media Production Firm Seeks Certifications, Growth via GovCon

Terrence Thames (right) at his company’s office in Des Moines.

Terrence Thames wants to play a larger role in his profession and his community.

That’s one of the reasons Thames (at right in photo above) is pressing to grow his small Des Moines advertising agency into a major creative provider for private brands and public organizations around the country.

Advanced Media Production Firm, which does business as Cocoa Creative, began in 2011. The firm provides creative and production strategy for brands, businesses, and government agencies, and its work already has played roles in campaigns involving large brands such as Papa John’s, McDonald’s, and Allstate Insurance.

“Capacity-wise, our agency is about 10 people strong,” Thames said. “But what we want to do is create jobs. We really want to create some economic impact and make a difference in that way.”

Thames hopes that difference will begin to develop with his company’s stepped-up pursuit of government contracts. Advanced Media has been working since last fall with CIRAS and an unaffiliated minority business marketing consultant to obtain several certifications that the company hopes will spark more government work.

“Government agencies need advertising and creative services, as well,” Thames said. “I think we just see this as something that we can do to help them.”

The company previously has worked as a subcontractor for the Kid’s Ride Safe Campaign, a safe driving education campaign funded by Drive Safe Cedar Valley.

“A key part of our strategy is to position ourselves as a very good company to work with as a government contractor,” he said. “We’re still getting better at telling our story to potential partners.”

Among other things, CIRAS has been working to get Advanced Media Production Firm registered as a HUBZone and 8(a) disadvantaged business.

The 8(a) designation refers to federal rules that specifically set aside parts of government contracts for small businesses that are owned predominately by women and/or ethnic minorities.

Advanced Media plans to submit the final paperwork for both designations this spring. Jodi Essex, a government contracting specialist with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Program, said federal rules allow large companies to partner with small ones and access the set-aside work. In exchange, large firms must provide mentoring to their smaller partners.

“The idea is that both companies benefit,” Essex said. “The small companies get advice as they grow, while the large firms get access to a bigger pool of work.”

Thames said Advanced Media already is being pursued by companies interested in mentor-mentee relationships. He’s optimistic that companies will be willing to “test the waters first” by working with Cocoa Creative right now.

“We don’t need to rush,” he said. “Let’s date before we’re married.”

> For more information, contact CIRAS government contracting specialist Jodi Essex at or 515-509-0769.


 A version of this article was published in the Spring 2018 edition of CIRAS News. To read more of that edition or others, please explore elsewhere on our website.