Finally, an agency list that shines the spotlight on the rest of the marketing mix. From the editors of Chief Marketer, we present the industry’s only comprehensive list of the best brand engagement and activation agencies across 11 categories and specialties serving the U.S.
During the 12 months beginning in October 2019, this full-service agency racked up nearly 40 honors, including ANDY and ANA Reggie Awards, for its work with Absolut Vodka, Oreo and Sonos, to name just a few. It also landed on the Ad Age A-List for the ninth consecutive year. The shop positioned grocery retailer Kroger on the forefront of AI technology by helping it launch “Chefbot.” People could tweet a photo or list of up to three ingredients they have on hand, and the rather adorable @KrogerChefbot would respond with a recipe to help prevent food waste.
HAS WORKED WITH: 7-Eleven, Advance Auto Parts, CarMax, DSW, McCormick, Shiseido WEBSITE: 360i.com
RFP CONTACT: Neil Smith, [email protected]
This experiential agency put its expertise to good use during the months when live events were on pause, partnering with Ocean Spray and Nature’s Bounty to create #WalkwithPurpose. This virtual charity walk had more than 3,500 participants across the country and funded 100,000 meals for people in need via the Feeding America COVID-19 Response Fund. Ocean Spray was one of three clients Activent Marketing added to its roster in the months prior to the pandemic; others include Best Bar Ever and Butterball. With live events starting to return, the shop executed nearly 30 activations in September and October alone.
HAS WORKED WITH: Big Ten Network/Fox Sports, Land O’ Frost, The Nature’s Bounty Co., Orvis, Puma, Volkswagen of America WEBSITE: activentmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Tom Jacobs, [email protected]
Few sports are as tradition-bound as golf. Yet Advantage Marketing integrated less-traditional marketing media such as social platform and video into campaigns for two golf resorts that yielded impressive returns. Revenue at Lac La Belle was twice its projection, with 70 percent of rounds played directly attributable to its advertising and marketing; Bandon Dunes sold out for 2020 and had already booked 80 percent occupancy for 2021 several months before the start of the year. No wonder the agency grew its client roster 40 percent, with businesses as diverse as Express 24 Cleaners, Santa’s Village and St. Mary’s College coming onboard.
HAS WORKED WITH: ISlide, Pillar Co-Working, Sand Valley, Sanrio, Stance, UC Berkeley WEBSITE: advantagemrkt.com RFP CONTACT: Spencer Hadelman, [email protected]
Experiential may have been quiet these past months, but Advoc8 has spent the time reimagining its brand and its approach to building meaningful experiences. It worked with clients to understand the challenges and identify new outcomes and deliverables, like taking content from offline to online, creating branded merchandise and more. The Washington, D.C.-based agency exploded with 208 percent growth in 2019, primarily with brands and associations in the social impact space. And a new company-wide roadmap, developed in 2020, is a surefire guide to further expansion.
HAS WORKED WITH: Axios/Boeing, CNN, Events DC, Google, YouTube WEBSITE: advoc8.com RFP CONTACT: Team Advoc8, [email protected]
In response to macro trends and economic shifts—COVID-19, anyone?—this full-service brand experience agency introduced two sister divisions in October 2020: branding house Storyhorse and broadcast content specialist Studio Sage. Even so, Agency EA continues to pride itself on creating sophisticated, logistically complex events both in-person and online. One such project was Caterpillar’s 70,000-square-foot Operator Stadium at the 2020 CONEXPO-CON/AGG, North America’s largest construction trade show. This included the Global Operator Challenge Finals featuring nine machine operators chosen from more than 10,000 contestants from 30 countries. The five-day event attracted 320,000 livestream views, and Caterpillar was featured in 40 percent of the expo’s social activity.
HAS WORKED WITH: DoorDash, Google, Molson Coors, Nike, Obama Foundation, Samsung WEBSITE: agencyea.com RFP CONTACT: Lucy Stratton, [email protected]
AKQA creates experiences for brands through design, engaging narratives and technology. Take a sustainability-focused campaign it cooked up for H&M this year. The brand’s garment-to-garment machine, located in Stockholm and dubbed “Looop,” let customers turn old garments into new, ready-to-wear designs—and then watch them being created. For Oakley, the agency created a musical reinterpretation of Bob Marley’s “One Love” to celebrate the love of sports. The song’s lyrics were co-written by professional athletes and released on major streaming services. AKQA’s work can be seen across the globe. Netflix’s first global branding campaign, for instance, which highlights clips and imagery from more than 50 of the platform’s originals, showcases the power to shift perceptions and build empathy.
HAS WORKED WITH: Coca-Cola, H&M, Netflix, Nike, Oakley, Siemens WEBSITE: akqa.com
RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
One might say Altitude Marketing went to the dogs this year—albeit in the best way possible. Among its new clients was Alphia, a recent amalgamation of three premium pet-food manufacturers; Altitude led its visual rebranding, communications, and launch strategy, which encompassed everything from a new website to media outreach. It provided similar assets for another new client, identity-verification solutions provider Veratad. Also during the past year Altitude became one of just seven charter members worldwide of the Zapier agency program so that it can help its clients, who are primarily in the high-tech, life science and manufacturing sectors, automate repeatable processes in web applications.
HAS WORKED WITH: Alphia, Firma Clinical Research, Forney, Hedge Trackers, Veratad Technologies, Vizinex RFID WEBSITE: altitudemarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Louis Holzman, [email protected]
It may have celebrated its 25th anniversary this year, but AMP Agency remains in growth mode, gaining Chiquita and Zillow, among others, as clients. Its Color & Capital for Good campaign for Eastern Bank, which enlisted business leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs to help Boston’s Black and Latinx communities close the racial wealth gap, earned nine million paid media impressions and more than four million video views, exceeding campaign benchmarks by more than 300 percent. The campaign also won one gold and seven platinum MarCom awards in digital, social, event and influencer categories.
HAS WORKED WITH: Allergan, Facebook, Helen of Troy, LinkedIn, Southwest Airlines, Sunbrella WEBSITE: ampagency.com RFP CONTACT: Andie Tilden Jewett, [email protected]
Acquired by parent organization Havas in 2017, Annex88 are experts at mapping cultural trends to clients through branding, social media management, technical innovation, influencer marketing and omni-channel content creation. Take its work for adidas, which transformed the treasure trove of history and experience contained in adidas’ Archive into an IGTV series that previewed upcoming innovations and their connections to the past. Or its partnership with TikTok creators and Resistbot, an actual chatbot that automates contacting elected officials easily through texting to encourage young voters to participate in the 2020 presidential election.
HAS WORKED WITH: Adidas, Hugo Boss, Hyatt, Keurig, Mars Wrigley WEBSITE: annex88.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
As the shop’s name suggests, Anomaly is not your ordinary agency. It eschews traditional agency models in favor of an entrepreneurial business structure and a mission to create business solutions for brands. For one, it develops its own IP in addition to clients’, which it can then license to clients and share revenue. Work this year included its first for Coca-Cola: a spot highlighting a meal shared with family and friends. It also crafted an animated video for Cheerios about spreading good and created a book and animated film series in partnership with the New York Life Foundation to help children cope with the loss of a loved one. Impressively, the agency has made DE&I commitments across six areas: accountability, talent, partnerships, education, support for Black partners and investment in change.
HAS WORKED WITH: Allbirds, Cheerios, Coca-Cola, Diageo, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Petco, Twitch WEBSITE: anomaly.com RFP CONTACT: Eric Damassa, [email protected]
By forcing the cancellation of live engagements, the pandemic meant agencies involved in sports and entertaining sponsorships spent much of 2020 renegotiating partnerships. Aquarius Sports and Entertainment developed a model to negotiate and place make-good sponsorship marketing for all its clients. One example: Because fans were not allowed at Homestead Miami Speedway for the June 2020 race weekend, eliminating engagement activations for client Baptist Health, the shop had the raceway’s NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoor Truck Series race renamed the Baptist Health 200, generating nearly $250,000 in QI media value for the healthcare organization. Aquarius also worked with its numerous other healthcare clients to place and promote community-impact messaging on partners’ media channels.
HAS WORKED WITH: AAA, Advent Health, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Conway Health, M&T Bank, Nickelodeon WEBSITE: aquarius-se.com RFP CONTACT: Marc Bluestein, [email protected]
“Hatch something great” was the 2020 theme for this PR and digital marketing agency, which focuses exclusively on B2B tech companies. Winning 13 Hermes Creative Awards, including five Platinums and five Golds, and six W3 Awards, including a Gold, were among the year’s highlights for this shop. So was successfully converting its annual Tech CMO Roundtable to a virtual format that attracted more than 70 C-level marketing execs. Its five-step process—Unearth, Research, Develop, Test/Refine and Execute—helped it add a literal A (Arrow Electronics) to Z (Zyxel) of new clients to its roster.
HAS WORKED WITH: Arrow Electronics, CHEP North America, DefenseStorm, Fiserv, NCR, OnPay WEBSITE:arketi.com RFP CONTACT: Mike Neumeier, [email protected]
Winning four 2020 Communicator Awards, for Constellation Brands’ national sales and marketing meeting’s brand guide and for a City of Hope fundraising video, was among the year’s highlights for August Jackson. So was earning a Best of KBIS award for the 9,000-square-foot Elkay Neighborhood at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. And let’s not forget the September 2020 launch of the AJ Digital Collective, a collaborative network of communications, event and technology experts working together to produce exceptional virtual events and digital experiences. In-house, Tod Szewczyk joined August Jackson as executive vice president of digital engagement.
HAS WORKED WITH: Duke University, Elkay, Grant Thornton, Hilton, Northwell Health, USO WEBSITE: augustjackson.com RFP CONTACT: Regina Farrington, [email protected]
Tempe, AZ-based influencer marketing agency August United offers a full suite of services including identifying and activating the right influencers for your brand, building a network of brand advocates, creating content, establishing a social media marketing strategy and holding influencer brand retreats. Work for PetSmart earned the brand an Audience Honor Shorty Award for its YouTube video series highlighting a puppy training curriculum for new pet parents. YouTube creator Aaron Burriss worked with PetSmart trainer Shannon Erickson to create 10 videos that earned organic engagement lauded by Gartner Research. With recently acquired social media and digital ad agency Sitewire, the company has added SEO, web design and measurement to its expertise.
HAS WORKED WITH: Dial, Kroger, Microsoft, PetSmart, Ralphs WEBSITE: augustunited.com RFP CONTACT: Tyler Farnsworth [email protected]
This indie shop’s six global offices focus on equal parts storytelling, technology and culture. It offers up product design, brand strategy, digital and social content, visual design and much more. Recent work that caught our eye: For Kangol x H&M, a ‘90s-inspired streetwear collection, the agency worked with popstar Mabel—a Gen Z favorite—on a music video released on Instagram Stories in which users themselves were featured. When consumers posted all six #KangolxHM filters, personalized music videos appeared in their own Stories accounts.
HAS WORKED WITH: Fenty, Google Pixel, H&M, Hyundai, Moschino, Nike WEBSITE: b-reel.com
RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Launching the agricultural industry’s first new seed brand in 25 years is challenging enough. Having just 90 days to bring it to market makes the task even trickier. Throw in a global pandemic, and “challenging” becomes an understatement. Yet in spring 2020, Bader Rutter launched Brevant seeds for Corteva Agriscience, earning 4.95 million digital impressions and more than 38,000 website visits in its first 14 days. Among others wins was new client Acuity Insurance and being named top B2B marcom agency in the U.S. by B2B Marketing magazine and top agrimarketing agency in the country by Agri Marketing magazine. In-house, the 275-person agency launched its Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council, committing to “learn more, listen harder, change faster, and give more.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Acuity Insurance, Corteva Agriscience, Pioneer, Raymond, Seaboard Foods, Zoetis WEBSITE: baderrutter.com RFP CONTACT: David Jordan, [email protected]
It’s not often that a medicinal brand creates a clothing collection. Cheil Worldwide-backed Barbarian worked with Mucinex to launch a sleepwear capsule collection, called “Sickwear,” designed with the goal of making sick people feel better. Enlisting the expertise of a clothing designer and creative director, the agency helped Mucinex launch clothing with the colors, textures, aromas and design elements that have the power to soothe the sick. A hoodie with a hood padded like a pillow? Yes, please. It’s also offering free workshops that provide recommendations on how brands can adapt to changes brought on by the pandemic. Boasting D&I chops, Barbarian is 3%-certified, which means it was honored for its female leadership, workplace equality and equal creative opportunities.
HAS WORKED WITH: JBL, GE, Kiehl’s, Mucinex, Omron, Samsung WEBSITE: wearebarbarian.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
As a 100-percent virtual/remote agency even prior to 2020, bBIG Communications was especially well situated to deal with the shelter-in-place response to the pandemic. It also helped clients adapt to restrictions with programs such as its COVID Safety Campaign for the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA), which communicated the government agency’s global guides for addressing COVID-19 while encouraging authorized shoppers to return to base commissaries. Making its full-service offering even more robust, bBIG added PR services and strategies, naming Mark Tedeschi vice president of public relations and communications. The shop also signed several new clients including D&D Building and Veracity Window & Door.
HAS WORKED WITH: Del Monte Foods, Frito-Lay, GlaxoSmithKline, Kellogg’s, Nestlé Purina PetCare, Procter & Gamble WEBSITE: bbigcommunications.com RFP CONTACT: Mark Igo, [email protected]
This six-year-old shop was recently named a Best Sports Event and Experiential Marketing Agency by SportsBusiness Journal and added two experiential marketers, Jerrold Kinney and Lauren Boger, to serve as project managers to support recent client wins. With sports sponsorships taking a virtual turn this year, Bespoke worked with AdventHealth to deliver a personalized hospitality experience for 35 partners using its own digital hospitality platform that it activated at the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race in May. The 45-minute pre-race event was preceded by a video from AdventHealth driver Ross Chastain welcoming VIPs. Attendees received home viewing kits ahead of time and programming at the event featured exclusive content and viewing angles that only attendees had access to, from an up-close look at the AdventHealth car to a personal tour from the pit crew coach. Additional engagements included trivia, a driver pool, live analysis from NASCAR media members and a Q&A with Chastain himself.
HAS WORKED WITH: Academy Sports+Outdoors, Navy Federal Credit Union, Peet’s Coffee, Duke’s Mayonnaise, AdventHealth, Dixie Vodka WEBSITE: bespokesportsmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: bespokesportsmarketing.com/contact-us
Acquired by fellow Austin-based shop Best Practice Media, a social media marketing and digital agency that annually produces Social Media Week Austin and Denver, this crew puts social media first and foremost—but offerings like blog management, branded content, email marketing and podcasts are on the table, too. To help Chuy’s Restaurants grow a robust local following, the agency created three campaigns that drove awareness—30 million people reached, 85,000 new social media followers and $90,000 in sales.
HAS WORKED WITH: Chuy’s, Dairy Queen, Facebook, JW Marriott, KVUE WEBSITE: socialdistillery.com RFP CONTACT: Claire Winslow, [email protected]
This Brooklyn-based boutique operation offers growth strategy, brand intelligence, analytics, digital design, product R&D, content and production and paid and influencer media as services. Reaching nuanced audiences is how they roll. For instance, for the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, an organization whose mission is to encourage college students to vote in elections, Big Spaceship harnessed its proprietary “Gen Z Reveal” program, a series of focus groups and research that provides insights on Gen Z preferences, to produce a messaging and brand platform palatable to college students. The site encouraged students to pledge to recruit friends to vote through a school competition and provided clear, nonpartisan answers to questions about the voting process to make it approachable.
HAS WORKED WITH: Converse, Google Play, Greenpeace, Samsung Galaxy, Starbucks WEBSITE: bigspaceship.com
RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
FinTech conglomerate Broadridge wanted to show that its whole was greater than the sum of its parts by rebranding its 23 distinct product offerings as one global solution. BizMark not only helped the client craft an umbrella message, but it created and rolled out an integrated campaign that delivered an 11:1 ROI on marketing spend, tripled sales in part by facilitating upselling, and was named B2B Product Launch of the Year by the ANA. The agency, which focuses exclusively on B2B, also won nine new clients during the past year, including Clinical Education Alliance and Investment Metrics.
HAS WORKED WITH: Baird, Investment Metrics, Lane Healthcare, Nestlé Waters, Pitney Bowes, Quorum WEBSITE: bizmarkct.com RFP CONTACT: Ed Gillespie, [email protected]
Founded in 2014, Blue Bear’s goal is to rid the world of inferior social media marketing and strike a chord with millennial, Gen Z and Gen Y generations. They know that Gen Y uses social media as a means of product discovery before purchasing. And they know millennials, who can sniff out phony messages like pros—because they’re millennials themselves. We love their new podcast series, dubbed “Food Marketing Nerds,” which talks to major CPG brands—including Jägermeister and HelloFresh—as well as agency folk and other marketing experts about the trends and insights shaping the food and beverage industries.
HAS WORKED WITH: EMPACT Bars, Lavilin, Noodles & Company, Rock Bottom Brewery, Smashburger WEBSITE: bluebearcreative.co RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Others may be as creative, but not many have Borenstein Group’s knowledge of the defense, energy and aerospace markets. Based in Washington, DC, specialties include integrated digital marketing communications in the areas of supply chain, systems integration, IT, homeland security, defense, intelligence, telecomm and aerospace in a complex B2B and B2G terrain. Then there’s founder Gal Borenstein’s ability to convert abstract missions into action plans that boost clients’ bottom lines, and industry accolades for work like the branding campaign Amentum, which included TV ads, website, corporate identity and a new name and logo for the defense contractor.
What is the most critical imperative for effective B2B branding in 2021?
At Borenstein Group, we believe that the short answer is building digital trust. For example, in B2B or B2G, when you’re trying to win a three to a five-year contract for services or products you’re selling. What we found is that at the end of the day, the most critical word that defines your digital brand is trust. If you can’t build trust, you can be the best and wisest and most innovative company, but you will lose the battle if you don’t create the right quotient of trust in that theater of being evaluated.
There are several trust pillars to build that brand among stakeholders, decision-makers, and influencers, which is really how a business transaction takes place. First, the stakeholders are the people sitting in a committee; it could be a CFO and a CIO, and a bunch of other people. They all have their interests, and they’re not buying the contract for them or the agreement or the product or the software or the service for the reasons you think they are, which could be the functionality of it.
Digital trust is about understanding the psychology of the decision-makers, stakeholders and influencers. Before you start anything, understand who they are, because they’re humans. And if they’re humans, they do have emotions and impulses, but unlike an impulse buy where you pull out your credit card, they can pull out a credit card and spend a multi-million dollar contract—a decision just like that. They have rules to follow.
The second is competitive intelligence. Do you know what the other guys are doing before you start creating your own messaging? Do you know what works for them or doesn’t work? Not knowing that is a guarantee for a fail, because you might create a message that sounds exactly like your competition—which means you’re not going to be differentiated.
The third is being creative and saying that if between the four or five companies you’re competing against, comparable attributes could be put into an Excel sheet, and everything sounds alike.
What are the imperatives of successful client-agency relationships in 2021?
First, it’s all about showing respect to your clients by speaking their technical language. Second, don’t approach them as if we’re the “gods of creativity,” and they (client) are “subservient” (know nothing about marketing). In the age of digital, clients have plenty of choices, and they are a keystroke away. Third, it’s all about being a trusted advisor to your clients at the end of the day. We don’t think that your idea is more creative than somebody else’s opinion, but we believe that our strategic approach will be connected directly to outcomes that can be measured and scaled. Hence our tagline: making creativity a science.
Boston Digital focuses on enhancing and growing brands’ digital presence through strategy, development and design. Clients come from the life sciences, higher education, financial services, consumer product industries, and more. Recent stellar work includes a website for Moderna highlighting the progress of the company’s healthcare solutions—including a microsite tracking progress of its COVID-19 vaccine development—that resulted in a 52 percent increase in site users and a 112 percent increase in direct traffic. This shop can take your digital branding global, too. For FAGE, it created a series of localized websites for targeted regions in more than 50 countries. The result was an 82 percent increase in new users and a 115 percent jump in new mobile users year-over-year.
HAS WORKED WITH: FAGE, Harvard Medical School, Liberty Mutual, Moderna, Single Digits WEBSITE: bostondigital.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
The pandemic made 2020 especially challenging for retailers and brands that relied heavily on in-store activations and live events—as well as for agencies that frequently integrated such elements into their campaigns. For Brand Connections, it meant creating innovative curbside and ecommerce sampling programs, and pivoting to more digital promotions such as live-streaming experiences and custom videos. To that end, the company fortified its team with Ian Haldimann, who had been president of technology platforms for parent company Advantage Solutions, taking the helm at Brand Connections, and another Advantage exec, Scott Williams, coming onboard to head its biz dev and partnership efforts. Activision/Blizzard, Frito-Lay and Nespresso are a few of the new clients who worked with the agency this year.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bayer, GSK, Henkel, Kodiak Cakes, L’Oréal, Unilever WEBSITE: brandconnections.com RFP CONTACT: Scott Williams, [email protected]
What began 45 years ago with one client (still on board!) now serves Fortune 500 companies, tech innovators and non-profits. Today, Colorado-based Burns’ expertise encompasses analytics and measurement, branding and storytelling, campaign execution, event support and more. It developed a website for HPE’s Cloud 28+ that saw a 1,450 percent increase (yes, you read that right) in conversions in just two months, proving that “happy users = happy worldwide adopters.” Or, as they put it, “clients return to us because we get shit done.” All-righty, then!
HAS WORKED WITH: Coalfire, Ericsson, gogo, Siemens, Waterpik WEBSITE: burnsmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: burnsmarketing.com/get-in-touch/
This woman-owned agency wasn’t going to let a mere pandemic prevent it from providing clients with buzz-generating brand experiences. Instead it transformed in-person events into virtual ones and is working with clients to create hybrid experiences. This has led to offering XR (augment reality and virtual reality) services to distinguish its clients’ promotional efforts. As the country adjusts to the new normal, C3 Experiential is working with its CDC contacts to develop new health and safety procedures and has built a team of certified COVID-compliant event planners and on-site workers. It also added design director Clarissa Medeiros and director of client success Cathy Elphberg to its staff.
HAS WORKED WITH: CDC, Edelman PR, GE, The Home Depot, Ogilvy PR, Virgin Voyages WEBSITE: c3experiential.com RFP CONTACT: Christine Courtney, [email protected]
Woman-owned, full-service and focused on B2B2C, CBD adheres to a “marketing in the service of sales” approach that targets the customer journey—from awareness to discovery, consideration, intent, implementation and socialization. The result is a sales-driven end game for short- and long-term business success. Its digital marketing and media expertise includes an in-house programmatic DSP (that’s short for Digital Signal Processing) desk that aligns clients with programmatic buys appropriate for their size and budget. Another strength: employment branding, with an EVP who speaks nationally on the topic.
HAS WORKED WITH: Gerber Faucets, In-Pipe Technology, Rollex WEBSITE: cbdmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Doug Davila, [email protected]
To see what this agency is capable of, peruse its own website. The experience is delightfully interactive. Or explore Digital Bustle Group’s collection of media platforms, including Bustle and Nylon, whose navigation structure is centered around a feed of digital cards, each representing a story. The agency conceives award-winning digital work for clients, from personalized user journeys for healthcare patients to digital platforms for education and government to acquisition engines for financial clients. Named to AdAge’s 2020 A-List, C&T formed a new business unit this year with Scout Health, also under holding company Stagwell Group, to create Code and Theory Health, a division that focuses on brands in the healthcare industry and leverages Scout’s 100+ healthcare marketers.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bustle, CNN, J.P. Morgan, NBC News, Quest Diagnostics, U.S. Chamber of Commerce WEBSITE: codeandtheory.com
RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
This agency’s specialty is digital and in-person experiences, talent procurement and influencer marketing. New clients added to its roster in the last 12 months include Grand Seiko and National Geographic. Some work worth bragging about: Cogent World won a Chief Marketer PRO Award for Best Post-COVID Era Campaign for Corona’s Cinco at Home Benefit Concert, which helped Corona own Cinco de Mayo nationally while supporting the restaurant community and the NRAEF’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. Through a partnership with Live Nation, it hosted a live-streamed benefit concert on Twitter with special appearances from Becky G and Shaquille O’Neal. Adding a regional component into the mix, the event included live-streamed dj sets in five cities ahead of the national event.
HAS WORKED WITH: Constellation Brands, Coty, Hasbro, Luxe Brands, Li-Ning Way of Wade WEBSITE: cogentworld.com RFP Contact: Jordan Pollak, [email protected]
Positioning itself as a cost-effective alternative for CPG retail marketing program development and execution, Collaborative Marketing Group provides marketing solutions for clients as well as key retailers. Case in point: To drive trial and awareness of Del Monte’s Veggieful Bites at Meijer stores, CMG executed two waves of demos for households, and more than 50 percent of them were new to the retailer’s frozen category. The events also provided an 800 percent boost to sales. This year CMG’s work for The Wine Group expanded with added brands and more involvement in the planning and execution of cross merchandising programs. It also brought on a new account executive to support growing business with client McCormick.
HAS WORKED WITH: Chicken of the Sea, Del Monte, McCormick, MillerCoors, Sodastream USA WEBSITE: collaborativemktg.com RFP CONTACT: Garrett Plepel, [email protected]
CommCreative believes if you speak to the heart, the mind will follow. And sometimes the feet will, too, as a global campaign that launched pre-pandemic for OOFOS “recovery” shoes proved. Part of a team of agencies and field experts, CommCreative handled email marketing, a partnership with Runner’s World and a Boston Marathon pop-up that delivered online revenue and conversion rates as energizing as the shoes themselves. Branding, marketing, digital media and marketing, advertising, social media, pay per click, interactive, blogs, search engine marketing and more help ensure that fast-growing, privately held CommCreative remains at the head of the pack.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bose, iboss, Johnson Controls, RSA Conference, TruCode, Tyco SimplexGrinnell WEBSITE: commcreative.com RFP CONTACT: Ashley DePaolo, [email protected]
When footcare brand Dr. Scholl’s wanted to make strides on social media, it turned to Concept One Communications, whose specialties include social content development and global entertainment and partnership marketing. The agency stepped up with a content series that educated consumers on foot pain as well as posts that connected the brand with key cultural moments—for instance, reminding people that its products were “a treat for the feet” with a Halloween-themed post. The efforts paid off with a 19-percent engagement rate, exceeding industry benchmarks and expectations. The shop didn’t let COVID-19 restrictions hamper its creative vision either, even when, as was the case with a HelloFresh campaign, it had to conduct photo shoots via Zoom.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bayer Health Care, The Everest Experience, The Friars Club, Gillette, HelloFresh, X2 Performance WEBSITE: conceptone.com RFP CONTACT: John Kocis, [email protected]
Need proof of CPG Agency’s agility? Faced with the pandemic, it managed to convert AB InBev’s Global Senior Leadership Conference from in-person to remote in just one week, connecting more than 400 attendees in 15 locations worldwide. Also in response to the continuing shift from in-person to virtual events, the shop developed its CORE program, incorporating immersive processes and experiential strategies to ensure engagement among the attendees of its clients’ meetings and events. Yum! Brands, Siemens and Tacony Corp. were among the clients the corporate-engagement shop signed this past year—not bad for a business that launched in 1985 as an event production house.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bridgestone, BrightStar Care, Carnival Corp., O’Reilly Auto Parts, Southwest Airlines, Ulta Beauty WEBSITE: cpgagency.com RFP CONTACT: Liz Murnin, [email protected]
Like so many other companies this past year, education-tech provider Skillsoft had to convert its in-person user conference to a virtual format. But it didn’t want the conference to feel like a typical talking-heads meeting. So it called upon event and content marketing agency Cramer to transform the conference into a 24-hour event reaching 14,000 attendees on four continents, featuring round-the-clock interactive learning, Q&As, case studies and two performances by classically trained hip-hop duo Black Violin. Continuing with the adaptability theme, Cramer drew on its more than two decades of virtual and video experience to modify its two in-house studios and build four communication centers to allow for safe broadcasting and production.
HAS WORKED WITH: Akamai, Cigna, Biogen, Bose, Siemens Healthineers, SolidWorks WEBSITE: cramer.com RFP CONTACT: Scott Connolly, [email protected]
This digital experience design shop offers myriad technology solutions for brands, such as prototyping, application development and digital product design, but it also supports that architecture with strategy, planning, communication and data science. Recent work of note: The agency transformed BMW’s “Build-Your-Own” page for prospective buyers with a recommendation engine informed by data, user location and look-alike modelling, allowing site visitors to focus only on their future cars. Consumers could zoom in, rotate and switch views of the assets. The result was a 41 percent increase in build completion rates and 14 percent more lead form submissions. Additional 2020 news includes a new agency initiative to protect the environment that entailed planting 1,000 saplings outside its HQ in Calgary, Canada, and committing to maintaining the forest. It also launched “OpenBook” this year, a program that connects new college graduates with Critical Mass employees across five practice areas.
HAS WORKED WITH: Blue Shield of California, Lactaid, Nissan, Sunglass Hut, United Nations WEBSITE: criticalmass.com
RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Like so many other events this year, the 30th anniversary of Susan G. Komen’s “Race for the Cure” in New York City needed to pivot to virtual. Thanks to CSM, which produced a live-streamed, 30-hour fundraising event for the fight against breast cancer instead of its usual 5K runs and walks across the U.S., the event was able to raise more than $700,000. The stream featured 55 live callers and 150 pre-recorded videos, live performances, speeches, survivor stories and celebrity appearances. For long-time client Lenovo, it produced a virtual global launch event for its new workstation, the ThinkStation P620, that exceeded registration goals by 230 percent. And the work keeps on pouring in. The agency recently took on UK rapper and songwriter Jay1, the Hong Kong Football Club Rugby Section and the LPGA as clients. Also new this year is a social impact consulting practice in North America to support its cause-related clients.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon Prime Video, Carvel, Freeform, Lenovo, Susan G. Komen, Verizon WEBSITE: csm.com RFP CONTACT: Danit Aronson, [email protected]
This Carnegie Mellon spin-off is expert in everything from engineering to creative strategy, blurring the boundaries between marketing, art and technology. Ten years ago, its Nike Chalkbot rocked the first use of robotics in advertising. These days, its socks that automatically pause Netflix when you fall asleep, real-time tweets printed on confetti at Super Bowl LIV and its #ShowtimeCam—a two-way camera feed with LED screens that brings NFL fans to the field—all serve as examples of Deeplocal’s fresh thinking, and its 2020 portfolio of remote experiences that deliver, as they say, “all the emotion, none of the contact.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Comcast, Google, NBA, NFL, Zillow WEBSITE: deeplocal.com RFP CONTACT: Emily Price, [email protected]
This global powerhouse boasts a 450-person data and analysis team, a 1,000-person pool of technologists, more than 600 creatives, and media programs and strategic chops to support them. Gartner named it a 2020 leading agency in its Magic Quadrant for Global Marketing. Here’s a reason why: Unafraid of embracing atypical advertising and content formats, Digitas helped KitchenAid, owned by Whirlpool Corporation, create a Hulu documentary highlighting women’s work in the restaurant industry on Women’s Equality Day. New work landed this year includes a forthcoming visual identity and website design for Project Healthy Minds, a nonprofit committed to addressing the mental health of millennials and Gen Z as they grapple with the effects of COVID-19. The one-stop-shop digital hub’s design will take a consumer-based approach and implement best practices from mental health experts.
HAS WORKED WITH: Astrazeneca, Ebay, Dunkin’ Donuts, Maytag, Whirlpool WEBSITE: digitas.com RFP CONTACT: Michelle Tang,[email protected]
A one-stop shop for sweepstakes, contests, instant-win games and incentive and loyalty programs, Don Jagoda Associates provides everything from domestic and international legal consulting to strategy and development, warehousing and fulfillment services to mobile solutions. Its @TUMSworthy contest, in which the antacid brand live-tweeted heartburn-inducing moments during the Super Bowl as well as invited users to share their own, won Twitter’s Brand Bowl #Interception award as the brand that drove the most conversation without a national TV spot. For client Citizens Bank, DJA implemented and oversaw two campaigns that awarded 234 grants to small and minority-owned businesses hard-hit by COVID-19.
HAS WORKED WITH: Fidelity Investments, Marriott, Netflix, Staples, Unilever, Visa WEBSITE: dja.com RFP CONTACT: Lori Meoni, [email protected]
This year Droga5 created an internal framework to help clients navigate the business climate brought on by COVID-19 that includes a media and measurement scenario plan. It implemented the latter for Biofreeze, which entailed enacting a weekly measurement plan to track the shifts in its business and minimize risk. For Broadway musical “Sing Street,” which couldn’t perform due to theater closures, Droga5 hosted a musical performance at home that was broadcasted on Facebook Live. And in March of this year, the agency debuted its first work for Facebook, the platform’s first brand marketing effort. COVID-19 required pivoting the brand campaign, of course. The new direction centered around a film that highlighted a spirit of solidarity during trying times and also showcased Community Help, a platform that allows people to give assistance and relief to those within their communities. A notable new client: In November, Lululemon chose Droga5 New York as its agency of record. It was also named Agency of the Decade this year by AdAge. Not too shabby.
HAS WORKED WITH: HBO, Lululemon, Prudential, The New York Times, Under Armour WEBSITE: droga5.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Duncan Channon’s sweet spot is launching and—in particular—relaunching brands. Keeping it COVID-19 safe this year, the agency dreamed up an e.l.f. Cosmetics pop-up Halloween experience that brought spookiness to influencers’ homes. Targeting 15 beauty influencers, the campaign included a custom VW bus that arrived at their doorsteps, photo ops with a branded, 12-foot wall of pumpkins and pumpkin patches assembled and personalized on the influencers’ yards. Safe trial of e.l.f.’s Halloween inspiration suite was on site to inspire sharing with their respective beauty communities. New business of note: The agency was recently awarded a five-year contract as agency-of-record for state health insurance marketplace Covered California.
HAS WORKED WITH: Citi, Covered California, CTCP, e.l.f. Cosmetics, GrubHub, Sweetarts, Upwork WEBSITE: duncanchannon.com RFP CONTACT: Noël Johnson, [email protected]
Data, technology, marketing and creative drive Elicit’s consumer-centric approach. That, plus its team of geeks, nerds and suits, otherwise known as technologists, analysts and strategists. Clients such as Southwest Airlines praise Elicit’s ability to uncover valuable customer insights; others tout its “high caliber” skillsets, which center on integrated research and analytics, marketing technology audits and strategies for engaging their customers and their workforce. As Elicit CMO Brooke Niemiec explains, “The surest path to happier employees and happier customers (and bottom-line revenue growth) is to look at the experience both are having together.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Best Buy, Fossil, GameStop, HCA, Southwest Airlines WEBSITE: elicitinsights.com RFP CONTACT: Brooke Niemiec, [email protected]
Named to Fast Company’s 2020 list of the 10 most innovative live-events companies, this shop specializes in campaigns that pair live activations (the “engage” component) with branded and social content (the “resonate” element). Add “surprise and delight” to the equation and you have its holiday 2019 in-store program for Victoria’s Secret where PINK cardholders could take advantage of free same-day custom embroidery and gift wrapping, and customers could sign up to become cardholders then and there to enjoy the perks. Clients onboarded by the agency during the past year included Abercrombie & Fitch and National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA).
HAS WORKED WITH: Allstate, Amazon, Golin, L Brands, Publicis Groupe, Under Armour WEBSITE: engageresonate.com RFP CONTACT: Jessica Rae, [email protected]
It seems appropriate that Mercedes-Benz USA would turn to an agency named Engine Shop for campaigns such as its AMG Driving Experience partnership with Glamour magazine. The event, in which 54 female entrepreneurs, editors, and influencers gathered at the Laguna Seca Racetrack to bridge the gap between women and motorsports, generated more than 4.6 million social media impressions and 2.8 million social media engagements. After COVID-19 led to the cancellation of live events, the agency brought together Mercedes-Benz brand ambassadors including Martha Stewart and Ludacris for a live webcast benefiting the American Red Cross. Also during the year Engine Shop hired its first CFO, David Long, and first VP of corporate communications, Gina Katzmark.
HAS WORKED WITH: Anheuser-Busch, Hilton, Major League Soccer, Proximo Spirits, Twitch, Wildlife Conservation Society WEBSITE: engineshopagency.com RFP CONTACT: Jonathan Sonkin, [email protected]
Influencer marketing agency Epic Signal recently built a real-time social presence for Keystone Light—not an easy task in an industry with strict regulations. It required a complete overhaul of the company’s approval process in order to post quickly on social platforms and remain on top of cultural trends while they’re hot. The results were fire: In less than a year all the brand’s social platforms garnered 2.4 million earned impressions and 30,000 new fans. For Adobe, the agency accelerated the brand’s YouTube subscriptions by tapping the husband-and-wife team at Mango Street Productions to author a branded-content series featuring tutorials of Adobe Creative Cloud. Cross-pollination of audiences and a paid media strategy unearthed a cool 60,000 new subscribers.
HAS WORKED WITH: Adobe Creative Cloud, Amazon, Coors Lite, Method, Mountain Dew WEBSITE: epicsignal.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
This minority-owned experiential marketing agency kicked off 2020 with a rebrand that called attention to its digital and technological capabilities as much as its experience with live events. This multidisciplinary approach served Factory360 well when the pandemic forced the cancellation of live events. Its four-part model, encompassing experiential, digital, social and content, is apparent in its Common Ground campaign for nonprofit Stand Together. Designed to show how America benefits from immigration, the touring experience featured a dozen freestanding doors that, when opened, played video content; trucks serving free food from a variety of nations and alfresco seating areas encouraged participation and conversation.
HAS WORKED WITH: Apple, EyeBuyDirect, Nestlé, Santa Margherita USA, Visit Florida, Vrbo WEBSITE: factory360.com RFP CONTACT: Gabriela Neves, [email protected]
Analytics firm CubeYou estimates that the average client-agency relationship lasts less than three years. Fahlgren Mortine is proud to report that its top 25 accounts have been with the agency an average of nearly eight years. That’s not to say Fahlgren Mortine hasn’t welcomed new business: Carrier, Culmen Real Estate and JobsOhio are just a few of the clients recently signed. Among its recent work, one campaign was especially prescient: developing a 3-D virtual trade show experience for Crown Equipment Corp. Because the project began before the pandemic, Crown was able to continue capturing leads even as in-person trade shows were cancelled.
HAS WORKED WITH: Avery Dennison, DHL Supply Chain, Emerson, Facemasks for All, Lubrizol Advanced Materials, RavenTek WEBSITE: fahlgrenmortine.com RFP CONTACT: Erin Balow, [email protected]
Fame excels in brand design, experiences and communications, from visual identity to experiential marketing to employee engagement. For client Cricket Health, which needed to communicate its tech-forward, community-focused approach to detecting chronic kidney disease in patients, Fame updated its branding to reflect the company’s innovative approach through using warmer imagery connoting a more human element to healthcare, an ownable set of icons to differentiate the brand within the category and a more vibrant color palate to convey optimism and energy. Fame landed a new client this year in Chicago-based Innovative Ketamine, which provides a new treatment for depression. It works with companies beyond healthcare, too, such as beauty (Revlon) and technology (HPE).
HAS WORKED WITH: Best Buy, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Livea, Mall of America, Revlon WEBSITE: thisisfame.com RFP CONTACT: Lynne Robertson, [email protected]
With 120 offices in 90 countries and a team of more than 80 brand and retail planners and analytics experts, this agency offers end-to-end shopper capabilities, from innovation and planning to studio production. It’s accustomed to accolades, too. Here is a pair worth spotlighting: It won a commerce and shopper Effie this year for its Bud Light Pride campaign which focused on independent bars—where the Pride movement first started—and reimagined the Bud Light bottle with the Pride rainbow. And then there’s the Whopper Detour campaign it worked on for Burger King. Consumers landed a Whopper for one cent if—and only if—they collected the offer from the BK app while being within 600 feet of a McDonald’s. Genius.
HAS WORKED WITH: AB InBev, Brown-Forman, Burger King, Comcast, General Mills, The Coca-Cola Co. WEBSITE: fcbred.com RFP CONTACT: Howard Klein, [email protected]
With all due respect to Mr. Huxley, it’s a brave, new VIRTUAL world out there, and FG|PG’s deep experience in virtual and hybrid events is forging new paths through it. From virtual and web conferences, virtual trade show exhibits, live broadcast product demos and branded video platforms, the work speaks for itself. The agency offers three categories of platforms—web browser-based, application-based and hybrid—and invests the same care into each as it does in in-person events. Virtual worlds, XR virtual experiences and green screens are just some of the keys to this agency’s brave, new slate of offerings.
HAS WORKED WITH: Carbon, Facebook, Fortnite, Hydrofoam, Tito’s Homemade Vodka WEBSITE: freddiegeorges.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Firebelly was named a 2020 top social media agency by research firm Clutch and has been recognized by Sprout Social for its excellence in providing social media services. This crew starts with a full audit of brand-owned social channels, offers content calendars and performance reports and manages social ad spend and creative development. Clients praise the shop’s awareness of the latest industry trends, collaborative process and open dialogue. We love their new passion project #GotTheFire: a video series featuring guests doing inspiring things in their community of Indianapolis.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cisco, For Dummies, Fuji Water, Qdoba, Sony, Team USA WEBSITE: firebellymarketing.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Founded in 2010, Firewood was acquired in October 2019 by S4 Capital and merged with creative production company MediaMonks to become the London-based advertising agency’s global digital marketing arm. It remains headquartered in San Francisco, though, which is no doubt handy given its roster of tech clients. For fellow Bay Area company YouTube, Firewood created an integrated end-to-end support model for its marketing emails that enabled the company to vastly increase the number of campaigns while slashing the time and money spent implementing them. Its launch video for the Stories feature of another local company, LinkedIn, garnered more than 1.1 million views in its first week.
HAS WORKED WITH: Aeroméxico, Facebook, Google, HP, Salesforce, Uber WEBSITE: firewoodmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Warren Chase, [email protected]
How to connect with remote attendees these days? Let us count the FIRST ways: livestreams, webcasts, podcasts, online meetings, video on demand and virtual communities. Livestreaming on Twitter for Verizon Media’s NewFront reached 135,000 viewers, and featured a live AR peek into its 5G technology. Facebook and Twitter livestreams for The New York Times New Rules Summit became its most streamed event ever. And a digital upfront for Univision incorporated motion graphics, sizzle videos and a musical performance by Pitbull and was named a finalist by Event Marketer (our sister pub) for Best Virtual Event.
HAS WORKED WITH: Netflix, Northwell Health, Samsung, Sibos TV, Univision WEBSITE: firstagency.com RFP CONTACT: firstagency.com/contact
Firstborn creates high-tech, interactive digital experiences for brands, from concept development to execution. For instance, it designed a suite of digital tools for Beats by Dre that educated audiences about the brand’s latest products through interactive storytelling. Using 3D models, motion graphics and engaging narration, the tools, known collectively as Tempo, cleverly solved the problem of marketing a product that’s still in development. The launch played out worldwide in more than 20 languages and saw a 2.13 X lift in pre-order channel sales. For adidas Originals, it positioned and launched a new line of NMD and Hardcourt sneakers for four national retailers. And all it had was a low-res render of the shoes and a ‘90s hip-hop-themed moodboard as inspiration.
HAS WORKED WITH: adidas, Chevron, Flexport, Foot Locker, Jägermeister, Jet.com WEBSITE: firstborn.com RFP CONTACT: Asher Wren, [email protected]
Founded in 2015 by Laura Hutfless and Jeremy Holley, music industry veterans from CAA and Warner Music Group, this Nashville-based CM200 newcomer helps brands navigate the complexities of the music and entertainment industry through managing artist and influencer partnerships, creating fan experiences and leveraging marketing promotion, press, social media and music licensing. Work this year included launching “Gratitunes,” a platform for Vanderbilt University Medical Center that gave consumers the chance to thank medical professionals on the frontlines fighting COVID-19 through dedicating songs and performances. The initiative earned more than 193 million media impressions to date. It also hosted the ShowHER Love Virtual Baby Shower with children’s apparel brand Carter’s for 100 moms and moms-to-be, featuring celebrity mom Kelly Clarkson and 19 brand partners. Talk about a success: It scored a whopping 1.6 billion impressions, making it the brand’s best-performing sweepstakes of all time.
HAS WORKED WITH: Barefoot Wine, Bumble, Cracker Barrel, Jack Daniel’s, Norwegian Cruise Line, Vanderbilt University Medical Center WEBSITE: flytevu.com RFP CONTACT: Laura Hutfless, [email protected]
Industry leader and veteran Freeman is constantly evolving, which this year meant investing in key growth areas such as virtual events, digital and strategy. And business is booming: Their virtual event platform is booked solid well into 2021. The year also saw the launch of Freeman Event Research, the first in a series of comprehensive reports, recently citing some encouraging insights, especially increased confidence in live events. New President and COO Janet Dell leads the company’s global business operations and oversees strategy, creative, design, business development, customer experience and more. Another sign that the future is bright here.
HAS WORKED WITH: Alkami, American Physical Society, Electrolux, Financial Force, NAPE Network WEBSITE: freeman.com RFP CONTACT: freeman.com/start-rfp
What do you do when a pandemic strikes? If you’re Gelia you dig down and transition to virtual workshops and strategy sessions along with new processes and tools. You also strengthen non-traditional services vital to your clients’ efficiency and attribution KPIs. For Caterpillar, that meant leveraging Gelia’s martech expertise to deliver relevant and customized content to customers, expanding its All Access Pass program into a Spanish language version and including additional product types and models, which boosted post-sale revenue and sales leads. Gelia also kept the leads flowing for Caterpillar’s compact building equipment. Even during a pandemic.
HAS WORKED WITH: Caterpillar, Dana Inc., Independent Health, Mann+Hummel, TRICO WEBSITE: gelia.com RFP CONTACT: Justin Phipps [email protected]
A division of global experience agency Jack Morton and part of a 28-member brand collective, IPG DXTRA, Genuine specializes in digital strategy, creative and web design, technology consulting and platform builds, UX design, data audits, digital experiences and video production. This year it added Acoustic and Go RVing to its client roster. Work that caught our eye: For CoverGirl, the agency casted and hosted the first all-female football program show with Lesley Visser, the first female football analyst. The production, dubbed “Rantin’ and Raven,” scored 27 million impressions, seven million unique Facebook views and 421,000 organic YouTube views. And for UL, it developed an infrastructure that consolidated 275 websites into an online educational program, saving the brand 50 percent in costs for each new site build.
HAS WORKED WITH: Acoustic, Audible, Mintz, Truth Initiative, Velcro, Welch’s WEBSITE: wearegenuine.com
RFP CONTACT: wearegenuine.com/contact
A global leader in live-event marketing, George P. Johnson decided to make the best of COVID-19’s effect on the industry by cofounding LiveForLife. The coalition of agencies offers its fabrication and logistics expertise to provide temporary structures, crowd-management services and other solutions for healthcare and testing facilities. And when cloud storage provider NetApp needed to convert two user-conference events into one digital-only gathering, GPJ facilitated a 3.5-hour live broadcast of sessions originating from each speaker’s home complemented by a platform of more than 80 on-demand technical sessions. The result: more than 10,000 registrants, more than triple the client’s initial goal.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cisco, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, IBM, Salesforce, State Farm WEBSITE: gpj.com RFP CONTACT: Scott Kellner, [email protected]
Most brands participating in the NBA All-Star Weekend hold their activations at the stadium where the game takes place. GMR Marketing persuaded Rakuten to set up shop in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood instead. Designed to attract 30-something women, its Rakuten House included sessions on personal branding with area influencers, a VIP party deejayed by MC Lyte, and a 360-degree Cash Cam photo op where guests could win cash, merchandise and NBA tickets. The result: more than 164,000 engagements and more than 1.5 million video views on social media. This “zig when everyone else zags” thinking no doubt helped GMR attract ABC Supply and Campari America to its client roster.
HAS WORKED WITH: Comcast, Humana, Intel, Nissan, US Olympic & Paralympic Properties, Visa WEBSITE: gmrmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Becky Petska, [email protected]
Just about anyone who ever played with a Barbie doll at one time thought, “I wish I could live in Barbie’s Dreamhouse.” To celebrate Barbie’s 60th anniversary, Grow Marketing partnered with Airbnb and Mattel to transform a Malibu home into a real-life dream house, replete with onsite programming from the likes of celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. The activation made more than a few grown-up girls’ dreams a reality—and generate more than three million social media engagements. After the pandemic canceled live events, the women-owned shop developed for Google a global livestream playbook on how to host virtual training and is leading its North American virtual events into 2021.
HAS WORKED WITH: Allergan, KinderCare, Rodan + Fields, Salesforce, Stitch Fix, Uber WEBSITE: grow-marketing.com RFP CONTACT: Tami Anderson, [email protected]
Some have called the B2B market the quietest $120 billion industry you’ve never heard of. With that in mind, Dentsu Aegis, parent of Gyro, formed Merkle B2B, a consortium of five agencies, including Gyro, with the goal of serving this largely untapped market and grabbing a share of its rapid (25 percent YOY) growth. Gyro brings experience in omnichannel programs to the group, such as Grant Thornton’s “Status Go” campaign, encompassing TV, online, social media and digital components. With recent client wins in tech, hospitality and global manufacturing, look for even more dynamic work from this B2B powerhouse.
HAS WORKED WITH: Grant Thornton, HP Education Solutions, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Marshalls, Thryv WEBSITE: gyro.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
If promo marketing is the name, data is Hangar12’s game. Even before presenting ideas to clients, the team aggregates the consumer data to back them up, generating on-demand surveys and online tests for panels of targeted shoppers. It believes social listening is an important strategy for CPG brands because of the increased engagement and growth-tracking opportunities it provides. And it picked up two 2020 PRO Awards for work on Saputo Cheese USA’s Fresh Family Favorites campaign that invited consumers to post their favorite cheese-inspired dish to Instagram for a chance to win a $2,000 Visa gift card and a few lip-smacking prizes.
HAS WORKED WITH: Columbia Fruit, Harkins Popcorn, Perdue Farm, Saputo Cheese USA, Universal Beauty Products WEBSITE:hangar-12.com RFP CONTACT: Greg Keating, [email protected]
EXECUTIVE Q&A WITH GREG KEATING, VICE PRESIDENT
Describe your agency in 100 words or less.
Hangar12 is a family agency currently owned by my father, Kevin Keating. He got into the business working with his father, Jack, in 1990 as Co-Account Executives at UVG&N, a creative agency in Chicago. Even though Jack was planning to retire in a year or two, they instead tripled their business and worked together for the next 12 years. In 2000, Kevin purchased the agency and grew its services in CPG marketing and package design. We’ve since pivoted more into the digital space working on social media and shopper marketing.
What are the top three trends your agency is leading the charge on?
1) Omnichannel CPG Strategy
2) ConnectedTV Activations
3) Asynchronous Work
Describe how clients perceive your agency and the people that work there.
Here’s a review from one of our clients: “If you need an agency that hears you and works with you to deliver your vision, Hangar12 is for you. Not sure what you want? They can do that, too. Comfortable thinking big or working small…they tailor to what you need, and treat all clients as equally important.
“I have known Hangar12 for many years at many different companies. They would be my first agency of choice for anything…and they are always my first recommendation. The best part of Hangar12 is that they are small enough to take care of you personally (no bait and switch), but adaptable enough to tackle the big programs, too. Packaging? Activation? Innovation? 360 marketing communication? Insights? Yup, they have you covered. The beauty: You only pay for what you need.”
Tell us about one of your favorite campaigns in 2020.
I’m super proud of what our agency has accomplished during this crazy year. One of the biggest projects we kicked off is our Masterbrand advertising campaign for Frigo CheeseHeads. The campaign dives head-on into the discussion of whether people chomp or peel string cheese, incorporating talent as well as brand influencers to fuel the longstanding debate about which way is better. Our video content incorporates a 1974 track, “Right is Right,” by Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan, with a beat that’s sure to get bodies moving. We want to draw families in with the hashtag #ChompOrPeel and invite everyone to express themselves, challenge their friends, and challenge the way they eat string cheese. But most of all, we want people to have fun with it. In the end, this brand is always about great-tasting cheese and fun. Frigo® Cheese Heads® brand is supporting the campaign with ConnectedTV, digital media, social media, and a Times Square billboard in New York City.
What separates a good agency from a great agency?
A good agency delivers results; a great agency delivers results and educates the brand team along the way. Marketers reach out to agencies because they need to rely on outside expertise. Too many agencies feel they need to conceal their methodologies to maintain their perceived value with a client. The reality is that the client will value the agency so much more if they are willing to educate the brand team on the why and how of a marketing strategy. Sharing that expertise builds trust and fosters the brand/agency relationship.
How has your agency evolved over the last few years?
Hangar12 shifted to a completely remote model in 2015 after having an office in the West Loop of Chicago for a number of years. This obviously proved to be a bit ahead of the curve given the current state of world affairs, but it speaks to how we evaluate our work environment. We are always thinking from a consumer perspective and we apply that to our own internal operations as well. Each of our employees is productive at different times of the day and we want to give them space to thrive. On the marketing side, we constantly evaluate shopper habits to adapt our strategies to fit the ever-changing way consumers devour information and make purchase decisions. Often this takes the form of testing new digital media channels to see how we can better reach millennial shoppers and resonate with people in an authentic way.
What sets your company apart as a leading agency?
We help brands create omnichannel campaigns that deliver double digit sales lift, plain and simple. We focus on creating brand consistency at every touchpoint in the consumer journey to lower customer acquisition cost and jump-start growth.
What is the culture like at your agency?
Hangar12 is a family of smart professionals after success for all their clients. Everyone is closely connected to achieve the best work for clients, even given the remote working environment. Working remotely instills an entrepreneur spirit in everyone to further push unique thinking and collaboration, which instills a solid sense of ownership. While everyone works hard, the work/life balance is beyond comparison from any other agency. Upper management ensures everyone enjoys their personal life and pushes a healthy balance, which in turn brings an attitude that makes you want to come to work.
For all the other agency professionals out there, what’s it like working at your company?
We are masters of the Zoom call, but we do our best to get together in person on a regular basis (COVID notwithstanding) to build camaraderie. Our teams are often working asynchronously to achieve results at a faster pace than traditional agency shops, though we are constantly in communication via a slew of different tools like Gchat, Basecamp and Zoom. Respect is a core value at our agency and that means respecting everyone’s time as well. We try to avoid extraneous meetings and give people time back to live their life during the day so that they can work when they are most productive.
What are the biggest challenges or pain points for marketers in 2020?
A great deal of our client portfolio is in retail food & beverage products, so they’ve actually seen a spike in demand during COVID. Interestingly, this has created unexpected challenges on the supply side to meet the demand surge when plants can’t operate at 100 percent capacity safely. Some companies have elected to throttle ad spend to avoid pushing consumers in-store when there may be stock outs on key SKUs resulting in a decreased marketing budget. Our agency is taking a long-term perspective towards this issue knowing that supply issues will eventually be resolved and marketing will re-enter the fold as an imperative lever to maintain the demand experienced during the pandemic.
What are the biggest trends marketers should be on top of to stay ahead of the competition?
Supply chain innovation. People tend to frame this up in the context of ecommerce vs. retail, but it’s much more nuanced than that. In the grocery space, we’ve seen grocery delivery explode due to COVID. Big box retailers like Home Depot and Lowes are carrying less inventory on hand and then providing curbside pickup at the store for online orders. The online and retail experiences are continuing to blur, and marketers need to be baking this into their consumer messaging. Brands should be communicating to consumers all the different ways their product is readily available and treat that as differentiating value.
What marketing techniques or technologies should brands consider expanding or adding to their arsenal this year?
If it’s not already a part of your media package, ConnectedTV needs to be included in your advertising strategy. The ability to programmatically deliver engaging video content to a very targeted audience on a platform like Hulu is a game changer. Linear TV still has a place for big brands, but CTV delivers more measurable results at a lower cost. It’s a no-brainer.
What are the most important questions marketers should ask when choosing a new agency partner?
Far and away the biggest question marketers should be asking is, do I trust this agency to execute on behalf of my brand? That stems from a couple things: building rapport with the team that will be working on their business and evaluating the agency’s existing body of work to determine agency fit. We typically utilize case studies to demonstrate not just our capabilities, but also our ability to problem solve in unique ways. It’s a challenge to dive in headfirst with a new agency, but ultimately the brand team needs to feel comfortable empowering the agency to do their best work and operate in the best interest of the brand itself.
Think global events, multi-city tours, sports activations and custom content series. Recognized at the Shorty Awards this year for its work on the second season of Ellen Digital Network series “Fearless,” which highlights heartwarming stories of people overcoming confidence issues. Hosted by super model and body activist Ashley Graham, the series helped client Total Wireless connect with a young, female audience and saw even greater success in its second go with 111 million total views, 30 million impressions and 2.6 million engagements. This year launched the North America Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee, a team of nine company leaders who will guide the agency’s DE&I strategy. In pre-COVID times, Havas handled the Coca-Cola-sponsored FIFA World Cup™ Trophy Tour, an awareness campaign for PUMA’s new Third Kits with soccer teams Borussia Dortmund and A.C. Milan, and much more. To keep clients and fans engaged and entertained, it started Havas S/E Passion Insider, a weekly content series tackling salient topics of the moment.
HAS WORKED WITH: Delta Air Lines, PUMA, The Coca-Cola Company, Total Wireless, Under Armour WEBSITE: havas-se.com RFP CONTACT: Amanda Daniels, [email protected]
This self-described “customer experience company” gave itself a brand refresh complete with a new mission: to bring moments of truth and beauty into people’s lives. It then proceeded to launch a new brand identity and website for propane company AmeriGas as part of a three-year customer-first digital transformation. Its Don’t Blink campaign for Gigamon, a provider of network visibility and analytics solutions, incorporated beauty in the form of slow-motion video of raindrops, lightning and other “millisecond stories” to communicate the importance of speed and visibility. After debuting at the RSA Conference 2020, the video garnered more than 1.3 million views on YouTube in 10 months, and its messaging served as a cornerstone of a multimedia campaign.
HAS WORKED WITH: Comcast, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Delta Dental, Symantec, TD Ameritrade, U.S. Bank WEBSITE: herodigital.com RFP CONTACT: Tara Hodson, [email protected]
Last year’s numbers say it best: 400,000 leads delivered, 48 million emails sent, 11,000 campaigns fulfilled and a 1.5 percent return rate. Plus, it’s got 28 million contacts in its database and sponsors the 8k-plus Demand Generation and Content Marketing Group on LinkedIn. Its lead-gen process combines marketing automation, email and historical data to broaden reach with core audiences or gain traction with new ones. Plus, campaigns are filled within days. Also offers webinar and event recruitment and data services for large-scale and tech clients. Pretty hip, we say.
HAS WORKED WITH: Aberdeen, Dude Solutions, HG Data, Kronos, Pardot WEBSITE: hipb2b.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
This brand engagement agency credits its proprietary four-step process, from planning through performance measurement, with much of the success of campaigns such as its Stocking Spree for Publix. To attract more millennials to the supermarket chain, HMT Associates reached out to them via influencers and digital ads on mobile in-app displays, offering a $10 gift card for every $50 spent on participating brands. Not only did sales at Publix grow 27 percent, but membership in its loyalty program jumped 41 percent as well. Speaking of growth, the shop boosted its headcount even during the pandemic and added major accounts such as Abbott Nutrition and Barilla America.
HAS WORKED WITH: B&G Foods, Heineken USA, Kraft Heinz, Lactalis American Group, Mondelēz International, PepsiCo WEBSITE:hmtassociates.com RFP CONTACT: Laura Moser, [email protected]
Huge designs customer experiences rooted in data and technology. Case in point: It helped BRASH coffee roasters develop a user experience that visually cued customers when their orders were ready by projection mapping their names next to the beverages. It also created an AR experience that visualized where the shop’s coffee beans originated from. Most recently, it teamed up with Vote Early Day to encourage people to vote ahead of time in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which included an out-of-home campaign with the hashtag #SickOfItDay, a mantra signifying the frustrations younger folks were having with the state of U.S. politics. This year it published research for brands that examines post-isolation personas created by COVID-19 and how businesses can respond. In many cases, this agency goes far beyond branding. Take its work for barbecue brand Vermont Casting, which emerged from dormancy with a new brand strategy and identity system—but also a new product line of grills and accessories developed and designed by Huge.
HAS WORKED WITH: Android, Canada Goose, Gucci, Hulu, Pfizer, YouTube WEBSITE: hugeinc.com
RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
This digital shop’s sweet spot is “designing people-centric media, content and experiences,” each rooted in the belief that design should center around the consumer. Take its work for the Beam Inc-owned cordial DeKuyper, whose brand awareness needed a serious boost. iCrossing built a new website and visual identity focused around the occasions that inspire consumers to drink cocktails together. Supplemented with 300 new cocktail recipes, the redesign resulted in a 500 percent increase in site traffic and a 400 percent boost in Facebook engagements. Accolades this year include being honored at the 2020 OMMA Awards for improving LG Electronics’ SEO performance and being named a leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Global Marketing for the seventh year in a row.
HAS WORKED WITH: Beam Suntory, DeKuyper, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Motors, TD Bank, UGG WEBSITE: icrossing.com
RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
A reputable social media OG, Ignite has been in business for 13 years offering up strategy development, content creation, community management, influencer marketing, media buying and reporting and analytics—and has continued honing its expertise. Recently the shop created a free “Ask Me Anything” webinar series featuring its team members dishing on salient topics like planning and budgets, advertising and community management. Adding to its list of certifications this year, the agency is now a Preferred Facebook Marketing Partner in addition to being Snapchat- and Pinterest-certified. It also has gained access to TikTok’s new Creator Marketplace, which helps brands collaborate with influencers on the platform.
HAS WORKED WITH: American Heart Association, Jeep, Lowe’s, Samsung, Staples WEBSITE: ignitesocialmedia.com RFP CONTACT: Lisa Braziel, [email protected]
Like most of its peers, this experiential marketing agency has been integrating digital elements into its live events during the past few years. This helped facilitate the pivot to all-virtual events in the wake of COVID-19. For AT&T Business, Impact XM created an interactive platform that served as the destination for all of the client’s webinars and other virtual events while hosting 360-degree virtual exhibits and interactive content. Not only did this virtual hub compensate for AT&T Business having to cancel all its live marketing events, but it also positioned the client as a leader in user-friendly technology.
HAS WORKED WITH: AstraZeneca, BASF, GSK, Nutanix, Takeda, Weyerhaeuser WEBSITE: impact-xm.com RFP CONTACT: James Morris, [email protected]
With Pico Corp. acquiring a stake in 2019, this experiential marketing shop is now part of a 2,000-plus-strong team of event professionals with staff and facilities in 44 cities worldwide. Here in the USA, Infinity Marketing Team was the official production partner for the NAACP’s 111th annual national convention, held entirely online for two weeks in September. Featuring more than 25 live and on-demand sessions from the likes of Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams and Reginald Hudlin, it generated 527,000 stream views, exceeding the client’s expectations. NAACP was just one of the agency’s new clients this year; others include Alibaba and Huawei.
United by its commitment to finding a cure for pediatric cancer, the team at Inspira has a penchant for purpose-driven marketing. Proudly independent, the experiential shop is dedicated to fostering a culture that fearlessly explores creative concepts. Like its work on Jeep’s Champion of Adventure X Games sponsorship that engaged young adventure-seekers in a cinematic, 4D viewing experience inside a 30-foot dome. The 360-degree film transported attendees to mountain trails, deserts and lake beds, complete with blowing wind, scents and the ambient sounds of nature. The agency also picked up a Service Excellence Award at the Diageo Supplier Awards for its flexibility and responsiveness to meet changing supply chain requirements.
Growing clients’ business via its Real Revenue Transformation approach is the specialty of Intelligent Demand, which B2B Marketing named the number-one ABM agency in the U.S. Its multitouch ABM rebranding campaign for manufacturing-plant software provider Ease, which had to take into consideration plant managers’ general disregard of digital marketing, delivered 31 qualified leads and seven opportunities in its first three months—especially impressive given that the pandemic delayed its launch. Executive creative director Jamie Capozzi is among the B2B shop’s new team members, and new clients include Heap and RevSpring.
HAS WORKED WITH: Comcast, Identity Automation, IntelePeer, N3, Ping Identity, WOW! WEBSITE: intelligentdemand.com RFP CONTACT: Mike Swainey, [email protected]
Invision has staged large user conferences, spectacular sales kickoffs, enriching employee programs, big name entertainment and intimate gatherings, but this year was mainly about guiding clients through digital events with a Pivot Playbook, Pivot Workshop, a webinar series and a CLEANevents initiative in partnership with InHouse Physicians to safely facilitate in-person and digital experiences. The agency executed more than 45 digital events and pivots, with audiences varying from 50 to 500,000-plus, and transformed a face-to-face conference for DocuSign into a virtual setting in 72 hours ultimately drawing 6,000 attendees—more than five times that expected at the in-person event. Pivotal, indeed.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon Alexa, Bergstrom Climate Systems, Dell, Genentech, Siemens WEBSITE:iv.com RFP CONTACT: Chris Dalton, [email protected]
The past year was an especially transformative one for INVNT. After acquiring brand strategy firm Folk Hero in February 2020, the experiential shop in June became part of the newly launched [INVNT GROUP], which also includes another new entity, “creative-led culture consultancy” Meaning, and content studio and marketing agency HEVĒ. Cofounder/CEO Scott Cullather became CEO of the entire group, with fellow cofounder Kristina McCoobery moving from COO to become CEO of INVNT. Throughout all this—and a pandemic—INVNT produced 220 projects that attracted more than three million live physical and virtual attendees and added more than 20 new projects and clients, including A+E Networks and Walmart, to its roster.
HAS WORKED WITH: General Motors, McKinsey, Merck & Co., Samsung, Tableau, TEVA Pharmaceuticals WEBSITE: invnt.com RFP CONTACT: Scott Kerr, [email protected]
This Dentsu-owned agency offers marketing and communications, end-to-end commerce platforms, and products and services hatched in its innovation accelerator, the Isobar NowLab. It began in 2004 as a digital marketing shop but has since evolved into an experience-focused agency. Named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative companies in AR and VR, a key strength is its technological expertise and partner relationships. To meet the demands of consumers’ shifting consumption behaviors during COVID-19, it created a Curbside Pickup Manager solution for brands that leverages partnerships with Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce. And for Volkswagen, it conceived of a location-based, interactive audiobook to make car rides more enjoyable for families.
HAS WORKED WITH: Adidas, Alamo, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, HBO, KFC, Volkswagen, Zwilling WEBSITE: isobar.com
RFP CONTACT: Asher Wren, [email protected]
One of the industry’s veteran experiential agencies, Jack proved in 2020 that it could still be as fast and nimble as ever. Case in point: Jack ethos, a virtual-experience platform to help clients adapt to the shift from in-person to remote events. Its Jameson Connects: the Stay Inn Challenge, an eight-episode virtual music mentorship series featuring hip-hop artist Bas, earned more than 25 million impressions. Jack Morton also helped Facebook and the International AIDS Society transform their global conferences from in-person to virtual gatherings. And when ESPN returned to its studios, it provided the broadcaster with a socially distant facility design.
HAS WORKED WITH: Aldi, Ericsson, General Motors, Google, Lenovo, Verizon WEBSITE: jackmorton.com RFP CONTACT: Craig Smith, [email protected]
The intersection of technology and culture is where this design and experience agency thrives—and the result is truly groundbreaking immersive programs. The work speaks for itself. This past year Jam3 created a fully-virtual AI version of artist The Weeknd, using both deepfake technology and audio AI, for Spotify’s “Alone With Me” personalized listening experience. The shop was behind adidas’ Childish Gambino sneaker launch at Coachella, dubbed “Operation AirDrop,” which randomly awarded a few fans with a coupon for a free pair of kicks by sharing a photo through AirDrop. And it developed “Baby Laser Tag,” an AR first-person-shooter game, to promote Amazon’s second season of “The Boys.” Also worth noting: The agency nearly doubled the number of women employees in a year and increased the number of women in leadership positions from nine to 16, including its newest partner, Jordan Cuddy. New clients that have recently come onboard: Vizio, Estée Lauder, CrowdStrike, Diageo, Shopify, eEA, COMPLEX and Levi’s.
HAS WORKED WITH: adidas, Facebook, Google, Levi’s, Spotify, Twitter WEBSITE: jam3.com RFP CONTACT: Dan Clark, [email protected]
When your client provides environmental graphic design services for interior designers, architects and construction companies, you really have to make sure that its visual identity and assets are exceptional. Those JK Design created for MetroPro certainly were, winning a 2020 American Web Design Award from GD USA magazine. The assets were part of a branding campaign to differentiate MetroPro’s two distinct businesses (in addition to the newly named MetroPro Artisan Network, which makes gold and platinum records for the music industry). As well as winning this award, JK Design won new clients including Braen Stone and Prudential Financial during the past year and named industry vet George Ernst as its executive creative director.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amgen, Infosys, Johnson & Johnson, Prudential Financial, Ricoh, Signify WEBSITE: jkdesign.com RFP CONTACT: Chris Batten, [email protected]
It’s been a busy year for global creative agency JKR. For client Dunkin’, which enlisted the agency for a redesign in 2018, it created limited-run merch for superfans on National Donut Day and created a TV spot—a lighthearted spoof of the 2020 presidential election—in the same style. Picture impassioned speeches from donuts on the debate stage. Jet-Puffed marshmallows enjoyed a playful rebrand, too, that included the ideation of “Puff Pals” as mascots, or “little buddies you want to hug with your teeth.” Tire brand Vredestein and skincare company Bloom & Blossom got rebrands from JKR this year as well. And get this: The agency won a whopping 14 D&AD Awards in 2020 within the motion, integrated, branding and PR categories. Impressive.
HAS WORKED WITH: Athrú, Budweiser, Burger King, Dunkin’, Unicef, Vredestein WEBSITE: jkrglobal.com RFP CONTACT: Ash Clark, [email protected]
B2B lead generation is this shop’s expertise. It counts optimized web design, lead nurturing, content marketing, SEO, inbound marketing and ABM as strategies—all for B2B services and tech firms. Jumpfactor follows what it terms the “E4 process:” Expose content, Engage customers with media and content, Enroll visitors with a call-to-action and Enhance the program with data analysis and feedback. Some examples of successes: It helped ICC Property Management grow its traffic by 2,940 percent over six months and landed 740 percent more leads for CPL Technology through SEO, content marketing, lead nurturing and social promotion.
HAS WORKED WITH: Baanto, Cloudvelox, CPL, Keeran Networks, Veridin Systems Canada WEBSITE: jumpfactor.net RFP CONTACT: Zamir Javer, [email protected]
Brought response rates up while bringing costs down for AAA, increased quality leads for Tufts by 17 percent, moved SAP into a new vertical—fashion, told a complicated story in one simple brand video for Shoretel. We could go on, but you get the picture. Founder and CEO Russell Kern, the agency’s guiding force, oversees strategic creative and analytical leadership for data-driven brands like these. Besides lead gen, Kern offers expertise in turn-key acquisition marketing, integrated strategic road mapping, buyer’s journey development, content creation and automated lead management, delivering big results for big brands.
HAS WORKED WITH: AAA, AT&T, FIS Global, SAP, Tufts WEBSITE: kernagency.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
In the months leading up to McDonald’s 2020 Worldwide Convention, Kindle Communications created a highly personalized website, an internal social feed, badge-based gamification and a custom app, among other channels. Then came the pandemic, which led the fast-food giant to cancel the event. But the website did not go to waste: Kindle transformed it into a hub for communications among McDonald’s more than 30,000 employees and owner/operators. This same combination of agility and ingenuity led the agency to develop InterKinnect, a customizable, UX-focused virtual-event tech platform, and to attract new clients such as Abbott Diagnostics to its roster.
For years, B2B sales and marketing teams have clashed over poor-quality leads, bad data and a lack of real, genuine insights into prospects. Enter Argus, Kingpin’s proprietary demand orchestration and account-intelligence tool for B2B sales and marketing teams. Argus combines data management, campaign tracking and account-wide intent data to generate leads for sales, marketing, publishers and agencies, gleaning info from real engagements such as content downloads, event and web attendees and real-life conversations. And it tracks, analyzes and optimizes campaigns in real time. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.
HAS WORKED WITH: BAE Systems, Microsoft, NTT Data, Quest Software, Trend Micro WEBSITE: kingpincomms.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
With clients primarily in the automation, energy, medical device, robotics, supply chain and telecom industries, Koroberi knows the importance of making complex subjects comprehensible and accessible. It also knows the need for companies with advanced technologies to present a thoroughly modern, but not trendy, image. For Zethcon, Koroberi refreshed its branding to ensure that its messaging was as advanced as its offering and to make sure that people know Zethcon is more than its flagship Synapse warehouse management solution. In addition to retaining clients such as Zethcon (the agency’s clients stay an average of 10 years), Koroberi added companies including Hyster-Yale Group and Weatherguard Roofing to its roster.
HAS WORKED WITH: 33Health, Eco-Site, Teleflex, Werum IT Solutions America, Yale Materials Handling, Zethcon WEBSITE: koroberi.com RFP CONTACT: Natalie Curtis, [email protected]
At the start of 2020, brand consulting and strategic design agency Landor and experience design and retail consultancy FITCH combined to form one entity under WPP. That translates to expanded access to end-to-end brand experience capabilities for clients. To give you an idea of their talent, the combined agencies won 33 awards at MEA 2020. For Italian startup bank Illimity, which incorporates AI, machine learning and human interaction into its services, Landor named the brand and designed a corporate identity and platform to reflect its disruptive model. And for another financial client, Soldo, it crafted a new brand positioning and look that radiated color and light, signifying the brand’s mission of clarifying the complexities of business spending. New business landed: a brand transformation strategy for Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie.
HAS WORKED WITH: British Airways, BMW, Kellogg’s, Old Spice, Petbarn, S&P Global, Volvic WEBSITE: landor.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Laundry Service has kept busy in 2020, delivering excellent work per usual while adapting campaigns to the current moment. When COVID-19 disrupted graduation plans for Historically Black College and Universities, it teamed up with Hennessy and DJ D-Nice to host an official after-party on Instagram live for the graduating classes. The event celebrated the milestone while also raising funds for grads. For Nike and Foot Locker retailer House of Hoops, it launched a new positioning in 2020, anchored by the tagline “Built By The Game,” with video content posted the day the NBA returned from its hiatus. And for Dockers, it leaned into the brand’s sustainability mission with a “Work Forward” campaign featuring surfer and humanitarian Jon Rose. Docker’s “water<less” process and Rose’s mission to provide clean drinking water through his nonprofit Waves for Water was a perfect fit.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon Music, Bose, Dockers, Hennessy, KIND WEBSITE: 247laundryservice.com
RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
This one-stop shop for B2B marketing and demand gen specializes in serving B2B technology and professional services companies. It offers marketing strategy, branding and creative, web design, social media, marketing automation, and more. Founded by Shannon Prager in 2008 after leaving a career in B2B tech marketing, this agency’s success hinges on its deep knowledge of buyers and markets acquired from 25 years of experience. “Leadit is professional and on the cutting edge of marketing technology,” said client Bay Mountain Capital. “They’ve vastly improved our lead generation processes and reporting,” said another.
HAS WORKED WITH: Atlassian, Fujitsu, Loggly, Market One, Serena Capital WEBSITE: leaditmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
LeadMD uses its own model, the Catalyst Marketing Framework, to align clients’ outcomes to their companies’ objectives through strategy, planning, tactics, technology and talent. Services include sales and marketing consulting, managed services, system implementation, content marketing, ROI models and more, each with a focus on revenue acceleration. Some recent work of note: When Comcast Spotlight decided to embrace Marketo’s marketing automation capabilities, LeadMD developed and implemented training best practices to bridge gaps in knowledge across the company. It also consolidated disparate communication tools within the 11 business regions of Unit4, an enterprise applications provider for thousands of organizations. When COVID-19 hit, LeadMD launched the Arizona Local Impact Fund with Invest Southwest and StartupAZ Foundation to benefit small businesses. Despite the industry’s challenges, LeadMD onboarded new clients Sunrun, InVision, CME Group and Seismic Software this year and reported an increase in revenue of 50 percent year-over-year.
HAS WORKED WITH: Accenture, Comcast Spotlight, Davita Healthcare, Unit4, Yodlee WEBSITE: leadmd.com RFP CONTACT: leadmd.com/contact/
This agency continued to expand its virtual events and technology division during the past year, which proved propitious as the pandemic transformed the events industry. To ensure that AutoZone’s virtual vendor summit engaged attendees to the same degree as previous in-person conferences had, LEO Events enabled networking via live chat as well as digitally produced sessions, live panels, and an awards ceremony via the LEO studio. The shop also launched a public events and festivals division and a full-service digital division in 2020. And with Memphis Tourism, it introduced CANVAS, a peer network of brand and events experts that in October held a virtual gathering focused on reinventing the events industry.
HAS WORKED WITH: Hilton, Nando’s, Nissan, Shaw Industries, Sherwin-Williams, Walmart WEBSITE: leoevents.com RFP CONTACT: Cindy Brewer, [email protected]
Likeable brings together strategic consulting, a full-service production studio enabling content creation and the ability to connect with audiences through paid media strategies, influencer marketing and community management. They call their services “Likeable Content Cubed.” It’s also recently gotten into branded social programming to reflect consumers’ movement from traditional TV to episodic formats on social. Winning work includes community management for Party City, an influencer mom-led campaign on Instagram for Lysol and a full-funnel paid social strategy for Great Wolf Lodge that achieved a conversion ROAS for past guests that was 86 percent above historical benchmarks. Another thing we love: Likeable’s podcast, “All the Social Ladies,” featuring stories and advice from smart women in marketing and advertising.
HAS WORKED WITH: Century 21, Lysol, Party City, S&P Global, Stop & Shop WEBSITE: likeable.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
MAC Presents was founded in 2004 by Marcie Allen, a trailblazing force who knows how to link brands with bands. (Billboard agreed and named her to its Power 100 List.) Take its work for Citi, which has co-sponsored the culinary-focused Taste of the Nation event series benefitting No Kid Hungry since 2014. MAC Presents has matched musical acts including the X Ambassadors, The Shadowboxers, Caitlyn Smith and Betty Who to the events, where the talent served as influencers and encouraged attendees to raise additional funds. And for an activation at SXSW, it linked artist Khalid—a frequent MAC Presents partner—to Uber Eats for a special performance, earning the agency a Billboard Concert Marketing & Promotion Award. Fun fact: Allen and husband Derek Van Mol co-run the Nashville-based coffee and CBD shop Anzie Blue while continuing to cut brand partnership deals for MAC Presents.
HAS WORKED WITH: Citi, Hollister, Kenzo, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Southwest Airlines WEBSITE: macpresents.com RFP CONTACT: Marci Allen, [email protected]
A content marketing-focused agency with inbound marketing, web design and advertising strategy capabilities, madison/miles media has been described by clients as the agency to turn to for small businesses looking to expand their presence in the digital space. “They ask questions to get to the root of our goals, offering direction and proactive strategy that takes us a step beyond what we initially considered,” says one client. Industries include healthcare, media, manufacturing, technology and more.
HAS WORKED WITH: Aventis Systems, ID Shop, Medical Informatics Corp., StoveTop FireStop, Texas Instruments WEBSITE: madisonmilesmedia.com RFP CONTACT: Mario Medina, [email protected]
True to the definition of manifold, this team is made up of “many kinds with different parts, elements and features.” These brand experience experts, who hail from both the agency and client realms, double as ski instructors, supper club hosts, music festival attendees, surfers and Japanese toy makers. The agency earned accolades for producing the hyper-personalized Swell by Ripple conference, leaning on customer stories, community-building tactics and experience design to engage top financial services professionals. The campaign garnered 8.2 million Twitter impressions and 3.5 million media impressions. Also earned Gold at the 2020 Ex Awards for its work on GitHub Universe, a software development “unconference.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Bumble, Constellation Brand, Ripple, SoftBank, Zillow Group WEBSITE: wearemanifold.com RFP CONTACT: Lauren Worley, [email protected]
Forget “Netflix and chill.” To drive restaurant takeout traffic and support restaurant re-openings during the summer of COVID, Marden-Kane created the “Spaghetti & Chill” sweepstakes for the Old Spaghetti Factory. Consumers who posted a photo of their takeout meal on either Facebook or Instagram with the dedicated hashtag were eligible to win a $75 gift card to the restaurant chain. The brand’s social engagement increased 35 percent as a result. Specializing in sweepstakes and skill contests as well as continuity and loyalty programs, the agency won a number of new clients this year, including Gildan and Viking Cruises.
HAS WORKED WITH: Autodesk, Coca-Cola, Google, Intuit, Massachusetts Port Authority, US Bank WEBSITE: mardenkane.com RFP CONTACT: Marty Glovin, [email protected]
Latinx woman-owned and operated, with a crew of creative, diverse women, the agency helps clients thrive in the digital marketing space while it advocates for environmental and societal change. It works with sustainable B-Corp companies and prioritizes woman/minority-owned organizations and businesses to support while combatting conscious and unconscious racist tendencies, like characters’ skin tone in illustrations and photos. Highlights include partnering with Paradigm Treatment to deliver digital marketing solutions in mental health and wellness for teens, and #ConnectEffect, an Instagram Live partnership to cultivate a sense of togetherness while sharing the inspiring effects of connecting live.
HAS WORKED WITH: Eleve Health, Paradigm Treatment, Second Son Consulting, Tichenor & Thorp Architects
RFP CONTACT: Rachel Nelson, [email protected]
With more than 25 years of experience under its belt, Chicago-based Marketing Resources specializes in collect-to-win games, employee trade promotions, sweepstakes and loyalty programs. It follows a four-step “IDEA” methodology: Identifying the unique proposition and purpose, Developing an on-brand campaign, Executing and Analyzing. Clients love the firm’s data tool, which allows them to view their program metrics in real time, all in one place. And an employee of the month “high-five” program rewards top-performing team members with gift cards, the shop’s official high-five trophy and bragging rights.
HAS WORKED WITH: Aunt Jemima, Doritos, Mountain Dew, Papa John’s, Pepsi WEBSITE: marketingresources.com RFP CONTACT: Kyla Traina, [email protected]
Keurig was about to tour the East Coast to show off its latest workplace coffee brewers when COVID-19 shut down most workplaces. Rather than cancel the campaign, Marketing Werks reconfigured it to serve up Keurig coffee in a coffeehouse setting to medical professionals at hospitals. Within two weeks it had developed new policies and procedures for sanitization and distancing, sourced branded PPE for its crew, and redesigned the menu to minimize wait time for the more than 7,000 healthcare workers served. This sort of agility no doubt helped the agency win new clients including Clorox.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bayer/Soresto, Bridgestone/Firestone Tires, Keurig Dr Pepper, Kraft Heinz, Univision, US Cellular WEBSITE: marketingwerks.com RFP CONTACT: Cari DeVille-Wilber, [email protected]
“Shopper marketing is about driving conversion,” regardless of channel, says Rich Butwinick, MarketingLab’s founder and president. Among MarketingLab’s solutions for shopper marketing clients: identifying key touchpoints to drive conversion; cross-platform planning and deployment; a retail and vendor digital capability database; creative services; an ecommerce evaluation tool; and a brand communications audit. The latter solution, dubbed SellCheck, was employed to evaluate the in-store creative of Scott’s Miracle-Gro. Using the tool’s behavioral science feedback, MarketingLab developed new in-store creative that educated shoppers while appealing to plant parents’ desire to grow and nurture their plant babies.
HAS WORKED WITH: Barilla, Delta, Scott’s Miracle-Gro, Summer’s Eve, Twin Cities Orthopedics WEBSITE: marketinglab.com RFP CONTACT: Kate Mendel, [email protected]
When insurance and benefits broker HUB added retirement planning to its service mix, the company enlisted McMillan to reposition its message with a follow-up to its original brand manifesto video—which McM itself had created in 2016 alongside a new website, online experiences and demand generation campaigns. A few wins this year: Employee benefits firm Pareto Health selected McM as its brand experience agency; healthcare software company HST Pathways came to the agency for a visual refresh and to lead its marketing campaigns; and MJ Freeway, a platform that tracks cannabis production, took on McM on as a creative partner.
HAS WORKED WITH: Commvault, Shepherds of Good Hope, Tesla, Trend Micro, United Rentals WEBSITE: mcmillan.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Acquired by Stadiumred Group in March, Mediakix has produced more than 20,000 sponsored placements across social and digital platforms during the decade it’s been in business. A key strength is research capabilities, published consistently on its blog. As a new addition to Stadiumred, Mediakix taps into additional reach made possible by its four sister agencies, including experiential house Creative Riff. Some recent success: The shop created influencer content for Fairmont Hotels around family, adventure, food and culture that garnered 26 million social impressions, with 41 percent of comments tagging a friend. Now that’s influence.
HAS WORKED WITH: Blue Apron, ExxonMobil, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Hallmark, Sony Home Entertainment WEBSITE: mediakix.com RFP CONTACT: Zoe Marans, [email protected]
This is one agency not for the faint of heart. While it works with clients for short-term marketing (ROI), design and omni-channel needs, it also has its eye on a bigger goal—creating new markets where they can lead. Merit calls the strategy Market Invention, (others say it’s challenger marketing on steroids), and it has the strategy, hard work, imagination, data measurement, experience testing, trend analysis, innovation workshops, process optimization and stewardship to support it. Take spunky little Harrisburg University, which wanted to create the premier collegiate esports program in the nation. Thanks to Merit, it’s now a global esports destination.
HAS WORKED WITH: Carahsoft Technology, Dayton Parts, Domani Wealth, Reading Truck Group, The Voith Group WEBSITE: madewithmerit.com RFP CONTACT: Alex Rhodes, [email protected]
MERKLE PROMOTION AND LOYALTY SOLUTIONS (FORMERLY HELLOWORLD)
Formerly HelloWorld, Merkle got its start in 1999 when only the cool kids did digital promotions. The shop now leverages data, technology and analytics to make clients’ campaigns more addressable and personalized. Its internal Project Trailblazer initiative invites anyone with an idea that would advance the industry to pitch it to an innovation panel, “Shark Tank”-style—the winner gets a $5,000 check. The team also snagged a 2020 Inclusive Culture & Marketing Award from Microsoft Advertising. And client Bed Bath & Beyond may say it best: “They have been a partner since 2010 and deliver reliable, ethical and consistent service in all areas.”
HAS WORKED WITH: AARP, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, Starbucks WEBSITE: merkleinc.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Founded in 1999 on the idea that design and technology create value for business, Method offers myriad programs supporting that philosophy, such as product acceleration; launches informed by customer insights and data intelligence; identification of future business opportunities; and upskilling of design and tech teams. Notable work includes the transformation of video game publisher Ubisoft into a global entertainment brand and a new product experience and value proposition designed for analytics company Elsevier. Offices are located in London, Silicon Valley and New York. Method welcomed Abraham Espinosa to the latter location as Design Director earlier this year.
HAS WORKED WITH: Costa Coffee, Elsevier, Hitachi, Lush, McDonald’s, Ubisoft WEBSITE: method.com RFP CONTACT: Alicia Bergin, [email protected]
Just about everyone loves to see David take on Goliath, and B2B agency Metis Communications leaned into that with its campaign launching Hey, Basecamp’s email service; An entire page of Hey’s website is dedicated to how the company is taking on Apple’s “anti-competitive” App Store demands. Metis also helped clients such as tech solutions provider Glyptodon Enterprises shift their messaging in response to the pandemic, emphasizing how they could support other businesses that had to transition to remote work practically overnight. The shop tapped into the zeitgeist with its marketing for the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum, framing the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Provincetown as a story of unity and shared purpose.
Manhattan during the Gilded Age is as much a lead character in TNT’s series The Alienist as any of the human characters. Tapping into this, Mirrored Media’s campaign for the second-season premiere in July 2020 featured iconic New York brands including Delmonico’s (the restaurant where more than a few scenes take place) and Bergdorf Goodman. Mailers with products reminiscent of the era were sent to influencers such as Heather Dubrow and Dorothy Wang, and TNT commissioned Delmonico’s to deliver special three-course meals to hundreds of local healthcare workers. The agency also produced numerous livestreams and virtual screenings as it helped clients, many in the entertainment industry, adapt to the pandemic’s restrictions on in-person gatherings.
HAS WORKED WITH: BMW, Focus Features, Mattel, Rogers & Cowan, UTA, WarnerMedia WEBSITE: mirroredmedia.com RFP CONTACT: Jeannette Oakes, [email protected]
Part of the Acceleration Community of Companies (ACC), MKG specializes in brand experiences (live and virtual), content development and sponsorship/partnership strategies and activations for businesses targeting millennials and Gen Z. For one such brand, Lululemon, the female-owned and -operated shop enabled 10 of the retailer’s LGBTQ+ employees to workshop their personal stories into narratives released via social platforms throughout Pride Month, generating more than one million views and raising funds for the Trevor Project and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. New MKG clients include Tropicana and Maui Moisture, and it became an agency of record for Facebook and Dos Equis.
HAS WORKED WITH: Delta Airlines, Google, Heineken/Dos Equis, Netflix, Target, Warby Parker WEBSITE: thisismkg.com RFP CONTACT: Christine Capone, [email protected]
28-year-old MKTG is comprised of 1,300 employees and 7,000 brand ambassadors across 29 global offices. For the premiere of “McMillions,” it worked with HBO to take Sundance attendees on an interactive journey that allowed them to dig deeper into the true story behind the famous McDonald’s Monopoly scandal, and win ’90s-themed prizes by literally peeling back the layers of a wall within the brand’s lounge. Also helped Johnnie Walker brighten spirits over the holidays with a gifting boutique that invited consumers to “stir up their senses.” And when working with IBM at the US Open, it gave virtual tennis fans the in-stadium experience, including recreating ambient crowd noise.
HAS WORKED WITH: Beats by Dre, Diageo, Nike, RJ Reynolds, Toyota WEBSITE: mktg.com RFP CONTACT: Kim Barrett, [email protected]
Putting “market before marketing” is one way in which this agency aims to set itself apart. For Habasit America, a manufacturer of lightweight conveyor belt solutions, that meant identifying specific verticals before launching its Line Between Farm & Table campaign, which encompassed everything from landing pages and emails to direct mail and sales decks. The campaign contributed to a 10 percent growth in category sales, with 63 percent of leads sourced digitally compared with just 35 percent the previous year. Another campaign, for data provider Equifax’s automotive business unit, began with customer journey mapping and led to an 83 percent year-over-year increase in marketing qualified leads and a 32 percent boost in revenue.
The pandemic forced many businesses to do a 180 in terms of marketing this year. To help its clients handle the shift, this full-service integrated marketing agency created OneEighty, a series of virtual panel sessions in which experts share relevant insights. For Michelob, Mosaic North America created MOVEMENT by Michelob ULTRA LIVE, in which the beer brand partnered with fitness studios to offer weekly virtual workouts and raise funds for the shuttered gyms. For fellow beer brand Stella Artois it developed a weekly digital content series, shot by a remote crew, that including cooking demos by Marcus Samuelsson and Eva Longoria and a program to drive sales of gift cards to temporarily-shut restaurants.
HAS WORKED WITH: Anheuser-Busch, Chelan Fresh, Google, Life Cuisine, Nestlé, Uber Eats WEBSITE: mosaic.com RFP CONTACT: Angel Scheid, [email protected]
Motive isn’t just an event agency with decades of combined experience across a variety of marketing and advertising channels, it’s also “fun as hell” to work with. The shop operates six independent, interdependent studios, each with expertise in one area, like experiential and cultural insights. It took 2020 in stride, pivoting Pepsi’s massive Rams pregame event for fans in L.A. into the first-ever fan-less concert. Helped catapult LIFEWTR’s mission to save art education through community art initiatives, including the transformation of dilapidated barns into vibrant works of art—40,867 students were impacted by the program.
HAS WORKED WITH: Dick’s Sporting Goods, La Mer, Lululemon, Moet & Chandon, PepsiCo WEBSITE: thinkmotive.com RFP CONTACT: Krista Nicholson, [email protected]
Demand generation serving healthcare and B2B clients is the focus of this Chicago-based agency. To achieve measurable business growth, it relies on branding, lead generation and customer engagement as drivers. Some examples of work: Food processing equipment company Provisur needed a fresh way to market its new virtual repair system, so it turned to Movéo for help. The result was a dimensional direct mailer in the form of a bobblehead customized to look like a Provisur technician. The mailer complemented a campaign with lead gen email, a landing page and sales enablement materials. To raise the profile of Landis+Gyr, a Toshiba-owned product supplier for utility companies, the agency conceived of and tested four value propositions in a study that informed a multi-year campaign. The result was an exponential increase of the Landis+Gyr’s contact database.
HAS WORKED WITH: Abbott, Careerbuilder, Hallstar, Landis + Gyr, Molex, Provisur Technologies WEBSITE: moveo.com RFP CONTACT: moveo.com/contact
This shop knows TikTok. How do we know? Look no further than the platform’s most viral campaign in its history, the #eyeslipsface challenge for e.l.f. Cosmetics. Using an original music track, Movers & Shakers’ campaign inspired five million user-generated videos—including content from celebrities Lizzo, Ellen and Reese Witherspoon—and a whopping six billion views. Another music-led campaign for Match.com, consisting of a mini-musical for YouTube, raked in more engagement than all of the brand’s other YouTube content combined. And for Amazon Prime Student, college students shared college hacks en masse. We’re talking a billion views in just two days. Not too shabby.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon, e.l.f. Cosmetics, Little Tikes, Match.com, Warner Bros WEBSITE: moversshakers.co RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
This independent agency focuses on six specialties: buildings and construction, energy and sustainability, financial services, healthcare, new moms and travel and tourism. The last sector was hard-hit by the pandemic, but Mower pivoted its clients’ tourism marketing into PR campaigns and thought leadership content to put them in a strong position for recovery. In the healthcare sector, Mower created with Iroquois Healthcare Association the integrated Caring Gene campaign to increase the number of applicants for long-term care jobs. The successful launch in upstate New York, with more than 25,000 website visitors in its first six weeks, led to the campaign being expanded across the state.
HAS WORKED WITH: Carestream Dental, City of Charlotte, FirstEnergy Corp., Ford, KeyBank, National Grid WEBSITE: mower.com RFP CONTACT: Christine Steenstra. [email protected]
Operating at the intersection of creative agency and production house, woman-owned N/A is an experiential shop that specializes in launch events, viral marketing and B2B shows. In the wake of COVID-19, the team launched Can Help / Needs Help, a platform that matches people who need help with the event professionals who can provide it through their various skillsets. Also produced Nike’s nighttime Rivalry Run campaign which revved up The Ohio State University for its football game against the University of Michigan with a foot race featuring an appearance by the school’s mascot, Brutus Buckeye, as well as the Buckeye cheerleaders, custom light installations and flag bearers.
HAS WORKED WITH: Jaybird, Nike, Sennheiser, Tinder, Twitter WEBSITE: na-collective.com RFP CONTACT: Chiara Adin, [email protected]
When COVID-19 began affecting its clients, Nelson Schmidt sprang into action: The agency worked with each one to create a custom “respond, reimagine and rebound” plan. For the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), this included the multiphase “We’re All In” initiative to assist businesses and residents throughout the state. Within weeks of its launch, the website had attracted more than 65,000 unique visitors, and the campaign evolved over time to keep up with the pandemic. Despite the year’s tumult, Nelson Schmidt acquired a half-dozen new clients, including vehicle manufacturer REV Group and Wisconsin PGA.
HAS WORKED WITH: Magnetrol, ModWash, Panduit, Pentair, REV Group, Whirlpool Corp WEBSITE: nelsonschmidt.com RFP CONTACT: Christopher Vitrano, [email protected]
Clients say this shop does their homework to truly understand their pain points. Indeed, it’s all about the long game with New Breed. Another strength: strong communication of the data-driven results achieved by the agency/client partnership which in turn translates to continued long-term growth for brands. This shop has a collection of experts in conversion optimization, web development and marketing and sales operations, and services include SEO, blog writing, website strategy, content development, conversion optimization, inbound marketing and sales enablement. For Blue Software, New Breed’s lifecycle marketing program increased conversion rates by 65 percent by aligning marketing and sales teams and automating the company’s lead generation and nurture processes. On top of that, the agency built an SEO and content strategy for the client that increased new website users by 36 percent.
HAS WORKED WITH: Big Commerce, Bizible, Kalibrate, Shoretel, Vidyard WEBSITE: newbreedmarketing.com RFP CONTACT:newbreedmarketing.com/contact-new-breed
Marketing to college students and Generation Z is the specialty of this agency, which boasts a database of more than 240,000 university clubs and a reach of more than six million students. As well as working with brands to gain new customers and sales—as with its L.L. Bean Bootmobile tour and pop-up shops—Newbridge helps them create successful job recruitment programs. When the pandemic cut short its Grilled Cheese Nation food-truck tour for Miyoko, the shop adapted the program to serve 1,500 sandwiches a week for 12 weeks to essential workers and disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area.
HAS WORKED WITH: Apple, CBS All Access, Kroger, LinkedIn, Starbucks, Timberland WEBSITE: newbridgemg.com RFP CONTACT: TJ Nolan, [email protected]
“Anywhere Is Possible” might have been an ill-timed name for a promotional tour that was shortened due to COVID-19. Nonetheless Next Marketing made it work for General Tire, in part by implementing new safety protocols. The agency managed to activate a dozen events featuring vehicles that showed how the brand’s tires weren’t just for off-road vehicles, generating more than 10,000 consumer sales leads along the way. Beyond such client work, the agency and two partner companies formed Tour Health in 2020, a field-based medical testing company that administered more than 250,000 COVID tests (and counting) on behalf of the University of Mississippi and the states of South Carolina and Florida, among others.
HAS WORKED WITH: Ford, HP, Mahindra, Nestlé Waters, US Air Force, Weber WEBSITE: nextmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Henry Rischitelli, [email protected]
This fast-growing, Chicago-based experiential design studio connects audiences to brands through cutting-edge tech like projection mapping, 3D animation, VR and AR, multitouch surfaces and motion sensors. Its graphic design chops are on display in new work for Michelin in the form of a virtual product launch event to unveil the brand’s new CrossClimate 2 tires. And for Pandora, it built a photo brand activation using personalized motion graphics that responded to users’ mood, musical preferences and name. Explore “The Lab” section on its website for examples of the agency’s creative experiments, R&D work and “weird computer art.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Aveda, NBA, Chevron, Intel, John Deere, McDonald’s, Molex, Pandora WEBSITE: nextnowagency.com RFP CONTACT: Randy Gress, [email protected]
To founder and chief strategist Allen Martinez, the future is grounded in tech that touches the hearts and minds of audiences and drives them to action. As a result, everything here starts with a Noble Data Matrix Appraisal, a data assessment tool that identifies opportunities and statistics, then combines data, strategy, analytics and creativity into brand stories. Noble deployed the tool for Mutual of Omaha’s “Adulting is Hard” campaign to come up with messaging for ads, a landing page and online videos. The result was a very noble additional 20X lift on customer acquisition.
HAS WORKED WITH: Biohm Health, Fundrise, Mutual of Omaha, New Balance, Shift 4 Payments WEBSITE: nobledigital.com RFP CONTACT: Sheila Landsman, [email protected]
Octagon boasts a global team of more than 1,000 sports and entertainment experts in 22 countries. During COVID times this shop has adapted its offerings to include partnership impact assessments; virtual experiences and hosting programs; and consulting services to guide brands’ return to sports events. Its in-house augmented reality platform, Go AR, enables interactive experiences that blend digital and physical worlds on consumers’ own devices, while its own streaming platform will support all-virtual campaigns. Contactless food trucks, drive-in entertainment and unboxing experiences are a few socially-distanced options it offers. Pre-COVID work worthy of praise: the BudX Miami experience at Super Bowl LIV, which was blessed by Event Marketer with an Ex Award for Best Sports Activation. The largest marketing and influencer event in AB InBev’s history welcomed 200 attendees to the BudX Hotel for three days of music concerts, content-driven experiences and events. Most recently, Octagon worked with client Under Armour and NBA star Stephen Curry to build out his new collaboration, Curry Brand.
HAS WORKED WITH: AB InBev, All State, BMW, Cisco, General Mills, Mastercard, Taco Bell WEBSITE: octagon.com RFP CONTACT: Lisa Murray, [email protected]
In-person activations have always been a huge element of this agency’s DNA—it created the on-mountain music and pro-snowboarding events that would become a qualifying series for the X-Games. Yet it handled the shift to virtual experiences with aplomb, building out an in-house technology team that has produced more than 350 remote shoots since March. These included @ShowMeYourWalk for Chase, and two virtual graduation celebrations that included appearances from Barack Obama, Serena Williams and Kevin Hart, and generated 2.1 million concurrent livestream views. OBE also served as the incubator of Think TRUE, a Black-owned and minority-led marketing consultancy that launched in August 2020.
HAS WORKED WITH: Activision, Facebook, Intuit, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Kellogg’s, Nike/Converse WEBSITE: obexp.com RFP CONTACT: Dylan Foster, [email protected]
Taking a digital-first approach to experiential marketing in response to the pandemic, Opus Agency has bolstered its digital offerings, providing clients with everything from UX design to digital experience training to animation. For one client it transformed an in-person 40th-anniversary celebration to a fully realized virtual experience in just 12 days. The three-day event included on-demand classes in 22 languages, a live awards broadcast translated into 11 languages, social platforms for networking, virtual live and silent auctions benefiting charity, and a “nightclub” complete with DJs. In-house, Kim Kopetz was named president of the agency; she started her career at Opus in 1998 and served most recently as chief growth officer.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, YouTube WEBSITE: opusagency.com RFP CONTACT: Kristin Waters, [email protected]
A founding member of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, Padilla is comprised of food and nutrition communications firm FoodMinds, brand consultancy Joe Smith and SMS Research Advisors. This breadth and depth enables the agency to provide integrated services for B2B organizations in sectors ranging from enterprise software to drilling equipment. When Outlier, a provider of automated business analysis (ABA) tools, wanted to improve brand awareness and website conversions, Padilla looked beyond those immediate goals to position the CEO as a thought leader in the emerging ABA category. Coverage in the Wall Street Journal, among other outlets, gave Outlier an immediate profile boost. Just as important, because the CEO is now established as an expert, the company continues to grow brand awareness.
HAS WORKED WITH: 3M, Cargill, Ditch Witch, Medtronic, Polaris, Rockwell Automation WEBSITE: padillaco.com RFP CONTACT: Amy Fisher, [email protected]
Clients love Paragraphs’ straightforward working style. “They complete tasks efficiently and quickly… I trust them to do what they say, and that they will build an exciting brand for us, helping us achieve our profitability goals,” says the chief commercial officer at Prime 360. And he should know. Paragraphs developed a new name, logo, tagline, website, video and corporate identity for Prime360, which came about after the merger of two companies. And that’s just one example. These Chicago-based branding experts have won more than 1,500 awards from 25 global organizations, including Best Branding Agency 2020 by Digital.com.
Perficient Digital offers digital consulting services to clients from the automotive, consumer markets, energy, financial services, healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing and telecommunications industries. Work worth mentioning: It helped Stallion Oilfield Services onboard an enterprise-wide cloud-based solution to support new financial and supply chain management requirements. Using a streamlined solution from Oracle, Perficient Digital converted 40 systems to just two. Accolades this year include a top workplace award in Minneapolis and Atlanta, a Microsoft Health Innovation award and an IAC award for Best Consumer Goods Website. We love its “Make a December Difference” give-back program, which entailed giving each of its 4,500 employees across 25 global offices $100 to give away to a healthcare worker, first responder or a stranger in need.
HAS WORKED WITH: Esurance, Henry Ford Health System, Herbalife Nutrition, Stallion, The Park at Wrigley WEBSITE: perficientdigital.com RFP CONTACT: perficient.com/contact
In business since 1986, this family-run agency creates brand experiences in the following categories: ride and drives, mobile exhibits, press conferences, retail promotions, hospitality events and more, with particular expertise in the motorsports industry. Bonus: It has print shop capabilities for making graphics and banners in-house and handles display element fabrication as well. PMG follows this simple mantra: Listen. Develop. Execute. At the start of 2020, the team worked a 24-hour race in Daytona for Rolex, a ride and drive launch of two new products for Goodyear in Denver and back to Daytona for the 500. Deemed of business-critical importance for client Medtronic, PMG’s surgical training programs were reenacted even while COVID-19 was in full swing. The shop added Terumo Cardiovascular as a new client this year. Accolades include a Silver Ex Award from Event Marketer and a Gold PRO Award from Chief Marketer.
HAS WORKED WITH: General Motors, International Motor Sports Association, Medtronic, Nitto Tire & Rubber, NTT IndyCar Series, Roche Diagnostics WEBSITE: pmginc.com RFP CONTACT: Bill Bissmeyer, [email protected]
Enterprise technology, healthcare and life sciences are this agency’s sweet spot. An example is its work for biotech firm bluebird bio, an organization that offers treatments that recode the faults in our genes. To reflect the company’s innovative and unconventional ethos, PJA delivered a new look, feel and brand voice that included a custom typeface, a bold, “painted-on” color scheme and a call-to-action compelling customers to “recode the story.” Also worth noting: PJA recently created the Boston Uncornered Photo Project Exhibit pro bono in partnership with Boston Uncornered, Boston Seaport by WS Development and photographer John Huet. The installation’s 30 oversized black-and-white photographs of reformed gang members and public figures stands as a reminder of our shared humanity and the fight against systemic racism.
HAS WORKED WITH: Ace Hardware, Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island, Brother, Chase, Enterprise, GE WEBSITE: agencypja.com RFP CONTACT: agencypja.com/contact
When the pandemic forced brick-and-mortar stores to shut, retailers had to figure out how to recover that lost revenue—fast. Luckily for Old Navy, it was able to turn to PMG, whose motto is “Digital Made for Humans.” By conducting incremental forecasting, scaling the budget frequently, and then pivoting again to drive-to-store marketing and location-targeting tactics once stores started reopening, the agency helped Old Navy increase online sales 136 percent and generate nearly three million store visits. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, PMG is on pace for double-digit growth for 2020, following 51 percent in 2019, and has boosted its headcount 20 percent.
HAS WORKED WITH: Best Western, Gap Inc., Ralph Lauren, Sephora, SurveyMonkey, TikTok WEBSITE: pmg.com RFP CONTACT: Parks Blackwell, [email protected]
More than just a B2B specialist, Point to Point is a digital advertising agency specializing in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturing clients typically do not have sizable marketing budgets, but you wouldn’t know that from Point to Point’s campaigns. For instance, a beautifully shot video for industrial adhesive manufacturer Loctite showed two 3,000-pound loads hoisted 130 feet in the air. The one fastened with Loctite’s Threadlocker held; the other, secured only with an industrial screw, dramatically crashed to the ground. The video garnered more than 5.3 million views, with sales exceeding expectations.
HAS WORKED WITH:Cornerstone Building Brands, Embedded Planet, Ferguson, Henkel Corp., Sherwin-Williams, Surface Resources WEBSITE: pointtopoint.com RFP CONTACT: Megan Kacvinsky, [email protected]
What’s new at PrizeLogic? Plenty. During the past year it launched a half-dozen flexible turnkey sweepstakes, UGC and gift-with-purchase solutions that it dubbed Quick Picks. The shop also gave clients the ability to choose from more than 60 already-identified audiences for their promotions, which it says has boosted performance up to 10x. What’s more, brands can now incorporate into their programs a “buy now” functionality that links directly to retailers, as well as take advantage of PrizeLogic’s partnerships with Amazon Moments, HyperWallet and Sportradar. And did we mention that the shop won seven Chief Marketer PRO Awards this year? Those included the Platinum PRO, for best overall campaign, for its Ally + Monopoly augmented-reality board game.
HAS WORKED WITH: Kia, Lowe’s, MolsonCoors, PepsiCo, Samsung, T-Mobile WEBSITE: prizelogic.com RFP CONTACT: Aaron Lobliner, [email protected]
Taking pride in generating long-term ROI rather than one-off social media wins, Project Bionic gets the job done through consistency, planning and agency-wide collaboration. The full-service shop offers strategy and consulting, event management, promotional contests and social advertising—to name just a few capabilities. They crafted an influencer program for power massager brand TimTam that garnered a 131 percent increase in follower growth. And for Amazon Kindle, the team used LinkedIn advertising to land B2B leads from organizations interested in purchasing large amounts of e-books for employees or clients. The campaign delivered leads that were 30 percent lower than Amazon’s target cost-per-acquisition. Cha-ching.
HAS WORKED WITH: Almond Roca, Amazon Kindle, Nalgene, Taco Time, TimTam WEBSITE: projectbionic.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
When it comes to retail brand activations Propac gets kudos for creativity, quality, value and communication. Take last year’s retailtainment experience for PepsiCo’s Brisk iced tea: Propac snagged prime real estate for its one-liter bottles at 300 Walmarts where costumed Brisk brand ambassadors greeted guests who spun a wheel for Brisk-branded swag. Or how about those 1,200 virtual Steve’s ice cream socials? The effort led to 13.9 million delicious impressions and 100,000 posts and comments. We’ll take three scoops.
HAS WORKED WITH: Baylor Scott & White, Dean Foods, Frito-Lay N. Am., PepsiCo, Quaker Tropicana Gatorade WEBSITE: propac.agency RFP CONTACT: Chase Daigle, [email protected]
Services fall under four key solution areas: brand and activation, marketing and sales, organization and culture, and experience and innovation. Here’s how that plays out in its work: rebranding Vietnamese hotel Nam Nghi as an eco-luxury travel destination; devising a more agile, customer-centric marketing strategy for Gardena; and scaling Polestar’s workforce training to ensure a consistent customer experience. It added three new hires to its New York office: David Novak as senior partner to focus on digital transformation of marketing and sales; Holly Mason, also senior partner, brought on to support clients’ digital aspirations; and Amy Silverstein, joining as senior partner and CFO. DEI efforts are a big focus for the company in the coming months as it works with outside firm Collective to inform its evolving DEI strategy. Honored by Consulting Magazine with a “Best Firm to Work For” award.
HAS WORKED WITH: Canoo, Colgate, Gardena, Polestar, U.S. Women’s National Team, Walmart WEBSITE: prophet.com RFP CONTACT: Catherine Strotmeyer, [email protected]
If, as our ol’ friend Shakespeare claims, all the world’s a stage, then perhaps no one is better prepared to lead businesses and brands through the drama of experiential marketing than Proscenium. As they put it, “Any interaction between a brand and an audience (even an audience of one) is theater,” and New York City-based Proscenium has the creative directors and production chops to pull it off on time, on budget and with panache. These days it’s added virtual events to the playbill for some of the world’s biggest brands. Bravo!
HAS WORKED WITH: Harley-Davidson, Heineken, T-Mobile, TD Ameritrade, Walmart WEBSITE: proscenium.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Publicis.Sapient, the digital transformation arm of Publicis Groupe, describes its capabilities with the acronym SPEED: a combination of strategy, product, experience, engineering and data. This year it promoted Kameshwari Rao to Global Chief People Officer, a move that will increase emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as corporate social responsibility initiatives. Recently it reimagined a restaurant chain’s mobile app to appeal to younger, more tech-savvy consumers, with features like a “waitlist generation” button and pay-in-app capabilities. The design reduced steps to checkout by 50 percent and is forecasted to generate one million dollars in sales. To boot, it landed a multi-year collaboration with Goldman Sachs Bank USA to support the roll-out of the bank’s new, all-digital payment platform.
HAS WORKED WITH: Carrefour, Goldman Sachs, Nestle Nissan, Tequila Patron, Walmart WEBSITE: publicissapient.com
RFP CONTACT: publicissapient.com/contact/contact-form
With digital transformation at the heart of this global company’s service offerings, whether its business strategy, digital experiences, brand storytelling or tapping into emerging technologies, 2020 was the year to put it to the test. And R/GA passed with flying colors. For instance, R/GA São Paulo launched a campaign for Neutrogena, called “It’s not guessing, it’s science,” centered around demystifying doubts consumers have about the efficacy of skin care. The strategy, which involved posing questions to the brand’s scientists on Facebook and Instagram, was so successful that it spurred a follow-up, week-long campaign. And for Samsung, R/GA NY and Seoul won back Gen Z with a #danceAwesome TikTok challenge that kicked off with an original song from K-pop band BLACKPINK. The campaign, for Samsung’s Galaxy A phone, earned 850,000 new fans of the brand on TikTok and scored a whopping 20 billion views. Not to mention a 130 percent lift in brand favorability and a 190 percent lift in purchase intent.
HAS WORKED WITH: Google, Nike, Patagonia, Planned Parenthood, Samsung, Shiseido WEBSITE: rga.com
RFP CONTACT: Alex Sehnaoui, [email protected]
Known for its branding work for startups Casper, Brandless and Allbirds (we’re talking logos, packaging, design—the works), Brooklyn-based Red Antler took another step in that direction with the launch of performance marketing shop Good Moose, which offers search capabilities, social advertising, display, ecommerce, influencer marketing and more. Snowe, Henry Rose and Snap Kitchen were secured as founding clients. But it supports the big guys, too. Like when it stripped down Google Fiber’s brand messaging until it promised to deliver the one thing that consumers truly love: the internet. Oh, and Inc. magazine included Red Antler founders Emily Heyward, JB Osborne and Simon Endres among the most important entrepreneurs of the decade. NBD.
HAS WORKED WITH: Allbirds, American Express, Casper, Foursquare, Hinge, HBO, Trip Advisor WEBSITE: redantler.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Helping clients adapt the strategy and execution of their marketing efforts to the pandemic was of course a major theme for Red House this year, and not just for healthcare clients such as Aesculap and McKesson. For Spectrum Enterprise, a division of Charter Communications, the agency developed an integrated campaign to inform organizations of the additional $100 million in federal funding designated to boost telehealth capacity nationwide and how Spectrum’s fiber solutions were ready to support additional telehealth clients. At the same time, Red House scored a number of new business wins, including Lake County Partners and Medical Review Institute of America.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cognizant, Elsevier, EmprintWeb, Mayo Clinic, McKesson, Spectrum Enterprise WEBSITE: redhouseb2b.com RFP CONTACT: Steve Reeves, [email protected]
This ROI-focused agency has seen an increase in demand for video content, and video was a cornerstone of a recent campaign for Renaissance Life & Health Insurance Company of America. A two-day shoot yielded seven core videos used across landing pages for both brokers and employers, in social media, for employee recruitment, and in a video-in-print mailer designed as a booklet with a pocket for personalized sales collateral along with a video screen and button links to five videos. The shop’s proprietary Direct Branding process garnered it a number of new clients, such as the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, within its pharmaceutical, manufacturing and insurance specialties.
HAS WORKED WITH: Avicena, EyeMed, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Motis Brands, My Choice Wisconsin, Wolter Group WEBSITE: responsory.com RFP CONTACT: Rob Trecek, [email protected]
Agencies talk about delivering digital transformation, but Retina actually does it via AI, machine learning, Robot Process Automation (RPA), digital assistants, augmented reality and incorporating other emerging technologies into its work. The result? Breakthrough creative, content and media strategies that build modern brands and drive demand for the likes of Thermo Fisher Scientific, Cisco, HPE, IBM and others. A merger earlier this year with marketing technology company Transiris (both companies operate under the Retina name) will ensure the strategic thinking, creativity and deep digital technology continue for enterprise and mid-market clients around the world.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bank of Montreal, ING Bank, Jumio, Kloudspot, Stanford University, Thermo Fisher Scientific WEBSITE: retinacommunications.com RFP CONTACT: Ted Kohnen, [email protected]
When COVID-19 made it impossible for fans to watch games in the stands, rEvolution made sure they could cheer on their teams just outside the stadium. With Major League Soccer partner Continental Tire, it transformed the parking lot of Soldier Field, the home stadium for the Chicago Fire, into a drive-in where fans in cars could watch the #MLSIsBack tournament on jumbo screens. The sold-out event and the citywide promotional campaign led to more than a million cobranded social impressions and live broadcast views. The agency also put together livestreaming concerts sponsored by the likes of General Tire and took the Chipotle Challenger gaming tournament completely online, showing just how many ways it can craft meaningful fan and brand experiences.
Retail brands looking to thrive (and who doesn’t?) find an experienced partner in RGI. Take western wear chain Boot Barn, which needed to defend its business against online shopping. RGI created a “badass” brand exclusive to the retailer and backed it with stellar customer service. Private-label sales were pretty badass, too. Another success story: the award-winning customer experience strategy for 30 malls in the Starwood Retail Property group. Its Live 360 program infused the malls with lively community-led programs such as free ukulele classes, yoga, mall walking clubs and Mom’s Club stroller workouts. Did we say badass?
HAS WORKED WITH: Boot Barn, Green Growth Brands, O’Hare, Starwood, Target WEBSITE: rileygroupinc.com RFP CONTACT: Carl Riley, [email protected]
Want to connect with hard-to-reach Gen Z and millennials? Better call Riddle & Bloom. Renowned for its expertise in college campus marketing, the “ideas and access” agency enjoys relationships with a broad array of universities across the country. The team won a PRO Award for Best Vehicle-Based campaign for its work on an Amazon Prime Video program promoting “Jack Ryan” during which unsuspecting students were whisked away to a covert intel mission that transported them from the classroom to the Toronto skyline via helicopter. Also launched an Owned Events division, under which it has already built its first event property.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon, Microsoft, Vera Bradley, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Media WEBSITE: riddleandbloom.com RFP CONTACT: Matthew Fasano, [email protected]
Whether it’s a quick-win sweepstakes, incentivized customer participation or a long-term customer loyalty program, SCAinteractive has the chops to bring campaigns to life from launch to redemption. Small but mighty, and privately held, the agency runs all day-to-day operations, analytics and reporting, including tracking consumer participation and compiling reports. Developed a strategy to integrate MasterCard into MoneyMart by engaging MoneyMart customers with instant win opportunities. Each time a customer used their Mastercard, they’d get a text inviting them to participate in an online scratch-and-win game. If they were a winner, cash would be placed instantly on the card. Cha-ching.
HAS WORKED WITH: 7-Eleven, Geico, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Phillips 66 WEBSITE: scainteractive.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
On a scale of 1 to 5, clients rate Schermer a 5, and we can see why. Maybe it’s how Schermer helps B2B companies build buyer-driven brand experiences. Maybe it’s the continued investment in research and analytics, the expanded portfolio that now includes experience design for enterprise websites. Maybe it’s all the awards it has won. And, despite COVID, with its associated budget cuts and layoffs, Schermer this year will achieve +15 percent AGI and +10 percent net profit over 2019, all without cutting salaries, losing a single employee, and even ultimately increasing staff by 14 percent in Q4.
HAS WORKED WITH: 3M Medical, Cargill Bioindustrial, Dude Solutions, Ecolab Life Sciences, Red Wing WEBSITE: schermer.co RFP CONTACT: Chris Schermer, [email protected]
“Welcome to the Land of Actuallygiveadamn” is posted on School of Thought’s door, a clue that the agency prides itself on being both passionate and unconventional. Using humor to promote a public utility, for instance, is far from conventional, but School of Thought did just that when redesigning the customer resource center for Silicon Valley Clean Energy’s website, scheduled to launch before the end of 2020. For quantum dot technology company Nanosys, it engaged a local artist to paint a street mural during Display Week, a trade event held virtually this year. Not only did the mural beautify a corner of Oakland, CA, but the video campaign led to a 400 percent increase in social media engagement for Nanosys.
HAS WORKED WITH: Betterworks, Demandbase, Milliman, Nanosys, Olivine, Silicon Valley Clean Energy WEBSITE: schoolofthought.com RFP CONTACT: Madhur Dharmadhikari, [email protected]
When not reevaluating and restructuring more than 175 partnerships in the wake of COVID-19, this agency found plenty more ways to keep busy. Case in point: setting up Popeyes’ partnership with the Chicago Huntsmen esports team to introduce a younger audience to the fried-chicken restaurant chain. The campaign, which included sponsored Twitch streams and the #UnsponsoredbyPopeyes storyline poking fun at poorly performing players, generated 37 million impressions and 5.6 million unique views. The consumer engagement division of Horizon Media, Scout brought on a number of new clients this year, including Petco, Showtime Networks and Six Flags.
HAS WORKED WITH: Burger King, ESPN, GEICO, Honda, Major League Baseball, United Rentals WEBSITE: scoutse.com RFP CONTACT: Michael Neuman, [email protected]
Specializing in B2B social media, Sculpt takes on clients that have a clear brand identity—and then they proceed to amplify it. The team excels at launching paid social campaigns, realigning brands’ social media strategies and training internal teams to execute on them. It also offers B2B chatbots and social post creation, including video and copywriting. The proof is in the work. For instance, Sculpt helped Pearson, which struggled to reach students on Instagram, achieve 209 percent audience growth in six months through tag-a-friend giveaways, partnerships with “Studygram” influencers to promote products and swipe-ups to drive traffic.
HAS WORKED WITH: Collective Data, Goodwill, MidWestOne Bank, Pearson, Urban Acres WEBSITE: wearesculpt.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
This collection of experiential design studios launched a new initiative this year to help businesses and organizations transform physical experiences into new shared spaces in a post-quarantine world. The offering, dubbed Adaptive Spaces, combines behavioral psychology, spatial design and business strategy. Further, it’s using touchless interaction techniques, like hand gestures, voice recognition, infrared touch frames, hover buttons and body tracking, to design experiences for the future. A big part of the process is prototyping in labs, which has moved to a garage-based model of late. (Explore the agency’s prototype section on its website for a peek at some fascinating work.) It recently created an atmospheric, generative artwork for real estate development Legacy Union—an ever-shifting swirl of color, movement and sound representing the Charlotte, NC, community where it’s based.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cox Enterprises, Epson, Georgia Power, Nokia Technologies, NRG, Porsche WEBSITE: secondstory.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Serving as WPP’s leading events and experiences agency, with offices in London, New York City and Portland, OR, Set has expertise in B2B shows, pop-up experiences and virtual events. That thing Spielberg said about making movies for the masses, but talking to them one at a time? That’s the team’s bread and butter strategy—impacting many, one at a time. To help adidas re-release its color-blocked “adicolor” line with PacSun, Set created the adicolor Street Fair featuring street food, interactive games and performers, all positioned in single color blocks that mapped back to the product. The program generated 28 million social impressions.
HAS WORKED WITH: Brooks Running, Goodyear, Google, LEGO, Volvo WEBSITE: setcreative.com RFP CONTACT: Alan Doyle, [email protected]
Longtime champions of simplicity in brand messaging, brand voice and communications, S+G upped its game despite the challenges of the past year with creativity and clarity. It reimagined the iconic I VOTED voting emblem during the presidential campaign with 24 downloadable animated stickers, and for GE, crafted a new brand purpose, including a tagline and campaign targeting employees and customers around “rising to the challenge in a world that works.” Just two examples of how it cuts through the clutter as part of Brand Consulting Group, a division of Omnicom.
HAS WORKED WITH: 3M, Aetna, Allstate, Humana, SAP WEBSITE: siegelgale.com RFP CONTACT: Patrick Gough, [email protected]
Univision approached SocialFly to counter anti-Hispanic rhetoric in the U.S., and with its multi-platform campaign raked in 1.1 million engagements and 7.7 million impressions. They’ve adjusted their services for COVID times as all successful shops have done, offering strategy adjustments, social templates, livestream management and a #StayHome branded asset pack. We love their weekly podcast, “Entrprenista,” hosted by co-founders Courtney Spritzerna and Stephanie Abrams Cartin and featuring all-women founders. They even sell branded swag for it, including totes, hoodies and journals.
HAS WORKED WITH: Conair, Girl Scouts, Il Makiage, Puma, Univision WEBSITE: socialflyny.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Sociallybuzz offers social media management, custom content, paid social campaigns, lead generation, and data and insights to drive sales. Franchises are their friends. For example, for an ice-cream shop the agency drove more than 1,000 new customers to its grand opening through targeting locals within 10 miles of the store with Facebook ads, sponsored posts, Instagram ads, giveaways and Google ads. It has heart, too. The shop has integrated philanthropy into its business through volunteer and give back initiatives benefitting various charities. And CEO Andre Kay penned a book this year, Surviving COVID-19: Marketing Relief for Small Businesses, with 50 percent of book sales being donated to charity.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cream, Domino’s, Jamba Juice, PJ’s Coffee, TGI Fridays WEBSITE: sociallybuzz.com RFP CONTACT: Andre Kay, [email protected]
For hip hop festival A3C Festival & Conference, SociallyIn devised a content strategy that included speaker graphics, GIFs, artist videos and a Snapchat takeover for the week of the activations. The strategy sent social media engagement for the festival, which had landed bigger names than in previous years, soaring. Japanese restaurant UMI needed its social platforms to match the popularity of its physical locations, so this crew cooked up a hip brand persona rooted in pop culture while remaining connected to its own roots. Think playful, witty posts—part animation, part food porn. Delish.
HAS WORKED WITH: A3C, Dick’s Sporting Goods, NAACP, Toyota, UMI WEBSITE: sociallyin.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
With consumers stuck in quarantine this year during the NBA season, adidas looked to Sparkloft to help engage fans by bringing hoops straight to their homes in the form of three content series: #HomeTeam Handles, a series of drills and at-home workouts on Instagram; The Huddle, featuring live conversations between athletes; and Inside Access, a behind-the-scenes look at the real lives of adidas athletes. Moreover, it earned new business this year for Tillamook, which has charged Sparkloft with creating its consumer-facing social media content. Score.
HAS WORKED WITH: adidas, Diageo, Macy’s, Tillamook, USA Pears WEBSITE: sparkloftmedia.com RFP CONTACT: Seth Buchwalter, [email protected]
Virtual events are nothing new to Sparks. The Philly-based “Human Connection is EVERYTHING” agency has built its reputation for decades on producing live + digital events for some of the world’s biggest brands via trade show exhibits, conferences, road shows, retail experiences and more. 2019 saw significant investments in Sparks’ digital and virtual capabilities, which include its proprietary event platforms Virtu and Virtu 3D. Recent highlights include the smart UX and thoughtful design supporting the eBay Open event website; and a virtual town hall for Natera, a global leader in cell-free DNA testing, which sparked meaningful, immersive transplant care conversations.
HAS WORKED WITH: eBay, Google, Salesforce, T-Mobile, Waymo WEBSITE: wearesparks.com RFP CONTACT: Kristy Elisano, [email protected]
Concentrating exclusively on B2B demand generation, Spear Marketing Group makes no attempt to be all things to all businesses. And that intense focus is paying off—the shop managed to add 30 clients to its roster during the past year, and for the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic led to spending cutbacks among clients, business was up 70 percent year over year. In fact, Spear recovered enough that billings for 2020 were projected to at least equal those for the previous year—no mean feat. New team members included Tyler Moreton as digital marketing manager, and the agency won a Killer Content Award at the annual B2B Marketing Exchange conference for a campaign for SAP Concur.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cloudflare, Dropbox, Fitbit, Magnitude, Smart Communications, Vertafore WEBSITE: spearmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Tom Meriam, [email protected]
Following H.I.G. Capital’s acquisition of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment earlier this year, the company rebranded as SPORTFIVE, a global sports business and marketing agency that connects brands, rightsholders and media platforms in sports and entertainment. Its core capability is partnership marketing expertise and has the advantage of owning both a NY-based experiential marketing and production agency, Rooftop2 Productions, and a full-service creative agency based in London, called Brave, that boasts advertising chops. Also growing in priority and size is its data and insights department. A highlight this year was kicking off Moët Hennessy’s multi-year agreement with the NBA, which included Hennessy’s partnership with the “Spirit of the NBA” campaign championed by Nas at NBA All-Star Weekend, a launch that generated more than 128 million impressions. It also developed a responsible betting campaign for American Gaming Association and executed fan-targeted activations with the NHL and NASCAR. SPORTFIVE scored American Gaming Association as a new client this year, along with Intermountain Healthcare, Moët, M3COM, Pitchbook and PointsBet.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bridgestone, Citi, MetLife, Metro by T-Mobile, Moët Hennessy, UPMC WEBSITE: sportfive.com RFP CONTACT: Dave Cagianello, [email protected]
Say you’re a city looking to stand out from the competition and attract new business. If you’re like the honchos at the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation, you turn to Square 2 for a campaign, “All Business, No Bull,” that captured the city’s essence through messaging, demand generation, content marketing, SEO and PPC, social media and inbound marketing. The effort worked on multiple levels and achieved record results including 20- to 40-percent open and click-through rates, a range never seen before. That’s one way to rope in the leads, cowboy. And Square 2 has lots more success stories in its stable.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amarillo EDC, Cloudticity, Elbeco, Michigan Virtual, Scoo WEBSITE: square2marketing.com RFP CONTACT: square2marketing.com/contact-us
Nashville-based ST8MNT specializes in experiential design and brand development, creating “work that is physical, digital and everything in between.” Clients praise this crew’s attention to detail and brand cohesiveness. Crafted a visual identity, packaging and printed materials for Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon. Handled top-to-bottom brand evolution of boutique hotel brand, Bobby Hotel, from developing its brand intro book to typography to designing branded printed materials and messaging guides. Most recently, it refreshed the visual identity—including social media content, stationary and typography—of entrepreneur networking organization Launch Tennessee.
HAS WORKED WITH: Atlanta Braves, CMT, National Geographic Channel, Taylor Swift, Toyota WEBSITE: st8mnt.com RFP CONTACT: Kate Balch, [email protected]
Majoring in technology marketing with a minor in partner programs, Starshot Ventures grew its revenue 210 percent year over year, developing 212 demand-generation campaigns throughout the year and adapting its event practice to the new reality of virtual conferences and shows. For the alliance of Microsoft, Intel and HP, the agency created Triple Blitz, a sales incentive and education campaign engaging more than 500 sales reps with a website that provides access to training curriculum, sales assets including webinars and advanced reporting. Named by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies, Starshot added Hitachi and Extreme Networks, among others, to its client roster this year.
HAS WORKED WITH: AWS, HPE, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, TIBCO WEBSITE: starshot.com RFP CONTACT: Brad Friesen, [email protected]
Think parking a car in a crowded lot is tough? Try helming one of several tugboats responsible for berthing a 57,000-ton tanker. To promote Trelleborg’s SafeTug software for tugboat captains and crews, Stein IAS used drones and 360-degree cameras to record the dramatic and potentially dangerous berthing process and demonstrate SafeTug’s benefits. The resulting VR video and campaign engaged more than 25 percent of Trelleborg’s total addressable market at a cost of less than $100,000. Work like this enabled Stein IAS to win the ANA B2B Agency of the Year award for the sixth straight year, increase revenue nearly 13 percent and grow its margin more than 131 percent.
HAS WORKED WITH: Elanco, ETS, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Ingredion, Tetra Pak, Trelleborg WEBSITE: steinias.com RFP CONTACT: Craig Duxbury, [email protected]
Marketers of all stripes—B2B, B2C, digital, political marketers and educators—have all signed on to take advantage of Stirista’s data-driven strategy and customer-centric approach in their quest to increase brand loyalty and acquire new customers via digital, email and social channels. Stirista’s social media engagement database, SocialORE, crawls the web daily and is loaded with info on users, and its AI-powered tools automate the delivery of customer insights. Stirista can even create full campaigns, including design, testing, analytics and reporting. And look for even more power from this data dynamo; It received $13 million in financing earlier this year.
HAS WORKED WITH: AOL, Great Clips, Oracle, Verizon, Weight Watchers WEBSITE: stirista.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
As you might expect given its name, Events & Adventures—a social activities club for singles—was majorly affected by the travel and social-distancing restrictions resulting from COVID-19. To help its client remain profitable despite such challenges, Strategic Marketing implemented virtual sales and onboarding processes, revised its media planning and worked with the company to introduce and execute virtual events. Thinking strategically, as well as producing commercials and using its proprietary media planning and buying software, also enabled the agency to help legal practice Divorce Matters draw nearly nine percent more new users to its website than it had the previous year, leading to a significant boost in business for the client.
HAS WORKED WITH: Advertising Specialty Institute, Members Car Club, Miromar Design Center, Mister Plumber, SkyShareUSA, Stanley Steemer WEBSITE: thinkstrategic.com RFP CONTACT: Terry Murphy, [email protected]
As if providing B2B tech and industrial companies with martech and database marketing services weren’t enough, Sudden Impact Marketing launched a sales training service, Sales Impact, in February 2020. Another point of differentiation for the shop: its telemarketing team, who are trained to eschew scripts in favor of a more-personal (and more-effective) approach. For Cisco Performance IT, the agency developed a standalone brand identity and an account-based marketing program that addressed business-specific IT pain points via white papers, blogs, podcasts and other assets. Accenture, Intel and Ohio State University were among the new accounts won this year.
HAS WORKED WITH: ABB, Cisco, FireEye, Nationwide Energy Partners, Siemens, Veeam WEBSITE: simarketing.net RFP CONTACT: Krista Conard, [email protected]
Looking for creative KPI-driven influencer marketing that yields three times the industry engagement rate? Guaranteed campaign results? A hands-on approach? Sway Group offers all that and more. And it’s socially conscious, too, donating since March $5 for every influencer used in its campaigns to organizations such as Black Lives Matter, Good 360 and others. Influencers for Post Consumer Brands’ PEBBLES Daily Yabba Dabba Doo initiative delivered daily videos that kids and parents really ate up—exceeding client impression and engagement goals. And more good news! Recently signed its largest contract ever, securing a $1 million-plus retainer for a repeat client.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bradshaw Home, Delta Greek Yogurt, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Outlook Amusements, STARZ WEBSITE: swaygroup.com RFP CONTACT: Mandy Anderson, [email protected]
This experiential marketing company takes pride in its in-house production and fabrication capabilities, which include large-format printing of everything from trade-show standups to vehicle wraps, 360-degree photography and the ability to turn a live event into a virtual conference in just days. All of this allows Switch exceptional flexibility, which was certainly called on this year. When COVID-19 put a halt to Sparkling Ice’s planned 30-week mobile marketing tour, the shop trained its 30-plus brand ambassadors to become merchandisers to help the beverage brand, which was overwhelmed by increased demand, safely restock shelves and make the product easy to find in 1,750 stores in 15 markets.
HAS WORKED WITH: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bosch, Brew Dr. Kombucha, Fiskars, Monster Energy, Nando’s WEBSITE: switch.us RFP CONTACT: Chris Jobst, [email protected]
Founded in 2011, L.A.-based Sync is a woman-owned agency certified by the National Women Business Owners Corporation that laser-focuses on two areas: sweepstakes and contests. The team leans heavily on its TurnkeySweeps sweepstakes platform, which combines customization, personal service, responsive design and speed with real-time metrics via a password-protected administrative site that clients can access at any time during the promotion. But as Julie Link, co-founder, puts it, “I am most proud when the Sync team creates work and produces results that far exceed our clients’ expectations. That’s a feeling that can’t be measured in metrics.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, CBI Distributing Corp., HelloFresh, Stitch Fix, TikTok WEBSITE: syncmarketing.net RFP CONTACT: Jennifer French, [email protected]
Encouraging consumers to use Mastercard’s contactless technologies in new ways and creating virtual behind-the-scenes experiences so that NASCAR could continue to engage with fans were just a few ways teamDigital Promotions helped clients adapt to pandemic-related challenges. Pre-COVID, it partnered with the NFL to help create a new generation of football fans with its Next 100 promotion: Two young fans of each team were chosen, based on videos submitted by their parents featuring the kids’ football moves, to be recognized on the field at Super Bowl LIV in Miami. Given that the campaign received videos of more than 18,000 young players, the teams had plenty to choose from.
HAS WORKED WITH: Carnival Cruise Lines, HomeServe, NBA, MLB, Major League Soccer, Second State Bank WEBSITE: teamdigital.com RFP CONTACT: Gene Tiernan, [email protected]
As its namesake suggests, The Campus Agency’s specialty is engaging college students who fall within the coveted Gen Z demo. And its presence in the category is something to behold: The agency has access to 17 million undergrads, over 2,500 student ambassadors and influencers on campuses nationwide, and eight million dedicated student emails. Pivoted a student ambassador event program for First Aid Beauty promoting its Ultra Repair Cream into a social media campaign that invited students to tell their personal stories for a chance to have their student debt paid off by the brand, ultimately raking in 51,285 likes and 2,485 comments.
HAS WORKED WITH: Adobe, Harley-Davidson, OnePlus, Sodastream, The New York Times WEBSITE: thecampusagency.com RFP CONTACT: Courtney Duggan, [email protected]
A demand marketing and creative agency for B2B marketers, CSI does it all, including content marketing, sales enablement and customer service. Known for its full in-house video production and post-production facility that handles tons of video content and marketing, it also offers a three-phase proprietary BrandNav process—evaluate, create and activate—and virtual event packages. A recent sales enablement program for Benjamin Moore’s Contractor Engagement group is providing a 10:1 return. And a new website and content hub for Konica Minolta’s All-Covered IT Solutions resulted in massive web traffic and cross-selling.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon, Benjamin Moore, Citizen Watch, Konica Minolta, Zelis WEBSITE: thecsigroup.com RFP CONTACT: Rich Cannava, [email protected]
This people-focused agency recently announced eight promotions across design, creative, brand, project management and operations departments. The Many thrives on the “uncomfortable,” they claim, which allows for high-speed, collaborative innovation across myriad teams. Recent work that caught our eye was the digital rebranding of Bumble Bee Seafoods, anchored around its new “Tuna Proudly” brand platform. The crew used a rich color palette of reds and blues for its new visual identity, launched both a consumer-facing and corporate website and created a sustainability-focused, interactive experience that allowed consumers to track the source of their seafood.
HAS WORKED WITH: Budget Blinds, Chambord, Coca-Cola, Hot Wheels, Netflix, Outshine WEBSITE: themany.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
This culture-obsessed agency caters to clients who want to stand for more than what they’re selling. Case in point: It helped client Frito-Lay develop a limited-edition cookbook called “Bon Appé Cheetos” aimed at helping families break away from holiday traditions, with proceeds supporting World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsforAmerica COVID-relief program. Also took home five PRO Awards, and snagged Gold in the Ex Awards for work on State Farm’s Neighborhood of Good campaign, an interactive activation benefitting Notes for Notes that had consumers showing off their best dance moves on a reactive floor and jamming on an LED drum set to the tune of 1.3 million engagements.
HAS WORKED WITH: Frito-Lay, Goodyear, Nintendo, State Farm, US Army WEBSITE: themarketingarm.com RFP CONTACT: Corey Lark, [email protected]
TMP says its will be judged on its ability to create revenue today and sustained growth in the long term. And with appointments made this year, it should be well positioned to deliver on those goals. Matt Harper, after seven years in its Seattle operations, in April became CEO. Based in TMP’s UK headquarters, he plans to develop a global operating model, helping clients grow in customers, pipeline and partner channels. He’s already strengthened the agency’s U.S. teams: David Hayes has joined as VP-Client Growth, U.S., FarrisHoliday is Director of Strategy, Seattle; Christie Johansen-Pinney, Client Director, Seattle.
HAS WORKED WITH: Microsoft, O2, SAS, Sage, Xerox WEBSITE: themarketingpractice.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
New brand identity and launch messaging for U.S. Cellular’s 5G service offering. A website campaign, trade show booths and testimonials for Tempur Sealy. Workshops, launch planning, market rollout piloting for a new digital platform for Zekelman Industries. These are just a smattering of Mx’s impressive capabilities. Also impressive: its new leadership line-up. Tony Riley is now President, focused on agency services and working across accounts, strategy, creative, media and production. Emily Williams Kleist, VP/ECD, is looking to deepen client relationships. And with many more joining the ranks, more award-winning work no doubt is on the way.
HAS WORKED WITH: Cummins, Grundfos, Holly Frontier, Tempur Sealy, U.S. Cellular Business, vAuto, Zekelman Industries WEBSITE: themxgroup.com RFP CONTACT: Pete Wroblewski, [email protected]
Working with large, complex enterprises across a range of industries, TPG has achieved some pretty eye-popping results: It delivered and influenced more than $2 billion in business at a Fortune 50 financial institution, grew revenue 16.6 percent YOY at a Fortune 500 medical device company and accelerated lead opportunity by 10 percent at a large manufacturing company. Services include marketing operations, technology and demand generation across numerous platforms. And in 2020, it rebranded its proprietary Revenue Marketing University and began offering OnDemand courses.
HAS WORKED WITH: Ciena, CommTech, D+H, Gilbarco Veeder-Root, Zoetis WEBSITE: pedowitzgroup.com RFP CONTACT: [email protected]
With the trade show and live event industries in flux this year, The Trade Group has mass produced PPE, signage and interior solutions to support frontline health care workers during the pandemic. It also pivoted by offering school safety solutions, including see-through desk guards to support social distancing, and consulting services for businesses in need of space planning, design and fabrication expertise for post-pandemic spaces. Restaurant environments and exterior portable structures for pop-ups and brand activations are on the menu, too. Recently it helped client Farmhouse Fresh, a spa skincare company, connect with its audience of wholesale buyers through a live-streamed video on QVC, complete with a set build and on-site tech support. And when it comes to trade show booths, TTG is a seasoned pro. It’s designed custom builds for Twitch, BlenderBottle, Hershey’s and many others.
HAS WORKED WITH: Facebook, Fannie May, Hershey’s, Pokémon Worlds, RocketBrand, Twitch WEBSITE: tradegroup.com RFP CONTACT: tradegroup.com/contact-us
This London-based shop’s specialty is creating viral content they refer to as advertainment. They start with a brainstorm session to find that viral idea, create shareable content and then use influencer outreach and paid promotions to gain results. Examples of work include a film for Nissan featuring a high-octane car race through the streets of Dubai and a stunt that included the replication of a famous Picasso painting that the artist then unveiled—to shocked onlookers—at the Tate Modern in London. New in 2020 is their virtual event offering dubbed “LiveShow.” Said client Radiocentre: the work “looked slick, engaging and creative—and was well-received by all who watched.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Alibaba Group, Durex, Ebay, Hailo, Nissan, UKTV, Xbox WEBSITE: viralagency.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Experts in food and beverage, THP is a one-stop-shop that boasts an in-house test kitchen with 20 culinary professionals, recipe testing and recipe database audits that give it an extra edge beyond its social media marketing and content creation offerings. For Tropicana, it drove awareness and sales by featuring “swipe-up” summer drink recipes on its Instagram Stories. It was as a smashing success: Results included an 18-point lift in ad recall and 15-point lift in purchase intent around males. Explore the company’s white papers and webinars for industry insights.
HAS WORKED WITH: Campbell’s, Chiquita, Kraft Heinz, MolsonCoors, Nestle, Tropicana WEBSITE: thpcreates.com RFP CONTACT: thpcreates.com/contact-us/
Looking to drive results and boost demand authority? Influencer marketing is one way. And no, it’s not just for B2C. Influencer strategies can make a difference in B2B, and the gurus at TopRank know how to do it right. Check out its 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report based on surveys of more than 300 B2B marketers. The agency also offers content, search marketing and social media marketing, and works across a breadth of industries, including healthcare, technology, ecommerce, retail and manufacturing.
HAS WORKED WITH: Dell, EverString, LinkedIn, Marketo, McKesson WEBSITE: toprankmarketing.com RFP CONTACT: toprankmarketing.com/contact
TriComB2B wants to talk… about occasionally getting uncomfortable, about thinking big and considering creative that makes audiences pause, and even smile. Two recent award-winning efforts did just that. First, starting with only a CAD file, its creative team used sound and animation to produce a teaser video highlighting the three pillars of Cummins G-Drive engines. And then there was the stunning photography in those Honeywell Intelligrated DC Next ads. Both prove that making emotional connections, rather than focusing on a product’s features and benefits, can create brand value, and perhaps even a smile or two.
A specialist in sports, events and promotional marketing and merchandising, TSMGI celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2020 and, to put it in a prime position for another 20 years of success, restructured its promotions department for greater efficiency. This led to the hiring of several additional team members, including Tim Dombrowski and Alden Jones as project management coordinators. Like other agencies, TSMGI showed its ingenuity by reinventing its live-engagement campaigns. Perhaps most impressive, it helped transform the Wisconsin State Fair into a drive-through event where visitors could buy food and gifts from their cars. Merchandise sales beat forecast by 167 percent, in keeping with the motto emblazoned on the fair’s commemorative shirts: “Stickin’ it to 2020.”
HAS WORKED WITH: Abbott, McDonald’s Corporation, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., Valvoline, WESCO WEBSITE: tsmgi.com RFP CONTACT: Tom Crawford, [email protected]
Pronounced like “bueno” without the “b,” this 60-person shop was born in Reykjavik and then sprouted agencies in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. It prides itself on making digital products functional and beautiful and building digital-first brands that evoke emotions through technological design. Ueno works with clients large and small, from Google, Facebook and Twitter to travel app Dorsia and intelligent CRM company Copper. Award-winning work worth a hat tip: the design of a mobile-first online version of ESPN’s Body Issue, which enabled playful interactions between viewers and the photography, such as tilting and moving the device to experience the imagery.
HAS WORKED WITH: ESPN, Google, Il Makiage, Red Bull, Reuters, Uber, Verizon WEBSITE: ueno.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Move over, Taco Tuesday, and make way for #ManduMonday. To increase awareness of Korean-food brand Bibigo and its Mandu frozen dumplings, Upshot maximized Bibigo parent company CJ Foods’ sponsorship of an October PGA tournament. It created five broadcast ads and social media content featuring PGA players that ran throughout the event; the following Monday, it enabled consumers in six cities to surprise friends with Mandu dumplings via Postmates as a way of sharing experiences even in a socially distanced environment. The promotion sold out in all six markets, with some cities selling out within two hours. In addition to Bibigo, new clients included Kum & Go, Medline and SVP Worldwide.
HAS WORKED WITH: CJ Foods, Constellation Brands, Google, Nestlé, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble WEBSITE: upshot.agency RFP CONTACT: Jay Davidson, [email protected]
Influencer marketing services, social expertise, content creation, performance marketing chops, B2B lead gen and demand gen are a few of Viral Nation’s services. But is also runs an in-house talent agency. Viral Nation offers technology solutions, too, through using its proprietary software to track, measure and engage in social listening for clients’ campaigns. Categories of work are diverse, but lately it’s had an eye on gaming. It activated 39 influencers on Twitch, YouTube and Instagram for an unboxing of Twitch merchandise and also organized two charity livestreams benefiting No Kid Hungry.
HAS WORKED WITH: Activision Blizzard, Campbell’s, Facebook, Match.com, Twitch, Victoria’s Secret WEBSITE: viralnation.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
You’d expect the creative agency for VICE to be edgy—and it doesn’t disappoint. Take L’Oréal Paris’ first digital makeup experience which Virtue created for Instagram. “Signature Faces” allows consumers to try on different looks through the account’s filters tab. It also partnered with HBO to create a continuous mural in Washington Heights’ Plaza de las Americas. Inspired by the HBO original documentary “Sempre, Luis,” the mural tells the story of the Latinx diaspora in New York City. It worked with Pernod Ricard this year to create a live content program with DJs, mixologists and artists in order to recreate Brazil’s bar experience online while consumers continue to social distance. It also led a launch campaign for Beats by Dre’s Beats Flex headphones that celebrated and encouraged Black youth to defiantly “flex” their identities to the world.
HAS WORKED WITH: Beats by Dre, Betty Crocker, Canada Goose, L’Oréal Paris, Target WEBSITE: virtueworldwide.com RFP CONTACT: Krystle Watler, [email protected]
Tackling a rebrand during the pandemic, Leighton Interactive—now known as Vye—is focused on marketing as a means for measurable growth investment primarily through inbound marketing. It was recently named a winner in the Grow Better Website Design category in HubSpot’s Q3 2020 Impact Awards for its brand building strategy and new inbound website for transportation logistics company Ascent Specialized. For Blattner Energy it revitalized its website to better showcase its expertise and for United Way’s goal of engaging new demographics it built a new website, video content, social media content, and more.
HAS WORKED WITH: Bernick’s, Blattner Energy, Marco, Tapemark, United Way WEBSITE: vye.agency RFP CONTACT:[email protected]
Growth is the name of the game at Walker Sands, which has increased exponentially over the past five years, expanding offerings in demand gen, p.r., branding, creative, marketing strategy and web, all while upping revenue and more than doubling employee count. The agency saw a 34 percent gain in revenue, enlarged its Chicago space, developed a new Seattle office, underwent a company rebrand and surpassed 125 employees. Its demand generation services cover everything from paid search advertising to search-optimized web pages, including marketing automation, conversion rate optimization, B2B content marketing, digital analytics and account-based marketing (ABM).
HAS WORKED WITH: CloudCraze, Dotcom, G2 Crowd, Softchoice, Switchfast WEBSITE: walkersands.com RFP CONTACT: walkersands.com/contact-us
This must be the Alexander of great retail marketing. Clients say the agency helps them achieve millions in cost savings, which they can redirect into brand building. And that it helps them get to market faster—up to 30 to 40 percent in some cases. Then there’s the award-winning work in dozens of categories, for consumer and private-label brands. Topping it all off, in-house subject matter expertise across a variety of services from market to shelf—strategy, creative, retail marketing, packaging, pre-media, photography, experiential marketing and digital/social. Proprietary ROME technology ties it all together.
HAS WORKED WITH: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Janssen, Keurig Dr Pepper, Krispy Kreme, TreeHouse Foods WEBSITE: wearealexander.com RFP CONTACT: Laurie Bauer, [email protected]
Cloud-driven networking company Extreme Networks no doubt felt a lot of pressure to ensure that its first-ever virtual event was a success. So it tapped Wilson Dow to make it so. The resulting two-day Extreme Connect 2020 user conference encompassed five dedicated concurrent channels offering interactive breakout sessions, executive-led master classes, live demos, esports, and even story time for attendees’ kids. Attendance was up 500 percent from the previous year’s conference, and the event generated more than 47,000 social impressions. To support the increased demand for digital strategy, Wilson Dow hired Michael Manke as technical strategist and Matt Polito as technology strategist.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amway, The Clorox Co., Genentech, Merck, Oracle, Roku WEBSITE: wilsondow.com RFP CONTACT: Matthew Cooney, [email protected]
After a short but widely successful two years in existence, TikTok needed a rebrand. So, it tapped Wolff Olins to build a new brand identity and creator strategy. The result was a campaign framework anchored by the tagline “It Starts on TikTok,” highlighting the diversity of TikTok’s creator network through TV spots, OOH and digital creative. McKinsey & Company turned to Wolff Olins, too, for a visual identity update that included modernizing its logo and introducing a new animation to symbolize an emphasis on client/firm partnerships. Over on the other side of the pond, the agency developed the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers brand, which offers public transport to London commuters by boat. We love its “Because” event series, where creative people discuss how they are making art within a world of pandemic restrictions.
HAS WORKED WITH: Apple, Google, McKinsey & Co., the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Uber WEBSITE: wolffolins.com RFP CONTACT: Chris Arakelian, [email protected]
Recognized as the top performance marketing agency by Forrester last year, Wpromote specializes in omnichannel digital marketing strategies through paid media, earned and owned media and data science capabilities. In March, it acquired New York-based digital marketing agency Metric Digital, which excels at paid social media, Google ads, email and performance creative. This agency’s work delivers serious results. When Forks Over Knives was experiencing a steep decline in organic search traffic while people were quarantined during the pandemic, Wpromote used Google Trend search data to adjust the company’s content strategy, resulting in 41 percent increase in total organic sessions after a month. And for Whirlpool, it helped launch a D2C strategy across multiple brands using a custom approach for each business, identifying KitchenAid small appliances as the primary retail channel during the pandemic.
HAS WORKED WITH: Brinks Home Security, Greystar Real Estate, Hibbett Sports TransUnion, Whirlpool, Zenni WEBSITE: wpromote.com RFP CONTACT: Eric Reisch, [email protected]
It all started with a condo, 13 dreamers and a concept for a brand experience agency. Two decades later, Xperience is still fueled by its “always find a way” spirit. Worked with violinist and composer Jason Yang to deliver a music performance supported by light projections for the launch of the 2020 Lincoln Navigator called “Taking Flight.” Also launched the Michigan Dealer Association Tech Tour, a series of one-night events executed at over 40 Dealerships aimed at bringing local customers together to learn more about how they can take advantage of Ford technologies. And its 47-foot-tall “Tower of Power” for Ford at the State Fair of Texas really turned heads.
HAS WORKED WITH: DTE Energy, Ford Motor Company, JGI, Lincoln Motor Company, Livio WEBSITE: xperiencecommunications.com RFP CONTACT: Mo Krieter, [email protected]
While the pandemic led some shops to freeze, if not reduce, headcount, Yeager Marketing grew its staff 15 percent, expanding its creative and content teams. The B2B technology marketing specialist also increased its client roster by 20 percent, with ServiceNow, TIBCO and Trox among its new accounts. To help its clients rise to the challenges that COVID-19 presented, Yeager introduced turnkey social media campaigns, a digital appointment-setting program and gamification campaigns. For FlexPod, a converged infrastructure solution from NetApp and Cisco, the agency created a rebrand that differentiated the product from its competitors while at the same time better aligning it to the brands of its parent companies.
HAS WORKED WITH: CenturyLink, Commvault, Dell EMC, NetApp, Pure Storage, Tech Data WEBSITE: yeagermarketing.com RFP CONTACT: Renee Yeager, [email protected]
ABM, customer advocacy, marketing automation, paid media, sales enablement, staffing, martech and social media are Yesler’s core capabilities. Fast-growing tech companies like SAP, Microsoft and Amazon are its clients. The Seattle-based shop focuses on what differentiates the tech-buying journey—demand for reliability, alacrity and post-sale customer support. This year it helped SAP modernize its internal marketing service request platform—previously an antiquated system whose operations were a source of frustration to employees—by implementing a new platform that sped up request delivery times by 80 percent.
HAS WORKED WITH: Amazon, Code 42, Microsoft, Mindtree, SAP WEBSITE: yesler.com RFP CONTACT:[email protected]