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RESULTS, REVENUE, & REINVENTION: OUR LOOK AT THE AD AGE A-LIST

Creative work that drove results. Double-digit revenue growth. Throwing open the doors to reinvention.

That was the formula that propelled ten agencies to the heights of this year’s Advertising Age A-List.

In looking at the winner’s circle, we analyzed some of the traits that helped comprise the winners who are shaking us out of comfort zones and reshaping the advertising industry.

Blazing the way was Droga5, winning both Ad Age’s and Creativity’s Agency of the Year award. Described by Ad Age as “restless”, Droga5 found ways to extend the reach of dynamic brands like Under Armour and Google, as well more conventional ones like insurance giant, Prudential and toilet paper manufacturer, Great Northern. The marketplace embraced Droga’s creativity as seen by several new client wins which contributed to a jump in revenue growth from $78 million in 2014 to $126 million.

Double-digit growth was a factor common to all members of the A-List ranging from a low end of 10 percent (McCann/VML) to a high of 62 percent (Droga). A-Listers were able to ratchet up their growth through organic, as well high profile client wins.

The ability to inspire new and innovative ideas was also on display in this year’s round-up. In 2015, Los Angeles based 72andSunny expanded its in-house incubator, 72U, while launching Brand Citizenship, an offering that connects​ ​with consumers on a cause to build brand love. R/GA partnered with Owlet, a product of its own “accelerator program,” to develop a sock that monitors infant’s vital signs. Already it has been attributed with saving three lives. These are tremendous ideas that serve as industry benchmarks.

Beyond the A-List, was another group of agencies that are solving client challenges and are poised to take a shot at top slots in the future. WPP creative shop Ogilvy & Mather was recognized as an Agency Stand Out for landing a piece of Coca-Cola’s media business coming out of one of this year’s biggest media reviews – further evidence that big, bold ideas and pushing the boundaries always prevail .

Daring to take a fearless and ambitious approach to marketing contributed to The Community’s Multicultural Agency of the Year recognition. Their work for brands such as, Corona Extra and Modelo Especial, were so well-received that they’ve now moved into the mainstream market.

While the DGC team is very familiar with the submission process and the standard form agencies fill out is imperative, the process truly begins at early on each year. All of the winners in this issue, and in the past, had been eyeing Ad Age’s A-List as soon as the prior year’s results were published. It is no easy feat – a huge effort that demands excellence from all aspects and areas of agency business: creative, strategy and finance. Fostering relationships, sharing news, ideas and agency developments with Ad Age throughout the year (both on and off the record) will keep you on their radar and put you in prime position for the 2017 A-List submission.

Congratulations to all of the winners, we’re especially delighted and proud that so many of our clients are on the list…you know who you are!   

4A’s PR Forum: 8 Tips for Pitching Reporters

The 4A’s, the leading trade association for ad agencies, held its second 4A’s Public Relations Forum, this year at J. Walter Thompson’s beautiful NYC offices on May 14, and the event drew a packed house.

Dubbed “24/7 Always On Communications,” the event brought together business journalists and hundreds of communications professionals from PR agencies and ad agencies to discuss changes in news gathering and media relations practices.

Top reporters from outlets including Fast Company, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, Adweek and USA Today, as well as PR practitioners from agencies including, CP+B, FCB and Mullen lent their expertise on topics concerning reputation management and crisis communications. Additionally, executives from Twitter and Facebook discussed how social media engagement and real-time communications continues to change the world of earned media.

Still, media relations is the bread and butter of the PR practice, and journalist speakers talked about how technology and emerging media channels continue to impact their profession.

Below are eight insights that PR practitioners should keep in mind when engaging with the media in this 24/7 “Always On” world.

  1. Technology works. Almost all reporter panelists said that if you sent an email, “we got your pitch, and there’s no need to follow up four or five times to check.”  That said, if you want to follow up once, Laura Petrecca  from USA Today suggests writing “FOLLOW UP” in your subject line to make your point clear.
  2. Relationships are key. Reporters are much more apt to take your call if they know you. The takeaway?  Build those connections now; they will pay off for years to come.
  3. Sometimes it’s just about luck: Ever wonder why the pitch you spent hours writing got no response but the one that took ten minutes got an immediate reply?  The truth is, there isn’t a real answer other than timing. As Fast Company’s Editor Bob Safian pointed out, “It’s like getting a parking spot in the mall at Christmas time – it could take one minute, it could take 20. It depends what’s happening on that specific day and time — don’t take it personally.”
  4. The “aha” moment. Reporters and editors are looking for something new and surprising for their readers. If your pitched doesn’t elicit an “a-ha” moment it will be deleted.
  5. Remember the “why.”  When pitching a story, it is essential to include the “why.” While this may seem like a given, the Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica said it was surprising how many pitches she reads that bury the “why.” Remember to include the business challenge or impetus for your storyline.
  6. Social media is critical. Reporters use social media to inform their stories and gauge hot topics of the day, so PR professionals should align pitches with topics reporters seem to have on their radars. As Twitter’s Melissa Barnes reminded the audience, “Not only are stories being discussed on the platform, sometimes they are breaking on Twitter.” With social comes more competition than ever for reporters, so it’s imperative to stay close to the real-time conversation and how it’s informing journalism.
  7. Deadlines don’t exist. They have become almost irrelevant.  Everything is so real-time that reporters don’t always have time to respond to your pitch.
  8. Be concise. Suzanne Vranica says that actually, a one-sentence pitch via phone is more effective than a three-paragraph email. Take that to heart.

 

Digital Denizens: Reporting from the Future

“Digital Denizens: Reporting from the Future” panel. From left to right: Michael Learmonth, Ad Age; Todd Wasserman of Mashable; Brian Braiker Digiday reporter; moderator is Jill Kelly, Chief Communications Officer of Digitas.

SXSW 2013: Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Ethos on Accelerated Learning for Accelerated Times

I’ve long been a fan of Tim Ferriss, best-selling author of the 4-Hour Work Week and arguably one of the world’s most effective men and if you’re introduced by Hugh Forrest the Director of SXSWi, I’m thinking you’re kind of a big deal.

Ferriss’ tenacity is infectious and I find that he’s one of these speakers that sends you off to think hard about how much time you waste and what you could achieve if you found better, faster ways to do things.

Here are some takeouts from his Acquiring the Skill of Meta-Learning SXSW presentation:

  • His 4-Hour ethos is about accelerated learning for accelerated times. He applies a theory of DiSSS (Deconstruction, Selection, Sequence + Stakes – outlined further in “What You Can Learn From Author Tim Ferriss, the Four-Hour Marketer” by Ad Age’s Steve Rubel) to all of the goals he wants to achieve.
  • Central to his philosophy is questioning: What if I did the opposite of best practices? What if I did this task in reverse?
  • The worst time to learn a skill is when you really have to use it. Pressure is not your friend when picking up something new.
  • He cites the biggest impediment to learning a new skill is saying yes to too many things. Steve Jobs echoes this by way of his quote “Innovation is saying No to 1,000 things.”
  • Cute factoid: Before his first appearance at SXSW many years ago, Ferriss focused on max’ing his on-stage energy to keep audiences engaged by practicing in his friend’s garage in front of his three Chihuahuas. If his energy dropped, the Chihuahuas walked away (or worse, went to sleep). No-one can say this man isn’t dedicated to a high standard of quality.

I have found PR to be one of those professions where being effective gives you the thinking time to bring strategic value to your clients and most importantly to achieve a work/life balance that bears the gift of clarity (and sanity!). A 4-hour work week maybe not, but even adding a zero would land us PR folk in a pretty great place.

You should also check out Tim’s promo video for his new book, the 4-Hour Chef. Not only is it a slick piece of content, it synthesizes the 4-Hour Ethos, whether you’re looking to learn how to cook, learn a language or learn how to be.

The 2013 Ad Age A-List is out. What does it take to make the grade?

A-list-badge-generalIn one of the most anticipated unveilings each year, Ad Age yesterday released its annual Agency A-list issue, which highlights the industry’s top agencies and talent from the previous year. We’re thrilled to announce that two of our clients (and many other industry friends) made the list – TargetCast for “Agency to Watch,” and Translation Founder & CEO, Steve Stoute, for “Executive of the Year.

While the A-list is undoubtedly one of the ad industry’s most coveted honors, few people know how much time, effort and strategy it takes to secure a spot on this list. One would think that because agencies are in the business of selling products and services, that it should be a breeze to promote themselves. Truth is, it takes a strong new business record, standout talent, memorable and cutting-edge work, and most importantly, a strong story that ties it all together and catches the attention of Ad Age’s editors.

This year’s A-list Agency of the Year, 72andSunny, had what it took to land at the top of the list. Not only did the shop make waves for  bold Samsung work that took a direct hit at rival Apple, it grew billings by 66% and invested in top talent. One big hire was  Scott Trattner, an ECD who previously worked on Apple’s advertising at TBWA\Chiat\Day.

New business track records were common among this year’s winners: Agency 360i, number two on the list, brought in over $600 million in billings with business from Hanes, Verizon, Trident and H&R Block.  Grey, number three on the list, won an astounding 21 of 23 new-business pitches in which it participated– Whole Foods, Marriott Resorts, Olive Garden, EmergenC, Radio Shack — worth more than $450 million in billings.

Innovation is important, too. Our friends at La Comunidad, one of DGC’s launch clients and number seven on this list, created the “Volvo in Every Car” app. It lets users zap badges of rival car brands to see all the Volvo-created technology inside other cars.

For agencies that may not have won hundreds of millions of dollars in new business, but are showing promising momentum, there is the “Agencies to Watch,” category, to which our own Targetcast was named. This mid-size media agency’s “David vs. Goliath” story combined with a growing new business pipeline and a sale to global holding company MDC Partners all laddered up to a well-deserved place on this list. A shout out goes to DGC friend and client JWT for also making the watch list on the back of standout work for Band-Aid and Macy’s, and a slew of key hires over the last two years that included Jeff Benjamin, Mike Geiger and Ryan Kutscher. DDB New York was named Creativity’s Agency to Watch in 2013 for its mantra of reinvention and stand-out work including Tropicana’s morning commute campaign and a pro-bono social media campaign for Water for Life centering around the hashtag #firstworldproblems.

Agency executives, too, are honored for their leadership, business results and out-of-the-box thinking as part of this list. This year, no one other than our own client Steve Stoute, CEO of Translation, could be more deserving of honor. Steve’s “outsider” perspective (he spent years in the music biz), experiential approach to marketing (Translation was behind Budweiser’s Made in America festival with headliners Jay Z and Pearl Jam), philosophy on why hip hop culture has become mainstream (he wrote best-selling book “The Tanning of America”), and extensive new business successes (Translation has 60% revenue growth in 2012 with work from clients like McDonald’s State Farm and A-B InBev) have all proven Steve is not just capable of launching music careers, but has a long road ahead in the ad business, as well.

This year’s A-list is comprised of an exciting and innovative group of companies and people, some of whom we’re proud to call clients and work with day in and day out. We’ll be following this group and their creative endeavors closely this year, and can’t wait to see what they do next. Congrats!

You can see the full wrap here (or in this week’s print edition): Ad Age 2013 A-List

Ad Age Media Buzz Competition at MEC

Ad Age is hosting an ongoing, interactive competition titled “Ad Age Media Buzz” amongst various top media agencies this month in an effort to unite the different companies with a little friendly competition. On Thursday, August 9, 2012, reporters, sponsors, employees, and executives gathered at MEC’s New York office location to witness the trivia-style showdown, where teams of MEC employees competed against each other internally to see who knew the most about ad industry knowledge.

After a warm welcome from Marla Kaplowitz, CEO of MEC North America, a handful of MEC teams congregated around their designated team tables while Ad Age’s Editor-In-Chief Abbey Klaassen and Media Editor Nat Ives proposed industry-based questions to the teams throughout a total of 4 rounds, ultimately revealing the MEC team to possess the most knowledge of the advertising industry. In between rounds, employees socialized, ate, drank, and overall appeared to be enjoying the competition as a nice break from their typical workdays.

The winning team from Thursday’s rounds will move on to compete against reigning teams from other agencies in an ultimate showdown showcasing which agency’s employees are most seasoned with industry knowledge. Outside of promoting friendly competition, the goal of the Ad Age Media Buzz competition is to encourage industry professionals to increase their time spent reading up on current industry information available through various publications and outlets.

DGC was lucky enough to interview Jamie Ciamillo, a Senior Digital Planner for MEC. In her brief interview, Jamie talked to DGC about how the Ad Age Media Buzz competition amalgamated employees across all different departments within the agency, something she found to be a stimulating and opportune experience for socializing with people who she doesn’t typically get to see on a conventional workday.

Thursday’s Ad Age Media Buzz competition at MEC served as an exciting way to network with industry professionals as well as a chance for all ends of the advertising community to come together.

Senior Digital Planner, Jamie Ciamillo, MEC, shares her experience at the Ad Age Media Buzz competition.

AWNY Panel Tells Us What’s Hot in Public Relations This Year

DGC (DiGennaro Communications) had the pleasure of recently attending the AWNY panel “What’s Hot in Public Relations: 2012” moderated by Ad Age’s Alexandra Bruell. It was an enlightening discussion among proven PR pros – all of whom felt strongly that the outlook for the industry is quite bright.   A bit of a “kumbaya” affair, Darlan Monterisi (Porter Novelli), Liz Kaplow (Kaplow), Lisa Rosenberg (Euro RSCG PR), and Jill Dosik (GCI Health) all thought that 2012 would bring a renewed focus on working together across marketing industries to bring ideas to life. Along with this message of unity came a sincere hope that the year ahead would bring a return to real world engagement and a healthier balance between offline and online interaction.We had the pleasure of recently attending the AWNY panel “What’s Hot in Public Relations: 2012” moderated by Ad Age’s Alexandra Bruell. It was an enlightening discussion among proven PR pros – all of whom felt strongly that the outlook for the industry is quite bright.

A bit of a “kumbaya” affair, Darlan Monterisi (Porter Novelli), Liz Kaplow (Kaplow), Lisa Rosenberg (Euro RSCG PR), and Jill Dosik (GCI Health) all thought that 2012 would bring a renewed focus on working together across marketing industries to bring ideas to life. Along with this message of unity came a sincere hope that the year ahead would bring a return to real world engagement and a healthier balance between offline and online interaction.

Below are more highlights on what will be hot in PR this year – even if it’s a bit cold outside right now.

10 Hot Topics for 2012:

  1. Cross-Industry Collaboration: increasingly, advertisers, marketers and PR pros, united by a concept or idea, will join forces and be judged on the overall success of activating the galvanizing idea
  2. Real World Engagement: more and more consumers will turn away from the screen and look to connect offline
  3. Customer Service: the last untapped army for PR, brands will turn to PR experts to improve their customer service operations
  4. Mobile: technology will continue to evolve and broaden engagement opportunities
  5. Media Training in the C-Suite: given increased transparency at the senior level, executives will need full-immersion media training to remain on message and be prepared to navigate a crisis
  6. Rapid Response: with a 24/7 news cycle, clients need strategic counsel on issues across all media platforms at the drop of a hat; PR pros need to learn to keep up
  7. Content, Content, Content: PR shops will become “editor & chief” of the brand, as companies will increasingly become content hubs, creating their own and curating work on topics relevant to their business
  8. Analytics: there will be an increasing onus on PR professionals to “prove the effectiveness of their work” in terms of quality, not just quantity – which will spur greater tracking tools
  9. Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR will be an integral (and expected) part of any 360o public relations program
  10. Internal Communications: clients will lean on PR to help smooth internal communications as CEOs show greater appreciation for full team engagement

As DGC looks ahead, content, analytics and corporate social responsibility are at the top of our list to keep us hot in 2012!

Four DGC Clients Make Ad Age’s A-List

Advertising Age AdAge Agency A List 2012 DGC DiGennaro Communications winnersA huge congratulations to Arnold, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Organic and Translation – four DGC clients who made this year’s Ad Age & Creativity‘s A-List issues!  We’re incredibly proud of each for achieving this wonderful accolade. Here’s a little more about what each agency was honored for:

    • Arnold: Arnold earned the #10 spot on Ad Age’s A-List for impressive 2011 revenue growth, thanks to new business wins from Dell and Tribe Hummus and growth from existing clients like Volvo, Hershey and Ocean Spray. Arnold’s work for Progressive got special mention. Who doesn’t love Flo, the customer-service rep Arnold created for the brand? In addition to driving results, Flo was one of the most popular Halloween costumes of 2011. Progressive’s CMO says he treats the agency as “part of my extended staff.”
    • Goodby, Silverstein & Partners:  Goodby, Silverstein & Partners was named to Creativity’s A-List. Creativity editors called out the agency for striking a “technical and touching” tone with its Chevy “Then and Now” campaign. Also lauded: the agency’s stunts for Chevy, which included sending a Sonic on a digital remote-controlled bungee jump.
    • Organic: Organic was named Comeback Agency of the Year, thanks to an incredible new business run in 2011 following a recession-induced loss of two marquee accounts the previous year. Organic brought in more than 10 new pieces of business in 2011, brands like Pepsi, The Hartford, Hasbro, and more, and launched its first-ever TV spot, a collaboration with acclaimed filmmaker Darren Aronofksy, for the Meth Project.  It’s no wonder their client Kimberly-Clark called them “the smartest guys in the room.”
    • Translation:  Translation was honored as a standout agency of the year, thanks growing revenue by a staggering  60 percent last year and doubling their headcount. Translation received praise for bringing in major clients like Coca Cola and, Nokia. Next to come from Translation: a Super Bowl spot for Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light Platinum.

Do You “Dig” It Enough To Work Here?

In a recent episode of “Agency Digs,” Ad Age stopped by Philly-based creative agency, Red Tettemer + Partners, and gave President and Chief Creative Officer Steve Red a chance to show off their quirky office space.

From funky furnishings and a plethora of employee knick-knacks to a hallway of “bad art,” Red took viewers on an entertaining tour of the office, which occupies the top two floors of the historic Pennsylvania National Bank (and includes the former penthouse of department store magnate Wanamaker) in the heart of downtown Philadelphia.

The virtual tour introduced viewers to the staff, the space and more important – the agency’s culture.

“It’s constantly changing, constantly inspiring, like a living art piece,” said Red.

Only the second office space to be featured on Ad Age’s “Agency Digs,” RT+P does a great job showcasing its unique brand and off-the-wall take on office life.

Who wouldn’t want to work in an office that encourages free-expression and allows employees to blow off steam in its own “Rock Band” room?

For industry job seekers, it’s often hard to narrow down what kind of agency would be a “good fit.” Is it the employees you’ll be working with, the space that you’ll occupy each day or the overall agency culture? Arguably, it could be all three.

That’s why we think this video is more than just an office tour – it’s a fabulous PR/marketing piece for the agency and the Red Tettemer brand. Just as you’re admiring the creativity that lives around every corner and on every wall of the office, you might also wonder, could I see myself here?

RT+P’s “digs” are definitely as unique as the work that comes out of its shop. This Ad Age feature does a wonderful job of enticing people to find out more about the agency and maybe even remind current employees how cool and unconventional their work place is.

Check out the video here and tell us what you think…

If Your Roots are Forgotten Then Your Fruits Will Rotten

Lessons from the Re-Launch of Adweek

Given that our bread and butter exists in handling PR for advertising and marketing services agencies, you can imagine our anticipation of the Adweek re-launch. New reporters to pitch, column inches to fill, stories to sell! In our business, Adweek is one of two decades-old trade Bibles (the other being Advertising Age). After Brandweek and Mediaweek slowly folded into online-only outlets over the past few months and Adweek went from weekly to bi-weekly mailings, we had less room for client ink. Not necessarily the best scenario for a business that prides itself on helping agencies reach influential decision makers in a highly-fragmented and narrowly covered industry.

Truth is, Adweek has spent months reconfiguring the book, shaking up its staff, and deciphering how to keep pace with and stay relevant to the ever-evolving industry that is advertising (or is it media? or is it digital?). All the while, we’ve done what we do best – innovate by necessity. We landed profile pieces on our clients’ CEOs and told stories about culture-shifting trends around diversity and shopper marketing to publications like Time and Forbes. We encouraged our clients to commission studies – like a recent one by WPP’s Geppetto Group that found Boomers are actually seeking youth-oriented brands. And while Adweek, like an old college friend, was always in the back of our minds, we figured we’d know when the time was right to resurrect the relationship.

And so it came. April 18. The re-launch of Adweek. We passed around the new glossy like it was People magazine. Maybe that’s because it was like People magazine. With a proliferation of color photos and data info graphics, a slicker design and a deeper focus on entertainment media (see: Story on Arianna Huffington), the new Adweek isn’t your father’s trade magazine (as Editorial Director Michael Wolff eloquently put it in his letter to readers). And, while the new Adweek looks and feels different, it still fills the void that it left during its hiatus (or paint-drying re-launch as some might call it). The cover story features hot agencies that are popping up in Brooklyn, and another article discusses Detroit’s efforts to revitalize its ad business amidst a financially-disadvantaged city. And so between the pages of glitz and glamour, we are reminded of our own roots, and why it’s okay to do what you do best, while leaving room to reinvent the wheel here and there. And with that, we tip our hats to Adweek and offer a big round of applause, with a reminder that we’ll be calling soon, of course. Congrats.

Sunday Sizzled at SXSWi

Sunday offered another jam-packed day of activity at SXSWi. Here are a few highlights on what we heard:

  • The Future15 track offered fast-paced, rapid-fire micro-presentations that were short on time but big on content. Tim Washer, Social Media Manager for Cisco, discussed humor in advertising. Washer proved that funny ads aren’t just aimed at consumers – B2B ads with a sense of humor pack a big punch. Reminds us of the great Y&R ads for Xerox.
  • Brands should embrace a sense of play to stay relevant, according to William Charnock and Andrea Ring, R/GA’s Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director of Planning. To avoid going the way of Borders, Blockbuster and Kodak, brands must be real in real time – free themselves from the shackles of too-long development cycles and engage consumers now.
  • Will email become obsolete? Ad Age’s Kunur Patel cited her own sister-in-law’s Facebook habits as anecdotal proof that different generations use social media in different ways. The notion that email will become irrelevant was difficult for the crowd at the “Has Facebook Jumped the Shark” panel to fathom, but, as Patel pointed out, that wouldn’t have been the case if the room were full of 17-year olds

More to come as we kick off another day at SXSWi.