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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!   

Advertising Week is Here Again…

It can be all too easy to lose sight of the big picture in our “have to,” ultra-packed, always-connected day-to-day workflow that has the power to both energize and tire out the average advertising executive.  Where is the industry going? What are the key issues that are re-shaping the business?

Enter Advertising Week, the industry’s once-a-year, week-long event that brings together the brightest minds from brands, agencies, tech companies, startups, etc. to take that much-needed step back and have the broader, high-level conversations that are as needed as they are rare. Next week kicks off the 12th Advertising Week, and it will no doubt continue to spark the exciting conversations and ideas that have made it the coveted tent pole industry event it has become.

As always, DGC will be on-site, supporting a vast array of clients at this year’s festivities and tweeting, Instagram-ing, Facebooking and Hit-Boarding (read: blogging) about the most exciting news and insights offered by this year’s incredible roster of speakers – which includes Sir Martin Sorrell, Gloria Estefan, Elizabeth Vargas and Ryan Seacrest, to name just a few.

Here are some of the sessions we will be attending:

  • Do Brands Still Matter — Monday, 10:00am at the Liberty Theater
  • Capitalizing on Mobile Video — Monday, 10:00am at Times Center Stage
  • Breaking Down Social and Mobile — Monday, 2:05pm at the Grand Hyatt New York
  • Connecting in a Mobile World: A Conversation with Sheryl Sandberg — Tuesday, 10:00am at Times Center Stage
  • Frito Lay: The Intersection of Marketing & Technology — Tuesday, 10:15am at Liberty Theater
  • People, Not Pages: What Does “Buying Audiences” Mean for Media and Marketers — Tuesday, 2:00pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion
  • Stories of Creative Invention — Tuesday, 3:00pm at B.B. King
  • Getting Away: Inside the Vacation Mentality — Wednesday, 3:00pm at B.B. King
  • Are We On Target?: Making The Most Of Mobile’s Unique Power — Thursday, 9:15am at the Metropolitan Pavilion
  • The Instagram Effect — Thursday, 10:00am at Times Center Stage
  • WIRED CMOs — Thursday, 12:00pm at the NASDAQ
  • Two Start-Ups, One Mission — Thursday, 4:30pm at Times Center Hall

Please find our take on the most compelling insights on news on the DGC Hit Board, as well as on our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram feeds!

A Morning of Unconventional Ideas

Independent agency network Project: WorldWide joined forces this week with Advertising Age to host some of the brightest minds in marketing at a roundtable discussion, “The Rise of the Unconventionalists.”

The event focused on marketers who have invested in innovation including John Hayes (CMO, American Express), Denise Incandela (CMO, Saks Fifth Avenue), Russell Klein (Chief Provocateur/ Former CMO of Burger King and Arby’s) and Rick Condos (Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer, ARGONAUT, a Project: WorldWide agency).

Project’s Brian Martin, SVP Marketing and Communications, made opening remarks and shared Project’s vision for the day, to tell the stories of those who are rewriting the rules of successful experiential marketing. Judann Pollack, Deputy Editor of Ad Age, then led the panel discussion – touching on the new rules of consumer engagement, how to create provocative and successful programs, and what successful, out-of-the-box experiential marketing looks like today.

The following are highlights from the discussion:

  • “Marketers and brands need to be in awe of their customers.” In the wake of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, American Express Card Members expressed overwhelming interest in aiding relief efforts. The company heard them loud and clear and began American Express’ Members Give program that enabled members to donate reward points to important causes. John Hayes expressed awe at the sheer number of donations from Card Members – a successful experiential effort that led to an on-going program.
  • “Data makes marketers braver people.” Big Data is certainly a hot topic. Rick Condos noted that marketers used to push content out at consumers and wait months for a reaction. Now they encourage consumers to participate and engage with content – which elicits near-instant responses. This shift has enabled marketers to adapt quickly and change direction if need be. This knowledge and pace at which marketers now operate is making people braver and more willing to take risks.
  • “All great, successful advertising is rooted in an authentic piece of tension between a brand and its key consumers.” Russ Klein discussed the current Snickers campaign, “You aren’t you when you’re hungry,” and the 2005 “Subservient Chicken” campaign for Burger King. He said both of these campaigns were based on concepts rooted in a unique tension that was relevant to the brand’s consumers, and in turn, created a compelling connection between the brands and its consumers.
  • “Think nationally, act locally.” Denise Incandela shared insights about how Saks Fifth Avenue uses local stores to deploy social and digital programs. Social in particular is a big part of the retailer’s “omni” marketing plan to engage both aspirational and current customers. Saks empowers local teams to tailor content and promotions to their particular consumers because local relevance goes a long way to garner customer engagement.

 Following the panel, we caught up with Brian Martin and Rick Condos to get their key takeaways from the event – see what they had to say below.

Startups Are the Word That You Heard

In a recent piece on Forbes, How to Not Get Left Behind in Startup Land, contributor David Tao discusses the trials and tribulations about working for a startup. Tao says that people need to understand that “practically all startups will go through several phases of change before they find that magic intersection between great idea and sustainable businesses.” And he should know; over the past two years Tao has had four different jobs in the startup world.

Redspin Inc.'s Start-up Week Presentation

For others, startups are a way to start over. Take former advertising exec Tom O’Keefe, who for the past 20 years worked for DraftFCB. In an article posted on April 9 on Advertising Age, O’Keefe discusses how 10 weeks ago he made the decision to move to a startup. Why? Because he wants to become excited again—by ideas and by building something that’s meaningful. It’s a feeling that resonates with many startup entrepreneurs.

Recently, DGC spent time at Penn State University’s Start-up Week, an annual educational get-together of company founders and CEOs, started by Penn State alum and Weebly CEO David Rusenko.

The goal of the event was to provide insight to students about what it means to found a startup and to inspire them to start their own companies.

Throughout the week, Penn State students heard from Rusenko, Reddit/Hipmunk co-founder Steve Huffman, Exec founder Justin Kan and Scribd/Parse co-founder Tikhon Bernstam, just to name a few.

During our time there, DGC sat down with David Carlino, a Start-up Week presenter and Penn State alum, for a look at the life of an entrepreneur.

David Carlino (DC):  Hi, my name is David Carlino and I’m an IST graduate of 2009. Since then, I’ve worked for Network System Architects, Inc., which was a small seven-person company in Colorado Springs. After that, I moved to Redspin, Inc., which is a security company and my focus is on policy and analysis for companies.

DiGennaro Communications (DGC): Why was it important for you to attend Start-up Week?

DC: I think when I was at school, specifically IST, I thought the only option for a job was to work for very large corporations, which at the time, I thought was what I wanted to do. But since then, I’ve realized that I do like to have a little bit of ownership over my work, and I tend to not get that necessarily in the large company environment the way that I’d like to.

I wanted to come to Start-up Week to represent a small company rather than starting your own company, because for me, it’s a much better fit. I have a lot of the stability that I look for and also the opportunity to have ownership over my work. I have a little bit more responsibility, which sometimes is daunting, but for me it’s very rewarding.

DGC: Do you credit where you are now to IST?

DC: I do. I often tell people about my major that was designed with professors teaching us through experience, rather than having a teacher tell you, “This is exactly how it should be.” IST professors let you flounder for a bit, and until they know you can’t get it, you won’t get the answer from them.

In my role, currently, there’s not someone I can usually go to to ask for advice. That’s frustrating if you’ve never done that before, but IST provided me with a lot of experience and the know-how as to what to do to learn about things I might not know about and apply them to situations I’ve never seen before.

This way it’s not as frustrating as it is exciting because I realize I can do it if I keep with it. IST really gave me that level of confidence in my ability to solve problems, and also gave me a lot of experience trying.

DGC: Would you attend Start-up Week next year?

DC: Sure. I would love to. It’s always fun being at IST; the staff is always welcoming. They’re always very friendly. The experience overall was very well organized and very easy to ask questions and get answers.

What are some of your experiences with entrepreneurism? Let us know in the comments below!

Creative Dept: Handle with Care

Last week, Nina DiSesa, a creative consultant at R3:JLB, had a column in Ad Age  talking about how love and trust were necessary ingredients in successful relationships between clients and their advertising agencies. She defined a “successful” relationship as one steeped in the following:

1)      Longevity. Love and trust made the client-agency relationship last a long, long time because it meant that during any rough patch, the account lead was able to empathize and smooth things over. Thus, throwing an account into review was a rare occurrence.

2)      Solid relationships between the client and agency allowed the agency to feel comfortable taking chances to produce stellar creative. The constant threat of having to pitch against other agencies makes creative professionals insecure, and they freeze up.

3)      Good relationships lead to a happy result. Agencies produce work that resonates with customers, and client sales go up.

4)      If agency creatives feel that their client loves them, they’ll go through walls to please that client. It’s important for clients and even agencies themselves to nurture and support the creative.

DiSesa should know. For many years she was chairman chief creative officer of the New York office of McCann-Erickson.  DGC’s own CEO Sam DiGennaro wholeheartedly agreed with DiSesa’s column, offering, in part, this insight (via online comments):

“… intimidation, ‘gotchas’ and fear tactics have the trickle-down effect of demoralized talent, marginalized results and, worst case, commoditized offerings. This hurts everyone in the long run.”

A lot of others weighed in as well with equally interesting perspectives. Worth a read if you haven’t seen it.

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.

CES 2012: A Move from Devices to Content

While CES 2012 has passed, the buzz still lingers. We bet there are a few of you still wondering how a consumer electronics show is significant to your business. Well, from everything we’re reading and hearing, CES’ content has evolved beyond the usual technology conference. Coverage and attendee insights suggest that CES has jumped on the content bandwagon with companies talking less about new devices and more about content consumption (something we can all benefit from knowing).

Today, Mindshare’s Antony Young has a piece in Advertising Age about why CES is a must-attend event for marketing execs. Young compares attending CES to that of attending a live football game—in both cases, the experience and perspective gained from being there are significantly better than from the couch or behind the computer, touching on the content, networking opportunities and inspiration to be found on site at CES.

DIGIDAY’s Brian Morrissey also attended the conference and provided daily reports on what most impressed media and marketing execs at CES. The day-by-day recap included thoughts about the role that mobile and other communications devices continue to play in connecting consumers to content. Executives from Organic, Mullen and Tremor Video were just a few of those who weighed in on CES action: Recap Day 1, Recap Day 2, Recap Day 3.

Even though new technology wasn’t king at this event, Shelly Palmer, host of NBC Universal’s Live Digital with Shelly Palmer and other shows, offered highlights in the Huffington Post about technologies and the implications of “connected living.” Palmer flew high into the cloud, while homing in on the changing behaviors of today’s leading consumer electronics brands and efforts to create universal systems that work across devices.

Now the question remains, will you be there next year?

Tub Gin, Rad Bromance and a hot dog stand: A behind-the-scenes look at Red Tettemer + Partners’ 7th Annual 2wenty 5ifth Floor Event

Last Friday, a couple DGC-ers traveled to the “Birthplace of America” (a.k.a. Philadelphia) to attend the seventh annual 2wenty 5ifth Floor party – created and developed by Red Tettemer + Partners. Every year, the agency hosts the 2wenty 5ifth Floor to celebrate the innovation and creativity of the art and design communities. The invite-only event has been held for seven years and draws writers, musicians, designers and advertisers in the community.

Upon entering the party, we were greeted by an award-filled wagon, a claw-foot bathtub and the agency’s very own super premium Tub Gin, as well as slushies (made with Tub Gin.) We later learned that this was just one of three full-service bars placed throughout the two floors of the party space. If you haven’t had a chance to see the Red Tettemer + Partners office space, you should check out their feature in AdAge’s “Agency Digs.” It’s AMAZING!

Thankfully our imbibing was complemented by plenty of treats, including a hot dog stand and Philly soft pretzels – a huge hit among our team. Did you know that the average Philadelphian consumes about 12 times as many pretzels as the national average? Who knew?

We even had a chance to sit down with Red Tettemer + Partners’ own President and Chief Creative Officer Steve Red to get his thoughts on the annual event. Here’s what he had to say:

We mingled and made our way to the second floor stage and grooved to Brooklyn-based electronic pop duo, Chairlift, while anxiously awaiting the main act: Rad Bromance, the phenomenal Lady Gaga cover band. Don’t take our word for it, check out the video below. 

Alas, the bands eventually finished their sets as we finished our night on the dance floor! It was a blast with an amazing turnout. We’re so happy we could celebrate this special night with Red Tettemer + Partners and look forward to next year’s 2wenty 5ifth Floor!

The ANA Masters of Marketing Conversation Continues

The marketing and advertising community ascended on Phoenix last week for the Association of National Advertiser’s annual Masters of Marketing conference creating buzz around current marketing trends such as Facebook’s dominance and gamification and taking a look at how the industry is fairing in a troubled economy. Although this ANA event has come to a close, coverage of the event continues to surface.

This past Monday New York Times advertising reporter Stuart Elliott recounted the economics conversation in his article “Economy Casts Shadow on Advertisers’ Forum.” According to Elliott, attendees seemed thankful that the economy had not caved-in on the industry, but were still highly aware of the lofty unemployment rate and continued “sluggish pace of growth” on the economy. He quoted Stephen Quinn, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Walmart U.S. as saying “Certainly, it’s been a roller coaster of a year, with all the volatility. We’re being disrupted, just like many of the people in this room.”

While the down economy dominated the conversation at the conference, marketers weren’t talking about it as all bad. Elliott reported that several speakers used it as a call to action inferring that “uncertain times [creates] an increased willingness to take risks with bold ideas.”

DGC’s very own Chief Content Officer Melanie Wells attended the conference and had a few key takeaways to share as well:

Marketers seem resigned to a new normal. They are also eager to get ideas and hear ideas from their peers. This year more top executive attendees and speakers, including Walmart CMO Stephen Quinn and Martha Stewart, lingered to sit in on sessions and talk to others who were there. Executives realize that times have changed and the time is now to learn new ways to connect with consumers now that ‘social is at the core’ of marketing. There was a lot of talk about data, of course, but Kraft’s Dana Anderson urged attendees to accept ‘intuition as a valid contributor to clarity.

Today, Advertising Age also posted videos of key speakers that give a great sense of the conversations that took place. In the first video, Kraft’s Senior VP of Marketing and Communications Dana Anderson sheds light on Kraft’s “leap” philosophy and gives a compelling talk on taking marketing to the next level by being open to unusual solutions to problems.

Did you attend ANA’s Masters of Marketing? What was your biggest takeaway?

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