You've been working so hard all year that it's hard to believe it's that time of year again: Agency A-List time.
This is the opportunity for you to spend a little time crafting your story -- to share the work you've produced over the year and, just as important, show us how that work is improving your clients' business.
Ad Age is accepting submissions for our annual Agency A-List that honors the best shops -- regardless of discipline or specialty.
Over the past few years, the top honor has gone to MDC Partners' 72andSunny; independent Wieden & Kennedy; and Dentsu's McGarryBowen. Do you think you have what it takes to join them in being named our Agency of the Year?
In addition to the top spot, nine other agencies representing the best in the U.S. will compose our Agency A-List. In recent years, the caliber of agencies submitting has improved dramatically and the competition is fierce. Because there are so many on the threshold of the top 10, as well as an explosion of new shops opening their doors, we'll also highlight 10 Standout Shops as well as 10 Agencies to Watch.
Additional honors highlighted as part of our A-List package include:
Creativity Agency of the Year. In 2013, that honor went to Wieden & Kennedy, Portland. This award is given to a single agency office that has demonstrated the most innovative, forward-thinking ideas of the year. For this honor, you have two choices: either highlight the office and detail its work as part of your broader Ad Age submission, or send a separate submission for that office to firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to naming a Creativity Agency of the Year, Creativity will also select a list celebrating 2013's notable creative shops.
International Agency of the Year. This means either a single office that's part of a network or an independent shop based outside of the U.S. Each international submission should cover one country; for example, if you're entering from Australia, you don't need separate entries from Sydney or Melbourne. Last year's winner was Lowe SSP3.
Multicultural Agency of the Year. Our winner last year was Latinworks.
Depending on the quality of the entries, we reserve the right to bestow a few additional honors, including an agency executive of the year. Last year Translation CEO Steve Stoute was awarded that honor.
Many of you have done this before, so you know the drill. But we also want to uncover new potential honorees, so please do not shy away if you've never thrown your hat in the ring before. Agencies frequently tell us that as difficult as it can be to put together a killer A-List entry, it's also a great exercise to share with staff internally your shop's accomplishments over the course of year.
To help guide you in the process, we've presented answers to the most frequently asked questions about submitting. If you have additional queries, please email us at email@example.com. We strongly urge you to thoroughly comb through the FAQ section first though so we're not being pinged with a query that we've already addressed below. We may or may not deduct points for that!
GUIDELINES FOR ENTRY
What does Ad Age look for in selecting top agencies to be honored as part of the A-List issue?
Evidence of an agency's business success, conveyed by revenue growth, income growth and a killer new-business record. If your agency has developed innovative channels for making money, via collaborations or intellectual property, or by influencing or even creating products, make sure to include those too.
Ad Age also heavily weighs how the agency has delivered results for its clients. We're looking for shops that come up with creative and effective solutions to clients' business problems, with meaningful, measurable results that back those claims. (And please note, we don't necessarily define "creative" as the most beautiful or groundbreaking TV commercial -- it can also be demonstrated with creative thinking about a business problem.)
So what should an agency submit?
The following six things should be included in your A-List submission:
1. Three to five of your best client case studies, including all the relevant work as well as an explanation of the business challenges, your strategy and tactics and, most importantly, the results. The timeframe for this work is Nov. 1, 2012 through current day. We most highly value hard business results like sales and market share, but we'll also consider other indicators such as evidence of how work has penetrated popular culture and engaged consumers. You can also include publicly available data, such as sales, or market share data provided by IRI. Share a stock chart for your client, and show us how you moved market cap. Be inventive -- but be accountable.
2. A picture of your growth. We realize some of you will need to be discreet here but give us a sense of how your revenue has grown or declined in year-to-date percentage terms as well as a sense of where that revenue comes from (e.g., 5% mobile, 30% digital). We're interested in projected calendar 2013 revenue, a sense of how headcount has changed and any key senior hires. Please feel free to tap into Ad Age estimates of your performance to help us understand this. (Yes, accessing DataCenter data requires a DataCenter subscription.)
3. Provide a detailed list of account wins and losses with their estimated revenue per annum. (If you have IP projects or other new revenue streams that are not client related, please note them as well).
4. Describe your agency culture in no more than 250 words. What have you done to foster talent, a creative workplace and collaboration?
5. Diversity. Share your staff's gender breakdown and, if applicable, what percentage of your creative department is female. Then tell us what percentage of your overall staff is multicultural, and what percentage of your creative department is multicultural. (Don't lie -- you'll get caught). If you feel like it, include a little information regarding your diversity recruiting strategy and success metrics for those efforts. The diversity question is only for U.S. agencies and doesn't apply to international agency of the year entries.
6. Share a few photos that you think represent your agency. They could be of your principals and top execs, the agency space, the bar cart, the pool table. This will give us a flavor for the special vibe you've created at your agency, but will also be retained for potential use in our A-List package, either print or online, and beyond.
Is there anything important to add?
Since you asked, yes: Know that anything you send might end up being published -- think of it as entering the public domain. We're not going to put you on the A-List for all the secret things you're doing that you can only share off the record.
How do you submit?
This is the key part. After all, what good is all that hard work that you put into the submission unless it's manages to reach us safely, and in the proper form? This is a paperless process. Think green! Eschew the hard leather-bound portfolios and plastic DVDs. Instead, put everything up on a website and send us the URL. There are no points for fancy presentation here -- use a Tumblr account, Wordpress, we don't care. Though, we really hope that in this day and age, you won't opt for a PDF. The easier the information is for us to find and digest, the better. Send the URL to firstname.lastname@example.org (and if it is password protected don't forget to send that too).
What's the deadline?
The final deadline is Nov. 5th. This will NOT be extended. Of course, if you hear about a new business win a few weeks before the December holidays and want to share that with us to add some extra oomph to your case, you can email us and let us know so we'll take it into consideration.
Can we have an extension to the deadline?
See previous question. We require adequate time to read, research, interview, write, photograph, design the magazine feature, etc. So please please get all your entries in by no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Does entering cost money?
It's free. Can you believe it?! (Though Ad Age does offer plenty of ways you can promote your agency in our pages and pixels outside the A-List, such as the LookBook. For more info on those opportunities, contact Lisa Scotto, on our business side, at email@example.com).