Spurred by continued economic growth, as well as political and Olympic advertising, b-to-b agencies had a strong year in 2012—increasing their revenue, adding new business and developing compelling work for clients. During the first nine months of the year, overall advertising totaled $101.3 billion, up nearly 4.0% over 2011, according to Kantar Media.
“We got into some really big pitches and delivered iconic campaigns for clients,” said Christoph Becker, CEO of gyro, New York, winner of the large agency category.
gyro's revenue grew 6.0% to $103.7 million last year, and it won new b-to-b accounts including Aimia, Aramark, Cloudera Inc., Deloitte, Quaker Chemical Corp. and Smart Technologies.
gyro delivered success for its clients by focusing on the “human” element of b-to-b marketing.
For example, it created an election-themed campaign for Lincoln Financial Group, timed to coincide with the U.S. presidential election season. The campaign, “Hail to the Chief Life Officer,” showed how Lincoln Financial can help put investors in charge of their lives.
“The reason the "Chief Life Officer' campaign has been so successful is that it pays close attention equally to both the science and the art of marketing,” said Jamie DePeau, CMO at Lincoln Financial, which named gyro as its agency of record in 2011.
“It is grounded in solid research and was tested every step of the way—and gyro helped us develop a message that is compelling and focuses on giving individuals the tools and information they need to be in charge of their lives. It focuses on them, not on us.”
Ogilvy & Mather North America, New York, runner-up in the large agency category, used humor and storytelling to develop emotional connections in campaigns it developed for CDW Corp., IBM Corp. and United Parcel Service of America.
For CDW, Ogilvy featured basketball star Charles Barkley in its “People Who Get IT” campaign. It highlighted a famous play—the “Hail Flutie”—from a 1984 college football game in its “We Love Logistics” campaign for UPS to show how precision is necessary for success.
John Osborn, president-CEO of BBDO New York, which received honorable mention in the large agency category, also pointed to the importance of storytelling in b-to-b campaigns.
“If you look at how these stories are told, it is done in a very authentic, human way,” Osborn said, pointing to a campaign the agency created for General Electric Co. called “GE Works.” The campaign featured GE employees, showing how they contribute to the development of products such as aircraft engines and healthcare equipment that helps saves lives.
Many of the top b-to-b agencies registered double-digit growth last year through new clients and organic growth.
“It was a record year for us,” said Dan Nelson Jr., president-CEO of Nelson Schmidt, Milwaukee, winner of the small agency category. The agency grew its revenue by 17% and won new clients including Polaris Industries, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) and the Alerton Building Automation Systems and Trend Controls business units of Honeywell Environmental and Combustion Controls.
For Polaris Industries, Nelson Schmidt helped introduce a new commercial electric car business following Polaris' acquisition of the Global Electric Motorcar business of Chrysler in 2011.
Nelson Schmidt also created a branding campaign called “In Wisconsin” for WEDC, featuring successful businesses based in Wisconsin. The campaign included print, online and out-of-home.
Stein+Partners Brand Activation, New York, winner in the midsize category, increased total agency revenue last year by 13% to $15.3 million, and won new b-to-b clients including Automatic Data Processing, Applause, Avail-TVN, Chief Executive Group, Crisp Media, InnerWorkings, Local Design Solutions, Maxwell Systems and TrustedID.
“We've had a run of success for the past decade,” said Tom Stein, president-chief creative officer of Stein+Partners. “We did an agency rebranding in 2011 [changing its name to Stein+Partners Brand Activation], and it all came to fruition last year.”
The agency created content-driven campaigns for clients, such as an integrated effort for enterprise collaboration company IntraLinks that included a website, digital ads, mobile, print, email, social media and search.
Doremus, New York, runner-up in the midsize category, saw its revenue grow by 25% last year, and it won such new b-to-b clients as Columbia Business School, Gemalto, LifeSize, Pfizer, SanDisk Corp., Sun Life Financial and Underwriters Laboratories.
PJA, Cambridge, Mass., honorable mention in the midsize category, had revenue growth of 32% and client wins including Equinix, FIS Global, Genzyme, Parallon Business Solutions and Red Hat.
Interactive agencies also saw strong growth.
Traction, San Francisco, the winner in the interactive category, had revenue growth of 20% and new client wins including First Republic Bank, Kelly Moore Paint and MasterImage 3D.
“We had a very good year,” said Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction. “We've had growth from new and existing accounts.”
Traction expanded its work for existing clients such as California Bank & Trust and professional staffing agency Robert Half International.
MRM, New York, runner-up in the interactive category, won new b-to-b accounts including AOL Inc., Deloitte, Dun & Bradstreet, Google Inc. and Hitachi.