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Ad Age's annual Small Agency Awards contest is now open, and independent shops anywhere in the world with 150 or fewer employees are invited to enter.
The goal of these awards -- now in their sixth year -- is to ensure that the smart thinking and innovative brand ideas produced by smaller shops are getting their due. We've observed that all too often this community's work isn't being surfaced in the big awards shows.
The best part? Winning a Small Agency Award can help under-appreciated shops get noticed in a major way.
After Ad Age named its first-ever Small Agency Award winner in 2009, that agency, Rockfish, was snapped up by WPP in short order. For Pereira & O'Dell, which won in 2010, it helped propel the agency to win three Grand Prix awards in Cannes in 2013.
Past international winners have come from all over the world. Bruketa & Zinc, based in Croatia, was awarded for consistently delivering fresh brand ideas on a diverse set of platforms, including a client's annual report, whose pages literally glow when warmed by human touch. Another winner, Swedish agency Akestam Holst, created innovative campaigns for Pepsi and suggested to one client that he swallow a mini hi-fi system in the name of publicity (against medical advice, the intrepid CEO of electronics retailer Pause did so). Other winners include Canada's Hot Tamali and Buzzman Paris.
"We launched the Ad Age Small Agency Awards not only to honor excellent marketing-services firms with 150 employees or fewer, but also as a service to marketers," said Abbey Klaassen, Associate Publisher-Editorial & Audience at Advertising Age. "These are the kind of shops more and more clients are seeking today. In a world of increasing consolidation, marketers still want agencies that are quick, nimble and innovative, and our mission is to highlight them."
To keep the show accessible, all entry fees are under $300. The deadline for entry is April 9. Submit here. We've also greatly simplified the entry process this year.
As in years past, we'll award gold and silver for an Agency of the Year -- Overall; Campaign of the Year -- Integrated; Campaign of the Year -- Pro-Bono; and Best Agency Culture. We'll also award winners in three size categories for Agency of the Year, plus regional winners (Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, West, Northwest and Northeast) and international winners.
For 2014, Ad Age is launching two new entry categories, a Digital Campaign of the Year award, and a B-to-B award. Agencies outside the U.S. can enter individual categories, like the new Digital and B-to-B awards, or the international category. Ad Age, as part of its mission to highlight more agencies outside of the U.S., plans to choose a collection of international winners based on the quality of entries, that may be, but not limited to, shops with 1-10, 11-75, and 76-150 employees.
The contest is open to independent agencies with staff of 150 people or less. Ad Age defines an independent agency as one that is at least 51% locally-owned. For questions about eligibility, head to our handy FAQ page on the Small Agency Awards site.
"The Small Agency Awards gives agencies a chance to showcase their work and helps illustrate for marketers what small, independent shops are capable of," said Ken Wheaton, managing editor at Ad Age. Over the past few years, we've seen some shops grow too big for the awards show; we've seen others fiercely hold on to the 'small' in small agency. Either way, it's definitely an awards show that marketers are paying attention to."
Winners are announced in July at Ad Age's Small Agency Conference and Awards Show, an annual event which travels to vibrant ad markets around the country. In the past we've held the two-day confab in cities such as Portland, New Orleans, Denver and Minneapolis. For 2014, we're headed to the home of barbecue and awesome music: Austin, Texas. The event will be held July 23 and 24.
Again, the entry deadline for awards is April 9, 2014. For complete details on how to enter and to register for the conference, head here.