The roster of AKQA reads like a dream. There's Nike, Xbox, Visa and MSN. Then, last year it added global digital assignments from McDonald's, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Coca-Cola. Oh, and there was work for Target, Gucci Group and Dell. With new offices in Shanghai, AKQA is recruiting widely. Watch to see whether AKQA can evolve into a full-service agency or lands a suitor with a lucrative offer.
The partnership of N.Y. office Co-Presidents Rosemarie Ryan and Ty Montague began to bear fruit in 2006. Mr. Montague produced strong work for JetBlue and Ford. More generally, the agency seems to be popping with ideas and potential. Wish we could say the same for the rest of the JWT network, which has struggled with key clients-Unilever and Vodafone-and in important locales like London.
Oft-overlooked during the small-agency renaissance, Boston shop Modernista has racked up important business wins-GM's Cadillac, for instance-at the expense of the giants. The quiet success of Chief Creative Officer Lance Jensen & Co. shows you don't need a siege PR strategy or an amphibian name to outflank the big guys. Hilarious work to soften Hummer's image is must-see campaign.
Interpublic Group of Cos.' newest concoction shocked the ad world by winning Wal-Mart Stores' $580 million business in October, and DraftFCB then shocked again last month when it got dumped in the Julie Roehm debacle. This marriage of creative and data expertise is a siren's call for marketers. Howard Draft will have to ensure the Roehm-induced hangover doesn't linger.
180 Amsterdam operated happily as a cool independent until November, when it won, with BBDO Worldwide, Sony Consumer Electronics' $50 million U.S. account. Sony wasn't done with 180. In December, it asked the agency to create a single, powerful idea that will be used globally to invigorate the Sony brand. Immediately after 180 won the Sony business, it sold a stake to BBDO parent Omnicom Group.
Call it Swedish sensibility, but 3-year-old Mother believes in slow growth. The N.Y. agency, whose older sibling is in London, is churning out consumer engagement with campaigns that include the teen-empowering "Parental Enlightenment Kit" for Virgin Mobile. Expect to see Swede creative directors Linus Karlsson and Paul Malmstrom with big, pearly-white smiles on their faces in 2007-and beyond.
Fast-growing, superbly creative Grupo Gallegos gets results for marketers seeking change. That doesn't include Wal-Mart Stores, however; the Hispanic agency pulled out of the biggest multicultural review of the year and quickly went to work for Target Stores. Gallegos won Best of Show at Advertising Age's Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards last September with a spot for Energizer.
PR giant Edelman messed up big time when its fake blogs for Wal-Mart were outed last fall. Otherwise, 2006 was another big year. Rick Murray and Steve Rubel (also an Ad Age columnist) have kept Edelman at the forefront of blogs and other consumer-empowering channels. Brands such as Unilever's Dove, Microsoft Corp.'s Vista and Wal-Mart Stores all hinge on Edelman's counsel.
Indeed the weather's been perfect for this Los Angeles agency playing with both traditional media and new ways to work. 72andSunny won a new Quiksilver apparel line, re-presented the classic "Star Trek" TV series with a new online game and was named agency for Microsoft's iPod competitor Zune. Look for the shop to move into the world of consumer package goods in 2007.
Deutsch rebounded after a crummy 2005, largely due to good relationships with ex-clients. Ikea and DirecTV returned; General Motors assigned more business. The agency needs to redefine its marketplace positioning. "We've always been an agency with a story," says Val DiFebo, president, Deutsch New York. "Now is the time to be more vocal." Will Deutsch's message catch on?