Small Agency of the Year, 76-150 Employees, Gold: David & Goliath

With Gutsy Spots for Kia, Universal Studios and Carl's Jr. Under Its Belt, Risk-taking Shop Warns It's 'Just Getting Started'

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David Angelo is a huge sports fan, which pretty much explains the metaphors he uses when talking about building the right team and creating chemistry in his El Segundo, Calif.-based ad agency, David & Goliath.

David & Goliath staff
David & Goliath staff

"I always use sports analogies," said the founder and chief creative officer of the 146-person agency. "One of the things I notice about sports is : No one is an island. Take baseball. You need nine players that are all sort of gelling together and contributing to the greater whole. ... When you have the right players on the bus and the right timing and the right situation, that 's when you have something truly amazing."

David & Goliath did phenomenal work in the last year for clients such as Kia Motors, Universal Studios Hollywood, Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Hardees and Carl's Jr., among others.

Its most recognizable work may have been the Super Bowl spots it did for Kia, but its most visible work was for Universal Studios. Literally. After a fire burned down the original King Kong attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, the market and agency were faced with relaunching the attraction amid a still-struggling economy and a local California populace that 's pretty much seen it all.

One Epic Ride for Kia
One Epic Ride for Kia

So while the theme park's engineers created a bigger-than-life King Kong attraction, David & Goliath created a bigger-than-life guerrilla marketing campaign. It fashioned giant King Kong footprints 2-feet deep on the beach at Santa Monica, Calif., all leading toward the ocean and an overturned vehicle spewing smoke. Other similar wrecked vehicles were found all over the greater L.A. area, and the giant footprints were even found at Dodger Stadium.

The various stunts not only drew the attention of the local media, but garnered TV coverage on 62 stations across the country. As a result, Universal Studios Hollywood surpassed 5 million guests in 2010, the single largest attendance at the park since 1996. Summer attendance in 2010 saw an increase of 27% over 2009, while Disneyland attendance decreased by 4% during the same summer time period last year.

Hardees Miss Turkey poster
Hardees Miss Turkey poster

David & Goliath had similar success with a campaign for the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas. The resort suffered from the classic Vegas "dorm effect" -- patrons slept at the hotel, but spent their money elsewhere. D&G came up with an online campaign that positioned the Monte Carlo as "unpretentiously luxurious."

The upshot? A 137% jump in monthly website traffic, a 22 .8% increase in bookings through the website, a 113% increase in dining reservations through the website and a 20.5% increase in on-property revenue.

"I believe that our growth and our work has been a result of defining what we stand for and living it 24-7," Mr. Angelo said.

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