Anomaly

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Anomaly turned heads (including ours—the shop was featured on the cover of Creativity in May '05) when it launched in late 2004 and immediately snagged Dasani, a juicy bit of Coca-Cola business. Part of a gaggle of startups that injected new energy into the New York creative scene, the shop boasted a multi-discipline dream management team—the founding partners included former TBWA COO Carl Johnson, media strategist Justin Barocas, brand design vets Jason DeLand and Andrew Kibble—and a confident attitude about what that team could do for marketers beyond making ads.

Four years later, the shop continues to get attention, though not in the customary way. The agency isn't exactly a fixture on the awards circuit; it's focused its efforts instead on creating multi-level, pan-discipline relationships with marketers, on building brands way beyond ads and creating new, idea-centric compensation models. Post launch, Anomaly added innovation chief Johnny Vulkan and CFO Sal LaGreca and has since grown to 70 people. Last year Mike Byrne, former CD at Wieden + Kennedy, assumed the role of chief creative officer following the departure of founding creative partner Ernest Lupinacci.

What they did right—The Work
The Dasani account famously came to the agency for design work and stayed for the advertising. Subsequently, Anomaly created a fully integrated campaign (including bottle design) for Coke's Gold Leaf iced tea and launched Coke brand Enviga, billed as the world's first calorie-burning tea.

The agency scored another eye popping win in November with Virgin America and is spearheading everything from seat cushions and safety cards to in-flight entertainment for the carrier. The shop is also doing deals with partners like designer Jonathan Adler and Burton for Virgin-branded travel products. Oh, and advertising, of course.

For Aliph headsets (the famed Jawbone headset was designed by Yves Behar, who is now Aliph's creative director), the agency, says Johnson, is "defining a positioning for them that will work with the product pipeline for the next few years—a pipeline that as partners we have an influence on."

What they did right—The Way
Launched with a commitment to an idea first, multi-disciplinary approach and a broad range of talent. Says Johnson: "We've only pitched once in two years and have grown from five to almost 70. It would not have been possible without the diversity of creative talent. We can hand on heart sit in a room with a client and have a conversation about their business that has no vested interest in which medium we end up executing in." Since launch the agency has added people in the structural design, events and PR areas, "and we've not stopped looking."

Focused on re-inventing agency compensation.
"As owners of the business, we're entrepreneurial by nature and work on the basis that effort should result in reward," Johnson says. "We are firm in how we negotiate and we are not afraid to ask for a lot when we believe we can create a lot of value for our clients. Because we have proved that we have no secondary agenda to our client's business success we have been allowed to create deals that reward us with a mix of ownership, revenue as well as fees."

In lieu of a fee for Aliph work, the agency has a small equity stake in the company and a cut of sales; in the case of Virgin, Anomaly has negotiated a percentage of in-flight sales. The agency has also stayed true to its entrepeneurial principles with the creation of standalone company ShopText, which allows consumers to purchase products via text (deals have been done with P&G, Conde Nast and others) and allows the agency to realize revenue beyond fees for service. Which means the shop is still an anomaly in the ad world.
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