Agencies -- and the marketing landscape -- never stop evolving. From well-established firms hitting a new stride or carving out different disciplines to up-and-comers offering digital-world solutions, here are 10 shops to have on your radar in 2014.1. McCann, New York
In its first year under CEO Harris Diamond, it added more than $30 million in revenue, winning U.S.P.S., Lockheed Martin, Jose Cuervo and The American Frozen Food Institute. Oh yeah, and Chevrolet. As it reshuffles its creative leaders, this is the top shop to watch in 2014.
Thanks to the outsize personality of founder Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia shot onto the scene in 2013, handling social projects for an impressive array of marketers including PepsiCo, General Electric, Mondelez, Unilever, Budweiser and Hasbro. The agency saw 57% growth of $22.5 million in net revenue. One of its best campaigns got people talking about old-school board game Monopoly again; the agency cast a worldwide vote to sacrifice an old token and introduce a new one, leading to a kitty cat replacing the iron.
The largest and longest established in their industries aren't always the most progressive. But Edelman, the largest PR agency in the world, continues to dabble in capabilities outside its comfort zone. In 2013, the shop officially launched its newsroom offering, complete with dedicated offices and staff across the country, hired senior-level agency executives, including Vivaki's Chris Paul to round out its digital offeringn and the firm's senior officers began investigating new areas like talent management. Edelman ended its fiscal year (the 12 months ended in September) with $716 million in global revenue and 11.5% growth.
4. SteinIAS, New York
The merger of New York's Stein & Partners Brand Activation and London's IAS b2b Marketing is indicative of the global ambitions of independent b-to-b shops. SteinIAS has won AOR accounts including American Water Resources, Columbia University Planned Giving, Pinstripe, Savvis/Century Link and Vree Health and b-to-b revenue climbed 11% to $13.5 million. Watch for more growth in 2014.
In 2012 Publicis Groupe's BBH faced layoffs and lost its footing amid a wave of management changes. But when it stole the Sony Playstation account from Deutsch last February, it was a sign that the shop, under new chief creative John Patroulis, was making a turnaround. Then, in October Newell Rubbermaid consolidated all advertising with the agency, cementing it as one to watch on the new-business circuit in 2014.
Possible is the product of a digital agency mashup within WPP, and at the helm is a CEO who owned an analytics firm. Sounds like a recipe for disaster but Possible's Shane Atchison might have been just the ticket to lead the shop in a three-year search for identity. He's steered the agency toward double-digit growth in 2013 and launched ventures like Amazon practice group, which, among other endeavors has led to a handful of new-business prospects, he said.
7. Sparks & Honey, New York
This Omnicom-backed "newsroom"-oriented agency starts each morning with a cultural briefing for clients such as Hyatt, Jarden and Life is Good, for whom it developed six "culture-to-commerce" T-shirts. In 2013 it grew from two to 17 clients and quadrupled its staff to 20.
What started out in 2008 as a largely promotional shop in Culver City, Calif. has grown into an integrated agency that boasts a 43% revenue increase n 2013, a 50% increase in clients and an employee count rise to 47 from 27. It's been a longtime Burger King shop, but it added more general market and global duties to its account last year, along with other 2013 wins such as Pinkberry and Maaco.
9. Code and Theory
This summer, The Verge covered the launch of Comcast;s cloud-connected entertainment platform, X2. It was the first time Code and Theory, a 12-year-old independent digital shop, could say it created both the physical X2 product and the Verge's website.The shop, best known for website design work, is one of the few indies that successfully expanded its scope to cover many aspects of digital marketing and branding. In 2013, the shop supported the Comcast project: a Mashable redesign; content for Maybelline and broad digital tasks for Dr Pepper and Snapple and others. If its 50% increase in revenue is any indication, it;s on the right track moving into 2014.
For Dentsu's Firstborn, 2013 was a year of record growth -- 50% in revenue with new retainer duties for brands like L'Oreal Luxe products and Mtn Dew -- and expansion beyond its digital roots. The shop snagged lead global agency duties for Japan's All Nippon Airways, with a scope spanning social, digital and a TV campaign slated for 2014. It also doubled the size of its content studio and continued to grow its expertise in areas like digital loyalty and rewards programs.
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