Any agency that can persuade reserved Brits to shake their booties for the "Wimbledon Wiggle," and get 30,000 U.K. families to grow their own tomatoes, can justifiably describe itself as social.
London's We Are Social created the "Wiggle" (based on the hip-shaking movement made by tennis players when waiting to receive a serve) for client Evian, one of the sponsors of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and in doing so reached 90 million people and grabbed 70% of the sponsor mentions in social conversation around the two-week event.
The tomato-growing was for Heinz, to demonstrate the real fruit in its ketchup. We Are Social gave out free seeds, set up an online "tomato school," sent out branded gardening gifts to enthusiastic participants, and reached a third of the U.K. Facebook population.
Another We Are Social invention was the "Spoiler foiler" app for Netflix -- it blocks unwanted mentions of your favorite TV shows from your Twitter news feed -- which achieved an engagement rate of nearly five times the Twitter average.
The agency's revenue grew 52% to $14 million in 2013. Staff numbers were up 25% to 125. The biggest new business wins came from HSBC, Mondelez International and Beats By Dre, but the team also won projects for ten other brands, including Panasonic and Red Bull.
We Are Social London is one of two runners up to Ad Age's 2014 International Agency of the Year; the other is Colenso BBDO in New Zealand. This year's International Agency of the Year is Africa, a Brazilian agency based in Sao Paulo.
We Are Social was founded in London in 2008 by Robin Grant and Nathan McDonald, and also has offices in New York, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and Sao Paulo. The agency made big strides in 2013, including the launch of a paid media unit to help marketers negotiate the tricky and shifting paths between paid, owned and earned media.
The big finish in December 2013 was the $30 million sale of We Are Social to BlueFocus, a big Chinese PR group eager to expand both internationally and digitally.