Agency A-List 2015

72andSunny Is No. 5 on Ad Age's 2015 Agency A-List

Shop Posted a Whopping 52% Growth in Revenue; Headcount Rose 39% With Expansion in New York

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(From l.) John Boiler, Glen Cole, Matt Jarvis
(From l.) John Boiler, Glen Cole, Matt Jarvis

Not many agencies can boast a creative output successfully targeting frat boys, nerds and sentimentalists. Fewer can do it with innovation.

But 72andSunny can.

The MDC Partners shop took Carl's Jr.'s sophomoric schtick one step past bikini-clad women and bragged that its chicken sandwiches had the biggest breasts in fast food. It also took Google Street View technology and made maps of Venus, the Moon and Mars for the video game Destiny -- the first time anyone used Google Street View in that capacity. And it launched Starbucks' first-ever global campaign featuring a series of mini-documentaries that highlighted, for example, how a deaf woman felt isolated until she learned that a hearing-impaired group met at a local Starbucks.

The breadth of work is testament to the Los Angeles-based shop's creative and technology skills and why new and existing clients keep coming back for more. 72andSunny in 2014 posted a whopping 52% growth in revenue, 65% from existing clients. Headcount rose 39% as the agency expanded its footprint, opening up shop in New York.

And though 72andSunny is rather conservative with pitches, in 2014 it won the three it went after: the American Legacy Foundation's Truth anti-smoking effort; Tillamook cheese; and Samsung global work for the Galaxy phone. Organic growth came from clients like Google, which tapped 72andSunny for Fiber.

The shop emphasized talent in 2014, recruiting mid- and senior-level people and offering training programs for existing employees. "Growing the right people is the way to run this business," said 72andSunny co-founder and CEO John Boiler.

Much of the focus is on melding marketing and tech in innovative ways. The year, Mr. Boiler said, was spent "geeking out on new ways of storytelling. That's our mission. It's not like the old ways don't work, but you've got to expand."

Case in point: 72andSunny's campaign for Google, which wanted users to stop using their browsers and start using its app for search. VP-Google Brand Marketing Jeff Whipps said the way the shop helped "weave our story and the promise of the app into the urban fabric of New York was incredibly cool. Connecting brand, product experience and culture is something 72andSunny does exceptionally well."

The campaign began with TV and digital ads promoting the app's voice function, asking the app random questions, such as how many hours in a day a koala bear sleeps, and getting an answer.72andSunny then added an outdoor campaign in New York, bringing on local businesses so that Google could post questions -- some painted on the walls of the business, some on neon signs, some on coffee mugs -- specific to each business (for example, a wine shop asked how many grapes in a bottle of wine).

The agency also bought ads on The New York Times website, posting new questions each minute related to the headlines as they changed throughout the day. A social-media campaign with the hashtag #OKGoogle was dispatched, encouraging users to ask the app questions. Even the backstop for the World Series displayed rotating Google questions.

"We were aiming for invention and creativity in every form of media," said Mr. Whipps. "It's interesting to think about a brand like Google playing in the outdoor category and playing with innovation." He declined to provide metrics on the campaign, but he noted that all of Google's expectations were "well-surpassed."

Next 72andSunny will place an emphasis on Brand Citizenship, a capability launching this year. Mr. Boiler describes it as an industry-leading innovation with the goal of finding opportunities for clients where corporate social responsibility makes sense. The offering isn't just philanthropy for the sake of philanthropy, he said, noting that companies need to incorporate social responsibility into their DNA in order to build loyalty these days. Brand Citizenship will be run by former Surfrider Foundation CEO Jim Moriarty.

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