Agency A-List 2015

Rosetta Is No. 9 on Ad Age's 2015 Agency A-List

Accomplished Strong Gains by Ripping Up Agency, Putting It Back Together

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(From l.) Eric Healy, Drew Kurth, Tammy Soares, Scott Sorokin and, seated, Tom Adamski
(From l.) Eric Healy, Drew Kurth, Tammy Soares, Scott Sorokin and, seated, Tom Adamski Credit: Photography by Stephanie Diani/AP Images for Ad Age

Before Tom Adamski took over as CEO for Rosetta, the digital agency was averaging a 3% annual revenue increase. Last year, it jumped 8%.

Revenue from Rosetta's top 10 clients did far better than that, soaring 30% to 40%. The agency's margins rose three percentage points and clients like Samsung, Kraft, Aetna, Nest and Uniqlo parent Fast Retailing joined its portfolio.

Rosetta accomplished this feat by ripping up the agency and putting it back together. "We took the brand away from its core roots as only a consultancy and [a shop] in the health-care space, and aligned consulting and intelligence capabilities with technology and platform enablement," said Mr. Adamski, who joined the shop in April 2013.

Mr. Adamski copied the model he had implemented at his former shop Level. He centralized Rosetta's resource-planning capability and linked previously separate functions such as account management and business development. He also revamped the leadership team with 20 new senior executives to support Rosetta's goal of expanding existing business by selling broader customer-engagement programs.

"Last year was the year where a lot of that strategy and work that had been done kind of came to fruition," he said.

Mr. Adamski was CEO of longstanding Apple agency Level when Rosetta acquired it in 2010. Publicis Groupe later acquired Rosetta and elevated Mr. Adamski to CEO. More recently, he was named CEO of a new Razorfish Global network of agencies, which houses Razorfish, Rosetta and a newly spun-off agency called Level to service Apple.

Clients are now flocking to Mr. Adamski's new team, structure and customer-engagement approach.
"What started as digital support from Rosetta quickly evolved to a full-service partnership across multiple business areas, and much of that evolution was due to Rosetta's consumer insights," said Todd Pendleton, CMO for Samsung Telecommunications America. "Rosetta has a deep understanding of the Samsung customer. Their customer-intelligence capabilities give them an ability to deliver innovative and world-class experiences."

Rosetta won Samsung's digital business in 2014 after pitching with a larger Publicis team and is now helping Samsung connect directly with device owners. The shop also fields work across digital for the tech company, including video that lives on and retail experiences.

In 2014, e-commerce and content were the two fastest-growing parts of Rosetta's business.

Supporting that growth was a technology the shop built to connect Adobe and IBM systems to get different web functions -- e-commerce and content, for instance -- to work together. The shop used this tool to build a new "content-rich" e-commerce platform for a fashion client, for example.

Demand for content from Rosetta's 35-person animation and production studio in its San Luis Obispo, Calif., headquarters was also up significantly this past year. That content spanned formats such as mobile apps, TV ads and educational materials for health-care sites, the agency said.

For Activision's Call of Duty, Rosetta was tasked with managing data inputs from more than 40 million gamers. After defining profiles of various players and pinpointing their motivations, the shop built a predictive model to determine when a gamer was reaching fatigue and would send a targeted message to keep him or her engaged. In some cases, the messages would come through video content meant to drive micro-transactions within a game. As a result, the company saw a 15% increase in gamer retention and a 170% increase in revenue from existing customers, the shop said.

For other clients, like Timberland, the shop lead a data and analytics exercise that helped shape not only digital content but also actual products, the agency said. With the insights, the company redefined its core customer and product to be less hardcore outdoor enthusiast and more lifestyle-oriented, which ultimately boosted flat revenues and revamped the brand's image.

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