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Agency A-List 2018

360i Is No. 8 on Ad Age's 2018 A-List

By Published on .

The 360i team (from l.): Thomas Meisner, Bryan Wiener, Amanda Abar, Sarah Hofstetter, Menno Kluin, Jared Belsky, Lee Maicon, Abbey Klaassen, Tiffany Francis and Patrick Affleck.
The 360i team (from l.): Thomas Meisner, Bryan Wiener, Amanda Abar, Sarah Hofstetter, Menno Kluin, Jared Belsky, Lee Maicon, Abbey Klaassen, Tiffany Francis and Patrick Affleck. Credit: Robyn Twomey for Ad Age

Sometimes digital marketing isn't about fancy ads or viral tweets. It's about making sure that when people look for a plumber, they can actually find one. This is the kind of digital dirty work 360i did for Roto-Rooter. Using proprietary tactics, the shop refined search-engine marketing methods to ensure its ads were shown only in areas where its plumbers were available. The solution led to cleaner pipes, of course, but also less ad waste and more revenue for Roto-Rooter as its technician use rates improved 10 percent.

That's the kind of bottom-line thinking that permeates the 925-person Dentsu-owned shop, which is coming off a stellar year fueled by eight new client wins and $25 million in new work from existing ones. All the while, 360i is well positioned for the future after adding capabilities in Amazon and voice-marketing consulting. The agency is also at the forefront of the rebundling trend, in which more clients are seeking a single media and creative solution rather than spreading work across multiple shops.

"Our mission is to help brands capitalize on change," says 360i CEO Sarah Hofstetter. Because if you aren't doing that, "then you are just making ads that may not necessarily be relevant."

The shop added a coveted car account to its roster after beating fellow A-Listers R/GA and Anomaly for Mini. It now handles digital, social media and customer relationship management for the BMW-owned brand. The agency also won new business from existing clients Coca-Cola Co., DSW and Jameson.

But 360i's growing relationship with Chili's Grill & Bar is the best indication of where the agency is headed. The casual-dining chain in September tapped the shop as its integrated media agency of record (for traditional and digital media), after the shop had previously handled only digital marketing. "They grew up digital, and it's a lot easier to buy the older-style media. What we really need is digital expertise," says Steve Provost, Chili's executive VP and chief marketing and innovation officer, explaining that the shop was qualified to handle both traditional and digital media. He says 360i beat out six other agencies for the integrated assignment.

Last year, 360i formed a dedicated Amazon Marketing practice led by Will Margaritis, a former e-commerce exec at L'Oréal who had previously worked at Amazon. The agency reports robust demand from clients seeking to learn where and how to spend their money to get noticed on Amazon and other e-commerce sites. "We can help clients navigate those decisions without them having to go to 19 different specialists," says 360i President Jared Belsky.

The agency has also upped its game on voice, helping clients deal with the rising role in marketing of virtual assistants. Its proprietary Voice Search Monitor reverse engineers algorithms used by Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple's Siri to help marketers better understand them.

The agency is even building its own voice-powered apps, like one for National Geographic called Bravo Tango Brain Training that guides military veterans through meditation and mindfulness exercises. The program was launched in conjunction with NatGeo's "The Long Road Home," a TV series chronicling the lives of service members through deployment and post-deployment. Jill Cress, chief marketing officer at National Geographic Partners, credited 360i with a "pretty brilliant suggestion on how we could actually do something that was purpose-driven and help us give something back to the veteran community."

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