"This is how we roll."
That's what five of 72andSunny's global leaders say–almost in unison–after pulling up chairs at the A-List photo shoot for an interview intended to be with just one of them. Perhaps it's that culture of collaboration and unanimity, which includes splitting ownership, that has helped the MDC Partners agency thrive.
Since its founding 14 years ago, the shop has mixed its partnership-of-equals mindset with liberal doses of its "Born Modern" philosophy of keeping up with change and not fearing disruption, says John Boiler, creative co-chair and founder of 72andSunny, who is wearing his signature fedora.
Boiler says the overall industry is going through a similar transformation, given that with the explosion of social media and digital, everyone is a creator. But that's not a bad thing, says CEO Matt Jarvis. "Every disruption presents an opportunity and disruption demands courage," says Jarvis, who is also a partner at the agency, which says it saw revenue grow about 11 percent last year.
Courage was in relatively short supply last year in the industry, given the political and social currents that led many agencies and clients to play it safe.
Not so at 72andSunny.
Last May, the agency began the "Only the Best for Everyone" campaign for Smirnoff, touting that the Russian vodka's No. 21 product is made in America. A month later, when President Trump said he would testify under oath regarding the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, 72andSunny put up a single billboard in New York City with a picture of a Smirnoff bottle and a Moscow Mule cocktail that read: "Made in America. But we'd be happy to talk about our ties to Russia under oath." The billboard went viral in 24 hours, garnering more than 1 billion impressions around the world.
The agency's work for Yoplait last year also stepped into the cultural conversation, taking on the concept of "mom-shaming" by creating a functional (and sarcastic) tip hotline for everyone who has opinions on how a mom should raise her kids. The hotline received more than 12,000 calls and generated 25 million media impressions, the agency says.
Last year, 72andSunny was named lead creative agency for L.A.'s 2024 Olympics bid and designed the logo, website and films, and produced VR tours and experiential events to promote the city as the ideal host for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic games.
Sedef Onar, chief talent officer and partner, says local work "energizes our people" and makes them proud. Another point of pride is the fact that 72andSunny was one of only two shops last year certified by the 3% Movement as creating inclusive cultures in which both men and women can thrive. Of the shop's 700-plus staffers, 55 percent are women, and 29 percent of creative executives are women.
For 2018, 72andSunny plans to prioritize its creativity and emphasize the right resources to help clients achieve their goals rather than focus on one particular discipline or capability. "It's about ideas, not assets," says Evin Shutt, chief operating officer and partner.
The agency isn't blind to ad industry challenges such as procurement, causing some marketers to drive down fees, but says it looks at those issues as opportunities to prove itself creatively and get some skin in the game with performance-based bonus models.
Glenn Cole, creative co-chair and founder, says the agency itself is the biggest source of its stress. "We put pressure on ourselves to constantly be valuable and relevant," he says, "and we put that pressure above other pressures."
Because, of course, that's how 72andSunny rolls.