Agency A-List 2018

Ad Age's 2018 A-List Standouts

Published on .

These sharp shops get kudos for amazing work and business prowess.

Bullish

Bullish puts its money where its mouth is. The three-year-old shop, owned by Deutsch veterans Mike Duda and Brent Vartan, works on a pay-for-performance compensation model, so it can earn key performance indicator-based bonuses from some clients and return on equity from others. When not investing in the likes of Warby Parker and MatchaBar, it got work for Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and others. And it turned heads when it dropped GNC to invest $250,000 in vitamin supplement startup Care/of. —Lindsay Stein

CP&B

By its own admission, 2017 was a "complex" year, as the shop closed its maiden office in Miami and bid goodbye to CEO Lori Senecal. But there's fresh juice from Chief Creative Officer Linus Karlsson and global CEO Erik Sollenberg, who came from hot shop Forsman & Bodenfors. There were home runs for Jose Cuervo with the bold "Tomorrow Is Overrated" campaign; the hilarious "Swear Like a Mother" for Kraft Mac & Cheese; a twist for Domino's with a wedding registry; and literal sweat "suits" for Fruit of the Loom. —Judann Pollack

Figliulo & Partners

Figliulo & Partners grew up and branched out in 2017. The 67-person New York agency brought in veteran creative Scott Vitrone as its new chief creative officer, introduced a media and buying offering, and acquired digital shop Hungry. The agency reported a revenue jump from $9.5 million in 2016 to $17.9 million last year, and said it won 75 percent of its 2017 new business pitches, including AOR duties for Vanity Fair napkins. A CNN assignment led to "Facts First" that included "This Is an Apple," an ad with an apple that said don't believe it's otherwise, regardless of what people tell you.

The agency also delivered standout work for Virgin Atlantic, including a campaign that saw the "Bright Side of Brexit" and the disturbingly sweet "Prodigal Brother" to promote its tie-up with Delta. —Ann-Christine Diaz

Momentum

The experiential agency added 16 clients to its roster in 2017 and now manages over $3 billion in sponsorship assets for American Express, Verizon and SAP. Some of its new 2017 accounts include Chevron, Aetna, Fresh Direct, Kraft Heinz, Anthem and Variety. During last year's U.S. Open, Momentum introduced a multisensory 4-D air-tennis game for American Express that had more than 20,100 participants—a 166 percent increase versus the brand's 2016 experience, the agency reports. —L.S.

Preacher

Not quite four years old, the small, Austin, Texas-based Preacher has mighty big chops. In 2017, the 45-person shop added dating app Bumble, which lets women make the first move; "pasture-raised eggs" brand Vital Farms; and Detroit luxury-goods purveyor Shinola. Work for its four Beam Suntory whiskey clients included stories run across platforms for Knob Creek's "This Creek Runs Full" campaign, which helped lead the brand to consecutive months of double-digit growth, the agency says. Kevin Hart starred in Preacher's content series for Tommy John. And Preacher gave Crate & Barrel personality by putting faces to wedding registries, and used Reese Witherspoon's type-A persona to promote C&B's partnership with her brand, Draper James. —A.C.D.

Starcom

Starcom USA had banner wins in 2017, clinching pitches for Lowe's, Lionsgate and others, for a total of nearly $1.5 billion in new billings. Starcom says its new-business conversion rate topped 92 percent in 2017, up from 61 percent in 2016. And the work was impactful: In 2017, it was part of Airbnb's first Super Bowl commercial, a peg of its "#WeAccept" initiative that focused on inclusion in the wake of President Trump's announcement of travel restrictions against some Muslim-majority countries. Traffic to Airbnb's website doubled when the spot aired, the agency says, and overnight more than 4,600 volunteers signed up to host people in need of housing. —Megan Graham

TBWA

Taylor Swift "It Was You" message for the Grammys, the launch of Apple's Instagram page, Gatorade's "Make Defeat Your Fuel" campaign—TBWA's work reflected the culture and helped push conversation in 2017. The agency waved goodbye to Airbnb and Persil, but welcomed clients such as Hilton, Uniqlo, 7Up, Kind bars, Intuit and Quickbooks, MoviePass and Eos. The Omnicom shop also picked up assignments from the likes of Belvedere vodka, NBC Universal and NPR. —L.S.

Translation

In a moment when agencies are talking about rebundling—bringing strategic, creative and media chops back under the same roof—Translation went further and launched its own full-service record label, UnitedMasters. It's not so far-fetched: Founder Steve Stoute got his start (and still has deep roots) in the music business. With annual revenue of $36.4 million, up from $33.1 million, Translation's cultural fluency did overtime this year, picking up new clients in HBO, Weight Watchers, Marriott and Beats by Dre. —Brian Braiker

Weber Shandwick

After nearly double digit growth in the last two years, Weber Shandwick slowed down some in 2017, but still brought on new clients Ancestry.com, Los Angeles' Olympics bid, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and more. The shop also showed it's got both head and heart with two standout efforts: For Royal Caribbean, it rerouted an actual ship toward the path of the solar eclipse and put singer Bonnie Tyler aboard to sing "Total Eclipse of the Heart"; for Excedrin, it recreated in 360-degree video what a migraine feels like to help build empathy for sufferers. —J.P.

Work & Co

While most companies focus on the message, five-year-old Work & Co focuses strictly on digital "products," with 100 percent of its revenue coming from creating retail experiences, apps, websites, chatbots and more for a client list that includes Apple, Facebook, Google, Amex, Planned Parenthood, Marriott and Philz Coffee. The company was behind Apple's major retail push, "Today at Apple," led the e-commerce debut of LVMH-owned Céline and will launch a new driver product experience for Lyft in 2018. Revenue jumped 26 percent in 2017 to $49.5 million from $39 million the previous year, it says. The Brooklyn-based privately held company has a partnership model that ensures all key leadership—whether they're developers, strategists or designers—is available to work hand in hand with clients. —A.C.D.

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