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Agency A-List 2018

Ad Age's 2018 Agencies to Watch

Published on .

We've got our eye on these 10 and you should, too.

BBDO

A lot of eyes are on BBDO, which made our A-List last year, but has seen a drip-drip of account reviews from significant clients Lowe's and Campbell Soup Co. Last year also saw Omnicom Group sibling Goodby Silverstein & Partners win brand Pepsi in a holding company review. But BBDO won Macy's and Lay's for the New York office and additional work from the likes of HP, and delivered outstanding creative. This included Procter & Gamble's "The Talk," in which black parents have frank discussions with their children about race in America, and a campaign for GE that turned the ceiling of New York's Grand Central Terminal into constellations depicting female scientists. Moreover, the agency delivered on a promise to double the number of senior female creative leaders over 12 months. —Alexandra Jardine

DDB

Internally, DDB calls its mission to restore itself to its onetime glory "The Resurgence of an Icon." The agency is making good on this promise, delivering six consecutive quarters of top-line revenue and profit growth, it says, and winning 18 clients in 2017, including Miller Lite and Symantec. Strong work for McDonald's included bringing back Szechuan Sauce after cult cartoon "Rick and Morty" referenced the legendary late-'90s condiment. —A.J.

Edelman

PR giant Edelman has been turning heads recently with a paid-media practice that it says grew 150 percent last year compared with 2016. The shop now counts Sears, Olive Garden, Legacy
.com and others among its media clients. That's on top of the shop's main client roster, which touts the likes of Samsung, Starbucks and United Airlines, enabling Edelman to creep toward $1 billion in annual revenue after hitting $874.1 million globally for 2017. —Lindsay Stein

Essence

GroupM threw some fuel on Essence in June when WPP's media network announced it would invest more heavily in the media agency it acquired in 2015. Essence took over work for clients including Target's Team Arrow, which previously sat under GroupM, and NBC Universal, which had been handled by holding company sibling Maxus. GroupM Global CEO Kelly Clark said the holding company was "doubling down on Essence as a growth engine for GroupM and WPP," and that Essence will be tasked with figuring out how to better measure traditional media using data and insights—a signal we're likely to be seeing lots more from the agency in 2018. —Megan Graham

FCB

After merging with Draft in 2006, FCB admits it had a beleaguered rep in the industry—lacking in creative ideas and executions. And the agency saw tough times in 2011 when it lost SC Johnson. But the past few years have seen a creative resurgence and big brand-building ideas. FCB expanded its capabilities in retail design and experience with the acquisition of Chute Gerdeman and is building out an AI practice in Chicago. New assignments included retail agency-of-record work for Bud Light and an agency-of-record win for Clorox's Renew Life. Fresh talent, including Jennifer Hohman as the shop's new global CMO, hint at even bigger things ahead. —M.G.

Giant Spoon

Last year roared and howled for Giant Spoon, the four-year-old agency that won four Cannes Lions for a campaign about a wolf. The shop, with offices in Los Angeles and New York, attracted new clients including Paramount Pictures, MassMutual, Uber and Warner Bros., which helped grow annual revenue to $14.5 million, triple that of 2015. Meanwhile, campaigns with existing accounts, such as a digital series for HP starring a "Mr. Robot"-ready Christian Slater as a printer hacker named the Wolf, have garnered creative acclaim for the fast-growing agency. —Adrianne Pasquarelli

Joan

In a little over a year since its founding by former Wieden & Kennedy Executive Creative Director Jaime Robinson and Refinery29 Chief Operating Officer Lisa Clunie, Joan Creative is on a tear, tripling revenue, it says, to a projected $10 million to $15 million for 2017. Named in homage to some of history's most famous women, Joan is winning new business from the likes of Amazon and YouTube, and in November launched its own publishing brand, Damn Joan. —A.J.

McGarryBowen

When American Express wanted consumers to understand that it is more than just a credit card company, it turned to McGarryBowen, hiring the New York-based shop as its lead creative agency last year. The win, alongside new business from Planters, Burt's Bees and Subway, plus assignments from longtime clients Crayola and Kraft Heinz, helped increase the Dentsu Aegis-owned agency's revenue to $158 million last year, up 5 percent from 2016, it says. Yet the recent loss of JC Penney, an account that helped foster McGarry's reputation as a comeback kid, leaves the agency short a major retailer. —A.P.

O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul

Tiffany Haddish may have had the last laugh in Groupon's Super Bowl ad this year, but the agency behind the work also has plenty to smile about. O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul clocked $14.2 million in revenue last year, up $4.2 million from the year before and nearly double that of 2015. The Chicago-based indie agency was Ad Age's 2015 Small Agency of the Year, but now with wins like Chili's, for which it brought back its "Baby Back" jingle, and an acquisition of digital shop Juice Interactive, OKRP is ready for the big time. —Brian Braiker

Rokkan

Known for its digital chops, Rokkan started making a name for itself as a full-service agency in 2017, including for its largest client, Cadillac, and connected-car technology Hum by Verizon. But the Publicis Groupe agency didn't forget its digital heritage, helping Hallmark create buzz with a video of YouTube footage that showcased memorable moments between people. This year, the agency will launch a new brand for Hilton, reboot Coca-Cola's Fresca brand and kick off a campaign for Mello Yello. —L.S.

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