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2004 Rating: 5 stars

The essence: Draft had a great 2004 as marketers shifted more dollars to direct response. The Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency won more than a dozen new clients and deepened relationships with existing partners; it hired scores of people to keep up with the demand. Signature programs included a MilkPEP (Milk Processors Education Program) promotion touting milk's diet benefits and a U.S. Postal Service effort that sent holiday mailing instructions to every address in the country. As below-the-line becomes top of mind for more marketers, Draft is poised to take a bigger piece of budgets and direction.

Net Growth: New-business wins in 2004 included American Century Investments, and Deere & Co.'s John Deere. It also became the promotion agency for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pringles and Folgers. Draft expanded its relationship with Bank of America with general advertising work, and at yearend became the lead agency for Computer Associates, taking the business from WPP Group's Y&R.

management: CEO Howard Draft and other executives worked to strengthen the creative product and deepen understanding of new media. It formed a "Conceptors" group to think of big ideas for its clients. It also created the Draft Retail Lab, a space that can be reconfigured into different retail-space floor plans.

Creative quality and effectiveness: Some direct TV work, including for Verizon, showed a better sense of humor than the norm. Working with the U.S. Postal Service, it created the Post Office Channel, a combination of broadcast content and Internet that runs on screens in post offices.