Small Agency Awards 2012

International Small Agency of the Year, Gold: Akestam Holst

Taking Chances on Ideas While Focusing on Results Pays Off For Indie

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Not many agencies would suggest that a client swallow a mini hi-fi system in the name of publicity, but Swedish independent Akestam Holst is not afraid of taking risks. And neither are the kind of marketers drawn to the agency -- the CEO of electronics retailer Pause insisted on going ahead with the hi-fi stunt, even though doctors advised against it.

Blind vs. sighted football match for Pepsi.
The mini hi-fi was operated via Wi-Fi, creating a human jukebox that people could program to play the song of their choice. For the same client, Akestam Holst rebuilt a Pause store as the set of a heist movie, inviting people to crack the security system and plan a heist online: The closer they got to the target , the bigger the discount they won.

Akestam Holst, founded in 1998, has around 90 staff, mostly Swedes and Northern Europeans. The agency's philosophy revolves around being uncomplicated, keeping promises and focusing on results.

"We wanted to combine the world's best ads with the world's best working place," said Andreas Ullenius, executive creative director and partner. "It's a kind climate, where we use our collective force to come up with ideas."

For Pepsi, the shop set up a football match between blind and sighted players using technology that enhanced sound and therefore helped blind people to play. In a campaign for bus service Swebus, Akestam Holst invited people to bet on train delays, with winners receiving a prize of tokens for bus journeys.

Clients also include Audi, Ikea and Carlsberg. Most of the agency's work is for the Swedish market. It handled Puma's global football account for three years, but Mr. Ullenius said he prefers project-based work for international clients, as the Puma business "nearly broke the agency."