Recognized as one of the most consistently creative agencies in San Francisco's highly competitive ad community, Muhtayzik Hoffer is a 35-person shop that saw a 30% revenue jump last year thanks to inventive work for clients such as HP, Gallo Spirits, the Golden State Warriors and Netflix. For the last, it won attention for, created and produced 57 videos within its first six months on the account.
Austin-based Proof Advertising earned the Silver Small Agency of the Year Award.
San Francisco-based Heat took home the Gold for Integrated Campaign of the Year for its marketing efforts for the Madden NFL 25 video game for EA Sports. The shop built excitement among an elusive demographic for the game franchise. Careful planning and clever creative execution helped sell nearly 2 million copies.
Deportivo, an agency in Stockholm, Sweden, won the Gold International Small Agency of the Year.
"We were pretty blown away by the incredible talent and powerful ideas coming out of the small agency community," said Abbey Klaassen, associate publisher-editorial and audience, Ad Age. "Their ambition and abilities make these kinds of firms highly attractive to clients seeking creative and agile partners as well as to potential acquirers. Perhaps it's not surprising, then, that between the time they entered to the time the winners were announced, two of our international agency honorees where snapped up by larger firms."
This year marked the addition of two new categories of interest to the small-agency community: Best Digital Campaign of the Year and Best B-to-B Campaign of the Year. The winners of those two awards, respectively, were "The Most Powerful Arm," a campaign created by Reactive for Save Our Sons, and "Are You Built For It?," a campaign for Caterpillar by Peoria, Illinois' Simantel.
Now in its sixth year, this awards show -- and the Small Agency Conference that preceded the celebration -- has become a staple for the agency community. It's the only event that is tailored especially to shops that are independent and have less than 150 employees. The event is held every July, after the glitz and glamour of the Cannes ad fest dies down. It travels to a different thriving ad community each time; in the past that has included Portland, Ore., Minneapolis, Denver and New Orleans.
The number of entrants has gradually grown but 2014 saw a major spike, with hundreds of shops across the U.S. and around the world entering the show. The West and Pacific Northwest regions saw a noteworthy increase in entries, signaling the ad market's maturity in markets beyond Madison Avenue.
There's little doubt that small and midsize shops are intent on giving their larger competitors a run for their money.
Said Ad Age Managing Editor Ken Wheaton: "I'm no longer surprised to see the number of huge clients popping up on the rosters of so many of these shops, whether it be project work or agency-of-record duties. And I'm not surprised at all by the quality of the marketing campaigns that small agencies are producing. I don't think their clients are, either. B-to-B, b-to-c, digital, pro bono, you name it, these guys have proved they deliver in a big way for brands."
The complete list of winners is detailed below. For more information about these agencies, be sure to look out for the July 28th issue of Ad Age, which will feature profiles on each of these talented shops.
SMALL AGENCY OF THE YEARGOLD: Muhtayzik | Hoffer, San Francisco
SILVER: Proof Advertising, Austin, Texas
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR -- INTEGRATED
SILVER: "The 4 to 9ers" for Subway, Content & Co., Los Angeles
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR -- DIGITALGOLD: "The Most Powerful Arm" for Save Our Sons, Reactive, Brooklyn, N.Y.
SILVER: "98 Days to Shine" for ESPNW, Concept Farm, New York
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR -- B-to-BGOLD: "Are You Built For It?" for Caterpillar, Simantel, Peoria, Ill.
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR -- PRO BONOGOLD: "The Children Not Work" for Advertisers Without Borders, Coupe Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
SILVER: "Zooglies" for Lincoln Children's Zoo, Bailey Lauerman, Omaha, Neb.
BEST AGENCY CULTUREGOLD: Roundhouse, Portland, Ore.
SILVER: Safari Sundays, New York
1-10 employeesGOLD: Odysseus Arms, San Francisco
SILVER: Good Solutions, Pasadena, Calif.
11-75 employeesGOLD: Tiny Rebellion, Santa Monica, Calif.
SILVER: Pitch, Culver City, Calif.
76-150 employeesGOLD: Brooklyn Brothers, New York
SILVER: Red Tettemer OConnell + Partners
NortheastGOLD: DiMassimo Goldstein, New York
SILVER: Concept Farm, New York
MidwestGOLD: Lindsay, Stone & Briggs, Madison, Wisc.
SILVER: The Distillery Project, Chicago
SoutheastGOLD: Bohan, Nashville, Tenn.
SILVER: iStrategyLabs, Washington D.C.
SouthwestGOLD: Nomadic Agency, Scottsdale, Ariz.
SILVER: nFusion, Austin, Texas
WestGOLD: A2G, Los Angeles
SILVER: Standard Time, Los Angeles
NorthwestGOLD: Swift, Portland, Ore.
SILVER: Creature, Seattle
InternationalGOLD: Deportivo, Stockholm, Sweden
TIE FOR SILVER
SILVER: +Castro, Buenos Aires, Argentina
SILVER: Volcano, Johannesburg, South Africa