Small shops deal with their own particular set of challenges in any given year, but the dystopian nightmare that is 2020 has increased those challenges exponentially. On August 3-5, Ad Age celebrated the 12th Annual Small Agency Conference and Awards, not just honoring the best work small shops—those with up to 150 employees—did in the past year, but providing a forum for the community to share best practices and potential solutions for getting through this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
The pandemic caused the conference and awards to be held virtually for the first time in its history. Perhaps even more notably, Amp members dominated this year's event, claiming more than half (23 out of 42) of the awards, including the top two spots for Small Agency of the Year: gold for Highdive and silver for Camp + King. Execs from Amp members were also well represented throughout the conference, appearing on a number of panel discussions, which delved into timely subjects and future-focused themes like the role of small agencies in an ever-changing ad landscape.
Here are some highlights from a very eventful 2020 Small Agency Conference and Awards for the Amp community, followed by a list of the Amp award winners:
What's next for small agencies in a post-pandemic/BLM future?
This year’s panel discussions touched on some of the most pressing subjects confronting agencies in the coronavirus era. In “Why Small Agencies Are the Future,” Greg Hahn, co-founder and chief creative officer at Mischief @ No Fixed Address, shared the backstory behind why, after being laid off from his post at BBDO at the outset of the pandemic, he decided to go small, and how it opened his eyes to the critical shift needed for agencies going forward. “The shakeup is stressful and jarring, as change often is, but it’s the change the industry needed—the change big agencies have been dreading—that requires speed, agility, flexibility,” explained Hahn. “Big agencies are simply not built for this, but you all are.”
Another panel—“Pandemic’s Over. Now What?”—supplied a much-needed dose of optimism: Omelet CEO Thas Naseemuddeen weighed in with her thoughts on what could be on the horizon once the storm has passed. “I think what we really can’t ignore is what this time has done for us in terms of introspection,” said Naseemuddeen. “We are having important conversations with clients and one another on social movements like Black Lives Matter that would not have happened—or would have happened in a really different way—if we didn’t have this moment in time. I think that will fundamentally change what our industry looks and feels like in the future, and that’s an incredible thing.”