Special Report: Agency A-List
Ad Age Agency A-List Standouts
These 10 Hot Shops Delivered Some of the Best Work of the Year to Several of America's Top Brands
1. GOTHAMAd Age's No. 1 agency to watch last year, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Gotham, didn't disappoint in 2010. Under CEO Peter McGuinness and creative talent Marty Orzio, the shop pitched and won a fair share of business, with an impressive 70% win ratio. Most notably it picked up brand and retail business for Denny's; booked a range of other brands such as Chobani yogurt, Goody hair-care products and Britax baby durables; and took on additional assignments from Reebok and Best Western. To help Maybelline recapture market share in the competitive eye-shadow cosmetics segment, the New York shop repositioned the brand as one that makes eye artistry easy via a microsite with how-to videos and step-by-step guidance on achieving the latest looks. With the launch of Eye Studio, Maybelline shadows are now the leader in the market. Gotham's success is in the numbers: Between 2009 and 2010, profit climbed 190%, while revenue was up 48%.
-- RUPAL PAREKH
2. WUNDERMANUnder Global CEO Daniel Morel, Wunderman is poised to break the $1 billion worldwide revenue mark. In the U.S., it may soon pass WPP parent shop Y&R in revenue. New-business wins globally last year included AARP, CVS Caremark, Tommy Hilfiger, Best Buy, Lilly, Cisco and Kodak, and it grew relationships with Microsoft, Nokia, Citibank, Sears and Burger King. The agency displayed its digital chops when, with the help of interactive unit Zaaz, it launched Entertainment Weekly's Must List iPad app. The app tied one of the magazine's most popular features to e-commerce outlets like iTunes, Amazon and Fandango. Wunderman also helped drive a highly successful integration with one of 2010's hottest products, Kinect for Xbox 360, and one of the year's most popular performers (and Twitterers) Justin Bieber. Every concert on his 2010 tour opened with Bieber playing Kinect, and onsite demos of the game at the concerts were also staged.
-- MICHAEL BUSH
3. PEREIRA & O'DELLSan Francisco-based Pereira & O'Dell hasn't lost any momentum since it was named Ad Age's 2010 Small Agency of the Year this past summer. In the back half of the year, for Diageo, it created the popular "Captain Morgan Workout" campaign. It's also is in the process of expanding its New York office and it's building a team in Sao Paulo, Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in that country. Under the moniker podSport, the agency is preparing to launch a new-business unit this year to help brands navigate the new market. Its majority owner, Brazilian agency Grupo ABC, is helping the agency set up shop there. While its founders PJ Pereira and Andrew O'Dell have roots in digital -- they decamped from AKQA to start the agency -- the shop now draws 55% revenue from digital and the remainder from offline disciplines such as TV, print, product development and PR. In all, 2010 saw revenue jump 50% to $15 million.
-- KUNUR PATEL
4. BBDOOver the course of 2010, BBDO added more than a dozen new brands and assignments from existing clients and, impressively, it won every global pitch it participated in. In a sign it's evolving from its status as a "Super Bowl" agency, BBDO picked up several digital agency-of-record assignments -- for Mars Inc.'s M&M's, Snickers and Milky Way; Johnson & Johnson baby products; and Lowe's. It wasn't a bad way to bounce back from the recession, which pinched BBDO especially hard with the shuttering of its onetime 2,000-person Detroit office that serviced former client Chrysler. As the agency of record for Starbucks, BBDO launched Via, the chain's foray into instant coffee. That helped the coffee giant gather 30% market share of the single serve/pod coffee category. Most recently, BBDO won Arby's nearly $100 million account.
-- MAUREEN MORRISON
5. TBWAFor such a massive agency network, TBWA has managed to keep its creative at the forefront with big-idea campaigns for Nissan, Pepsi and, of course, Apple. TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles' social-media-driven campaign for Pepsi's Refresh Project saw the marketer divert its Super Bowl budget toward social causes. It's been one of the most-important brand efforts of 2010, counting three billion media impressions and millions given to worthwhile grassroots causes. It's had continued success with Apple -- in 2010 with its work for the iPad -- and grown its relationship with Kraft, securing the Planters peanuts account and parking it in a spinoff shop called Being. Both of the networks' North American offices posted improved revenues. TBWA, New York, increased billings by 20% in 2010, and TBWA/Chiat/Day, L.A., saw revenue growth up 5%.
-- MAUREEN MORRISON
6. MARTINThe Martin Agency keeps setting its sights higher and higher. The shop had its greatest single-year revenue growth in 2010, ending the year 27% over 2009. It hired about 220 people, bringing headcount up to more than 600. Martin participated in 13 reviews last year and won 10, including Morgan Stanley, ESPN3.com and Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol and Motrin. It also won its first social media agency-of-record relationship with Mentos and quietly made its way onto Comcast's roster. Martin worked with Walmart to promote the "Halo Reach" video game and pitched in on the retailer's first movie, "Secrets of the Mountain" (a partnership with Procter & Gamble that aired on NBC in April). The agency created custom content within the movie, partnering with P&G, Conagra's Orville Redenbacher and PepsiCo. Martin faces a challenge going forward with Walmart; the account, the agency's biggest, is in the midst of a pricing exercise with agencies.
-- MAUREEN MORRISON
7. ZUBINo one nurtures clients who are finding their way in the U.S. Hispanic market more patiently than family-owned Zubi, based in Miami and run by Cuban-American siblings Joe and Michelle Zubi (or for the Spanish-adept: Zubizarreta). In 2010, 25% of all new Chase checking accounts were opened by Hispanics, and Zubi's tactics included Chase's first bicultural program. Clients' average tenure at the agency is 10 years, making it a thorn in the side of WPP for its strong grip on Ford Motor Co.'s U.S. Hispanic account -- one of few parts of the carmaker's marketing outside WPP control. In 2010, Zubi's Ford work included targeting for the Fiesta toward a younger, more bicultural audience than before. One new feature was a meter setting that let online visitors dial the amount of Spanish up or down. In new business, Zubi won Unilever's big personal-care-products review, which will add between 15% and 25% to the agency's revenue.
-- LAUREL WENTZ
8. FALLONIn 2010, Publicis Groupe's Fallon was invited to participate in more than 35 pitches; that marketers are once again courting the Minneapolis shop, only a handful of years after it fell on hard times and lost anchor accounts such as Citigroup and United Airlines, proves Fallon has risen from the ashes -- something that even in such a competitive industry much of the agency community has been hoping for. The turnaround began when former Saatchi exec Chris Foster took over as CEO in 2008. He helped the agency build revenue and win considerable business in 2009, such as Alpo, Cruzan Rum, Charter Communications and Chrysler. The momentum continued in 2010: The agency won three major accounts, all without a review. Fallon grabbed Cadillac's $270 million account in July, and resigned Chrysler in the process. It also won the $155 million H&R Block account in July as well as the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel account.
-- MAUREEN MORRISON
9. SAPIENTNITROAdland's got its share of rocky agency marriages, but 18 months in, the union of Sapient and creative agency Nitro is off to a good start. SapientNitro reported it grew revenue 31% in the third quarter of 2010, and it's expecting to post more than $500 million in revenue in 2010. It started the year by being named Chrysler's lead digital agency, was named lead digital partner for Coca-Cola's 2012 Olympics sponsorship, and does work for Unilever and confectioner Mars. Sapient's early bets in India are proving especially attractive to global marketers -- and their procurement officers. The agency has 65% of its 5,500 workforce in Asia-Pacific. In addition to digital wins last year, Sapient created TV spots for Healthy Choice Steamers with the snappy dialog, humor and narrative endemic to old-school creative shops.
-- KUNUR PATEL
10. MINDSHAREIt was a tough 2009 for WPP's Mindshare; it had lost its half of the $500 million Wrigley-Mars account, the $400 million Bristol-Myers Squibb account and the $32 million THQ gaming account. But after a reorganization that landed the charismatic Phil Cowdell, onetime head of media at WPP's Team Detroit, in the role of North American CEO, the agency found itself on a new-business tear. In 2010 it brought in nearly $1 billion in new billings and increased its revenue by 25% to nearly $400 million. Building on the slew of new clients it picked up in late 2009 -- such as Abbott Laboratories, Boehringer, Farmers Insurance, Sun Products and Skyy Spirits -- the agency last year added CVS, Radio Shack and 21st Century Insurance. Mindshare also expanded its relationship with its biggest client, Unilever.
-- MICHAEL BUSH