Agency A-List 2015

Anomaly Is No. 7 on Ad Age's 2015 Agency A-List

Its Continuing Strength Owes Largely to Moves Beyond the Expected

By Published on .

(From l.) Richard Mulder, Jason DeLand, Carl Johnson and, seated, Karina Wilsher
(From l.) Richard Mulder, Jason DeLand, Carl Johnson and, seated, Karina Wilsher Credit: Photography by Stephanie Diani/AP Images for Ad Age

There's something to be said for being picky.

Anomaly won five of the six new-business reviews it entered in 2014, including Google's Android, Panera, Duracell and the global Johnnie Walker account. But there wasn't that much in the way of pitching, considering Anomaly turned down 60 or so other invitations. Even so, last year was the decade-old shop's best yet. The agency posted revenue growth of 35%; added business from existing clients accounted for 65% of revenue growth.

Its continuing strength owes largely to moves beyond the expected. Though many know the agency mainly for work like its heart-tugging Super Bowl ad for Budweiser about the friendship between the Clydesdales and a puppy, the agency is drawing an increasing amount of revenue from nontraditional work. About half of its business comes from traditional advertising along with digital and social, 15% is derived from innovation and product development and 10% each from business strategy, design and intellectual property.

Anomaly's I.P. efforts, for example, yielded the 2013 breakout product Eos, which the agency sold after the lip balm beat ChapStick as the top brand in the category. Other I.P. ventures include "Avec Eric," an Emmy-winning show with famed chef Eric Ripert soon to enter its third season.

And while the A-List honors agencies' U.S. work, Anomaly is maintaining the kind of global focus that's increasingly necessary for big success in the States. Just recently, for example, it added staff to the Shanghai office opened after its global Budweiser win. Founding partner Jason Deland said agencies aren't properly equipped for the future if they don't diversify their capabilities and geographies, particularly for big multinational clients. "We made a concerted effort to go global and double down on expansion at a time when it was really challenging," he said.

The shop now boasts 420 people globally, an 18% increase over 2013. Some 250 of them are in New York, a 24% increase.

Advertising Age Player

Then there's Anomaly's creative excellence. For Dick's Sporting Goods, rather than enlisting pro athletes, Anomaly used amateurs to make the case that "sports matter" -- a tagline and the name of a program that awarded $2 million to financially challenged youth-sports teams. The work chronicled the lives of three struggling students who finding camaraderie and purpose through sports.

"It became a huge initiative," said Lauren Hobart, chief marketing officer at Dick's. "We filmed real kids telling real stories, so it felt different and disruptive." Dick's ended up funding 180 amateur teams through the initiative.

"They develop the communications platforms grounded in consumer insights," said Diageo Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer Peter McDonough of Anomaly. "They have a great planning team and provocative thinking, which stems from the genuine passion for the brand. They're a great strategic partner in thinking about how to move the brand forward."

Most Popular