When Anomaly was founded 11 years ago, its partners set out to create, well, an anomaly: a shop that could recommend and implement solutions using a variety of means, including traditional advertising, digital, social and new-product development. At the same time, Anomaly wanted to develop its own intellectual property. And clients would never be billed based on time, but on performance.
Founding partner Jason DeLand is the first to admit that Anomaly did not exactly take adland by storm at first. "Putting those things together in a workable system that made money, that was effective, that could create a wide range of work was difficult. There was not a playbook on how to do it. Every year, we were learning. So it took some time."
And now is Anomaly's time. The shop had a particularly good year in 2015, going seven-for-seven in new-business pitches. The wins included the Hershey Co.'s Jolly Rancher, Major League Baseball, Squarespace, New York Life, Abercrombie & Fitch, Kohl's and Diageo's Johnnie Walker. Those wins amounted to $29 million in annualized fees and the agency's New York office increased total revenue by 21% in 2015, according to Anomaly.
And the agency didn't just win assignments: It cranked out work, launching big new campaigns with large budgets for the likes of Budweiser, Panera, Johnnie Walker, Dick's Sporting Goods, Jolly Rancher, MLB and Converse.
Mr. DeLand said one key to success is that Anomaly is "financially disinterested in what the solution is" and maintains one P&L. "Most agencies are financially incentivised to recommend one solution over another," he said. For instance, "a social media agency is not going to recommend PR," he said, and a "product development company is not going to recommend advertising." But Anomaly seeks to solve big business problems using whatever approach works.
For Panera, the agency sought to help the chain regain its footing amid tough fast-food competition. The solution was a lushly produced campaign called "Food as It Should Be" that acknowledged—without preaching—that people can eat better. The effort included production of a "no-no list" of artificial ingredients Panera plans to stop using by 2016. "Good bread makes a sandwich, good soil makes a salad," declared one beautifully shot ad that portrayed how good eating made people feel joyful.
"Anomaly has had a big impact on our brand in a relatively short time frame. Their perspective and creative talent has helped elevate all of our work," said Chris Hollander, Panera's head of marketing.
When Jolly Rancher asked the shop to help the candy regain relevance with 18-to-24-year-olds, Anomaly responded with a campaign called "Keep On Sucking," which the shop described as a "rallying cry to smile at the punches life throws at you." Within two months, the agency cranked out more than 500 pieces of content that were produced in-house and tailored for social, TV and pre-roll ads. The effort leaned heavily on social media, using colorful fruity characters that responded to consumers in real time.
For Budweiser, Anomaly oversaw the "Brewed the Hard Way" campaign that proudly declared the nation's third-largest beer as a "macro" brew and even took shots at craft beer snobbery. It gained plenty of attention for the King of Beers, which is showing signs of a comeback after years of slumping. Anomaly is "a true partner, always ready to help us solve our toughest business problems with best-in- class creative. They do not cease to amaze and impress me," said Jorn Socquet, the brewer's U.S. marketing VP.