Barkley grew revenue with out-of-the-box client strategies
Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri, independent Barkley had been quietly humming along and turning out great work for clients like Dairy Queen and its largest client, Planet Fitness.
And then COVID came.
But Barkley, despite several of its clients being in industries particularly hard hit by the pandemic, not only persevered but grew. The shop managed 40% organic growth and broke 2019’s record-breaking revenue by 15%. It brought on 20 new clients in 20 months, including San Jose State University, U.S. Bank, Delta Faucets, and one of the most-watched brands of last year, Motel 6. Moreover, the agency won a B Corp certification and grew its ranks, with 25% of new hires people of color.
As Barkley said in its entry, “great brands don’t go dark, they just move to other places.” And the 450-person shop set to work helping its clients make that move.
For Planet Fitness, it helped the client create “Work-Ins” for homebound members after the chain was forced to close 2,000 locations during lockdown. It’s “United We Move” push, created within two days, streamed Work-Ins on Facebook live and invited trainers and celebrities to lead online instruction. The result: 374 million total impressions, 530,000 app downloads and an increase in membership.
For Dairy Queen, Barkley had to find a way to deliver on its tagline, “Happy tastes good” during a time when happiness was in short supply. So the agency created in-home activities including a do-it-yourself home waterpark and candles that smell like its signature Blizzard product. The candle sets sold out within three minutes. The combined efforts helped turn around Dairy Queen’s 8% sales decline in the first quarter of 2020, allowing it to end the year with an 11% gain.
The agency also undertook a rebrand of ShopRite to draw in millennials with a new approach—”Helping you get it together, together”—that included redesigns of its house brands, renaming them Bowl & Basket and Paperbird, as well as a repositioning of ShopRite from a value-price leader to a brand with values. The push enabled the grocery chain to post double-digit year-on-year sales growth for its own brands; 10% sales growth overall and increase brand consideration with shoppers under age 40.