Introducing the 2021 Ad Age Agency A-List
This year’s Agency A-List might surprise you.
While some of the shops honored this year are repeats, they are not what you might call the usual suspects–and that’s because it wasn’t a usual year.
There were two seismic changes that swept the industry in 2020. The first is diversity and social justice, which finally became a business imperative rather than just a talking point. And the second is the turbocharging of digital transformation. The shops that made this list made serious strides in both areas.
The pandemic and lockdown made it clear that the most valued client partners were the ones that swiftly enabled them to—here comes that word—pivot during a time of upheaval. While lavish TV campaigns and online films remained important, digital deftness and strategic strength became crucial. Working from kitchen tables and home offices, the agencies on this list ripped up marketing plans; reimagined in-person events; created contactless-payment apps; churned out countless campaigns via Zoom; mapped out customer journey solutions for marketers; put their tech to work to enable ecommerce and curbside delivery; and found ways to purposefully connect brands with consumers during a time when they needed it most.
Or, as Droga5’s Chief Operating Officer Susie Nam put it: “It was a moment when we started thinking about ‘What do we have to work together to help?’ We rolled up our sleeves and said, ‘Client X is going to move to more digital transformation three years earlier than expected. What does that look like?’”
Our A-Listers also looked to transform their own ranks to become more inclusive, and while many of them still have a long way to go, it is evident they are making it a priority and making some progress as you can see from the statistics they provided.
As we begin our climb out of the pandemic, client priorities may shift again. But given the versatility the shops on this year’s A-List have shown, they will doubtlessly be up to whatever new challenges arise.