Last year was a bounce-back year and then some for Anomaly.
In 2020 the shop lost 20% of its U.S. business due in large part to Carnival Cruises and Booking.com pausing their business because of the pandemic. That caused a $25 million drop in revenue compared to 2019. But last year, with business back from Carnival and large account wins, the agency increased its revenue to $137 million, up $10 million from its 2019 numbers.
See all of Ad Age's A-List 2022 winners here.
Overall the agency scored 26 new business wins across the U.S. for brands including Jimmy John's, Netflix, Oculus, Abbott, Denny's, Tanqueray, multiple Google initiatives, Amazon Corporate and, most notably, Dunkin’. The shop also became global lead agency on Expedia, for which it did a Super Bowl ad earlier this year. While that is a healthy number of wins, Anomaly prides itself on its selectivity, having rejected more than 50 new business opportunities last year.
“Our growth strategy has really come from organic growth,” said Jiah Choi, CEO of Anomaly Los Angeles. "This means investing in the clients that you have and growing with them together—which is why there's a legacy of long-term relationships with brands like Diageo, Coca-Cola and Google. I am very clear with new business clients: We're also interviewing you while you're getting to know us. We're not a desperate group and our growth doesn't just come from new business. And even in the new business opportunities we decide to go after, if there isn't a genuine opportunity to organically grow with them, it's not worth it.”
One new client Anomaly did go after is Dunkin', one of the biggest pitches of the year, which shifted its account after working with BBDO since 2018. In 2020, Dunkin’s U.S. ad spending totalled about $442 million, according to Ad Age Datacenter estimates. The iconic brand—which ranks as a distant No. 2 coffee chain behind Starbucks—was acquired by Inspire Brands, which wanted to reinvigorate it while preserving its essence, said Franke Rodriguez, CEO of Anomaly New York and Toronto.
Buy your ticket for the Ad Age A-List & Creativity Awards Gala at AdAge.com/ACGala.
“The brief was really 'How do we take "America runs on Dunkin,’’ and Dunkin’, which is an iconic brand, and breathe new life in it,” Rodriguez said. “How do we contemporize this notion of what ‘America runs on Dunkin' means? We didn't want to walk away from that idea, but it certainly needed a new lens. We needed to reframe it and aim it for America today without losing the earnest equity it's built."
The challenge was not to "lose the notion that it's a brand for these blue-collar and hardworking people, but still bring in some aspiration into that," said Rodriguez. "It's not just for construction workers and the police. It's more than that. There are lots of ways young and progressive modern Americans fit from a values perspective.”
The work inspired by that brief will be coming later this year.
For another client, Denny's, Anomaly strategized a platform to modernize its image and bring consumers back into its restaurants. Denny's, like many chains, was hit hard by the pandemic, especially early on when its U.S. system-wide sales fell 35.2% to $1.74 billion in 2020. In February of this year, Anomaly launched a new brand platform called “Open for Anything" meant to remind customers about the brand, but also let people know that “It’s not your grandma’s Denny's,” Rodriguez said. The agency has also had conversations with the brand about internal communications strategy, including recruitment campaigns.
Freakin’ Jimmys Johns!
Probably the best recent example of Anomaly bringing new energy into a brand is its work for sandwich brand Jimmy John’s.
Last year the agency launched a Super Bowl ad for the brand starring Brad Garrett as Tony Bolognavich, the Mafia-inspired “King of Cold Cuts” who’s isn’t a fan of the fresh ingredients Jimmy John’s uses in its sandwiches—he even deliberately mispronounces the chain’s name in its own ad. The brand originally wasn’t looking for a Super Bowl spot or even a spokesman, but was looking to disrupt the quick-service restaurant category and differentiate itself from “a sea of sameness” in the sandwich segment, Choi said. In other words, to stand out from much larger competitors such as Subway.