The name Bandolier might sound familiar. In 2019, the four-person shop out of Austin placed on Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year roster for the first time, taking home the Southwest Silver award with its annual revenue then on track to hit $1 million. But the agency is not a one-hit wonder, because in 2020 it took home Southwest Silver again, and now it's moved up to winning gold.
It’s safe to say three-peat Small Agency of the Year Bandolier—now projecting a robust $2 million in revenue by year-end and padded with a network of freelance creatives—has found a recipe for success. It has attracted a wealth of well-known clients, such as Scotts Lawn Care for social duties, and works on a project basis for heavy hitters like Facebook, Tito’s Vodka, Duck Brand duct tape and Stanley. But Bandolier’s mix of creativity and business is not exclusively about clients bringing projects to the agency; sometimes, the work comes first and the brands follow.
A prime example from 2020 is Bandolier’s Unemployed Wine Guy persona, which the social-savvy agency launched on TikTok last fall as little more than a fun concept: an out-of-work sommelier reviewing malt liquor and Baconators on a budget. But even with a grand total of $0 spent on promotion, the original five-episode series rapidly morphed into a social media powerhouse, growing organically to reach more than 11 million cumulative views across TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, and netting plenty of partnerships in the process—including Bandolier’s first national beer brand client.