Small Agency Conference and Awards

Small Agency of the Year, Midwest, Gold: The Escape Pod

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Chicago-based Escape Pod is a small agency with big-time talent. Executive Creative Director Vinny Warren, who created Budweiser's legendary "Whassup" campaign while at DDB, co-founded Escape Pod 11 years ago with fellow DDB alum Norm Bilow, who wanted to escape big-agency life.

The duo said it guided the independent shop to 25% growth in 2016, while acquiring digital agency ORA Interactive and experiential agency OutCold. And one of The Escape Pod's hottest campaigns was decidedly cold. For outdoor equipment maker Ego, the shop traveled to Antarctica to make an ad that showed off the battery-powered Ego Power+ snowblower. It was so popular, the agency said, the snowblower sold out.

Southeastern Grocers, whose brands include Bi-Lo and Winn-Dixie, tapped the agency to promote the American Express Plenti rewards loyalty program, for which Southeastern became the first grocery member. The campaign starred actor Wayne Brady, who sang the program's benefits in purposely cheeky ads.

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