Last year started out sucking for TDA.
Two of the agency’s top three clients departed, ghosting more than a third of its revenue. So the Boulder, Colorado shop reduced its 2018 profit goal to zero. TDA ended the year with seven new clients, a tidy profit and a hiring binge.
“Not to be Barack Obama about it, but there is always hope,” says Thomas Dooley, TDA partner and executive creative director.
Hope and a strategy. In a world where so many agencies are pursuing hot disciplines like consulting and production companies are becoming agencies, TDA says it set itself apart “by not being afraid of what everyone else seems to be afraid of.” Or, as Jonathan Schoenberg, TDA partner and executive creative director, puts it: “Be a goddamn agency.”
For First Bank, TDA seized upon an insight that millennials, contrary to many perceptions, are savers. Its “Savings Is in Style” campaign included a takeoff on high-fashion ads with copy lines like “I still use my parents’ TV log-in.” The push drove a 34 percent rise in account openings, according to Jim Reuter, president-CEO of First Bank.
The agency hiked visits to Copper Mountain by 6 percent with the insight that the ski resort was competing against digital distractions rather than rival outdoor destinations. The work it created included out-of-home boards with lines such as: “Keeping kids off social media since 9 a.m.” TDA “gave us a voice, a way for people to have a conversation about going outside,” says Jesse True, senior VP marketing at Copper Mountain. Food and beverage sales grew more than 5 percent and lodging jumped more than 10 percent, he says. TDA also added to the fun with a “Pray for Snow” candle. (True swears there was record snowfall last winter.)
Revive Kombucha came to TDA for a new label, but Sean Lovett, CEO and founder, says the shop quickly “broke me down” to the idea of “completely overhauling our brand identity.” TDA created not only an award-winning design, but its ads took inspiration from—wait for it—LSD, hearkening back to the brand’s Haight-Ashbury roots with the tagline, “Explore your tongue’s mind.” The wild postings and magazine ads were printed on blotter paper. Sales grew 168 percent, and Peet’s Coffee acquired a majority stake in Revive last December.
What a long, strange trip it’s been.