Small Agency Conference and Awards

Small Agency of the Year, Gold: Terri & Sandy

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Terri & Sandy's campaign for Gerber
Terri & Sandy's campaign for Gerber Credit: Terri & Sandy

Terri & Sandy is no stranger to Ad Age's Small Agency Awards, having previously won Northeast Gold and Pro Bono Campaign Silver. This year, however, the women-led shop's record showing has earned it the top prize.

Not only did the New York-based agency nearly double its revenue from 2015 to 2016, jumping from $8 million to $13.6 million, it said, but it expects to bring home $19 million by the end of 2017. Recent account wins include Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, BJ's Wholesale Club, Avon, men's "grooming boutique" Barba and Emojibator, with organic growth coming from the likes of Gerber, Disney, People, Freshpet and Just Born Quality Confections. Earlier this year, the agency was named agency of record for Hain Celestial Group's Better-for-You Pantry brands.

"We have a joke that we've beaten agencies with offices in more countries than we have people," said co-founder and CEO Sandy Greenberg. "Creative people run the company and we communicate, approve things and make decisions fast."

Profit-sharing for employees starts the instant they're hired. "The morale in the industry overall is very bad," she said. "There's a lot of people who feel like no matter what they do, they don't feel the benefits -- and if they win a big client, the agency will put a gym in the CEO's office. So we decided the best way to make people feel invested is to have them literally be vested."

Another key to the agency's success, according to co-founder and CEO Terri Meyer, is that everyone gets along, which helps the shop keep its turnover rate below 10%, compared with the industry average of 30%, she said.

"We've fired people who we thought would ruin the culture and be a negative force," said Meyer, "and we're open about it with our people, and get everyone together and explain [the decision]."

Its philosophy of "founders and entrepreneurs" works. The shop launched its campaign for Gerber last year -- an account the creative duo previously pitched, won and worked on together for six years at FCB -- including a TV spot that showed the parallels between babies and the vegetables and fruits used in Gerber products (think: comparing blueberries to a baby's blue eyes). Initial in-market results, the agency reports, indicate a 2.5% year-to-date increase in consumption at Walmart (for the week ending April 1, 2017).

For Avon, the team flipped the company's outdated image into a relevant, digitally savvy brand for millennials with the tagline "This Is Boss Life" and a campaign celebrating the beauty of being your own boss. The empowering effort increased Avon's daily leads by 49%, according to the agency, raised brand consideration on YouTube by 10.3% (compared with the industry standard of 4%) and upped positive social engagement 55%.

Meyer is also proud of the agency's pro bono work, including its effort for Strands for Trans this past June for Pride Month, which aimed to help transgender men and women get haircuts without discrimination. In less than two weeks, the shop got more than 200 barbershops and salons across all 50 states to sign on to the cause, she said. For Barba, it created a sensation with "Pay With Your Balls," a push through which men got free grooming in exchange for testicular cancer screening.

What's next for this winning agency? No big changes are on the horizon. Meyer and Greenberg said they plan to focus on preserving the shop's culture and expanding its in-house studio, Magenta. But if a liquor brand or hospital came knocking, they said, they wouldn't mind adding it to their client roster.

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