Ad Age’s 2014 Small Agency Awards Recap – Better Late Than Never

Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh.

Do you know what that is?  That’s me heaving a giant sigh of relief, on account of I now have a Master’s Degree.  Done.  Finished.  Drop the mic.  I’m a free man.

So that means (fingers crossed) that I can now dedicate more time to chatting with you on this blog.  And the first thing I’d like to talk about in my post-grad school days are a few recent winners of Advertising Age‘s annual Small Agency Awards.  The winners of these awards have demonstrated exceptional craftsmanship, creativity, and cojones in their work, all while providing proven results for clients and keeping their employee roster anywhere between 1 and 150.

Here are a few winners that stuck out for me.

Agency of the Year, Gold: Muhtayzik Hoffer, San Francisco

As Maureen Morrison said in Ad Age, “Part of the shop’s success comes from the fact that it’s highly versatile.”¹  With clients ranging from HP to Netflix to the Golden State Warriors to Previously Owned By a Gay Man (yes, that’s a real company), this shop has proven its ability to think outside the box within the TV and digital realms, creating content that should’ve gone viral months ago, if it hasn’t already.  See what I mean by watching below:

Also, if you visit their website, mtzhf.com, you’ll notice they’ve achieved a really nice neo-art-deco decor in their office.  Very cool.

Agency of the Year, Silver: Proof Advertising, Austin, TX

Although this agency’s only been around for four years, it’s got a fantastic track record.  Other than the award won this year, they were featured in Ad Age’s awards in 2012, were named as the agency of record for Subway, and had their work featured in practically every major industry publication.  I really like the “Unforgettable” campaign for San Antonio Tourism.  The unquestionable Western theme, combined with elements of surrealist whimsy, remind me a lot of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real.  I also enjoyed Schweigert Meats’ “Overly Uncomplicated” campaign, which illustrates the simple, wholesome quality of the company’s products through glib, candid advertising.  You can see more of their work here: http://proof-advertising.com/work/

1-10 Employees, Gold: Odysseus Arms, San Francisco

Have you seen the recent ads for YouTube?  I mean, have you seen the recent ad campaign for YouTube?  That’s a new national campaign, launched in part by the good people at this West Coast agency.  Some of their other achievements include work for CapitalOne, a global integrated marketing campaign for Amnesty International, and an upcoming content campaign for Microsoft that portrays the company’s ability to help small- to medium-sized businesses.  Check ’em out at o-arms.com.

11-75 Employees, Gold: Tiny Rebellion, Los Angeles

Of all the agencies I’ve seen in the past year, I’ve never encountered one whose personal brand platform is so heavily integrated around social responsibility.  Via Tiny Rebellion’s Website-

We partner with corporations, organizations, individuals, and communities that want to put something useful and powerful into the world.  Brands that live with a higher purpose, brands that strive to close the gap between the way the world is now and how they want it to be. We’re here to help them improve the lives of the people who work for them and the people they engage with.  We work with challengers and visionaries who believe in ethical, moral, responsible, and sustainable marketing and business practices. But that’s not enough. An optimistic outlook and creativity only work and scale when you deliver better business results.

So not only are they focused on driving business results in a creative fashion, but they seek to work with companies whose purpose is not just defined by increasing the bottom line.  I think this is incredibly noble of them to maintain this credo, and according to Partner Amir Haque, “[They] actually turn down more opportunities than [they] accept.”  Understandable.

Perhaps my favorite campaign of theirs is the #FoodPorn Index for Bolthouse Farms.  In order to promote healthier eating habits, the agency launched the Food Porn hashtag, to be used in association with tweets about fruits and vegetables.  The Index tallies the number of mentions received by specific food items, in comparison with candy, desserts, and other not-so-healthy food items.  The page has generated almost 275,000 views per month.  With these results, I’m looking forward to seeing what these folks come out with as they grow.  Check out tiny-rebellion.com.

76-150 Employees, Gold: The Brooklyn Brothers, New York

The last agency we’ll look at today is pretty much the exact opposite of Tiny Rebellion, in that they use entertainment and A-list celebrities to drive engagement with their brands.  Take a look at their reel at http://thebrooklynbrothers.com/#showreel, and you’ll see celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Gordon Ramsey and John Krasinski, not to mention powerful brands like New Era, Fuse TV, and CNN.com.  Their influence isn’t exclusive to the East Coast, either – they have offices in London, Brazil, and coming soon, Los Angeles.  Visit thebrooklynbrothers.com for more info (I’m surprised people often go to their site expecting to see Brooks Brothers).

You can find the full list of winners for this year’s awards at http://bit.ly/1o5XOPO.  And if you visit the sites of the agencies I mentioned, let me know what you think about their work.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Well, I gotta go to work now.  Cheers!

 

¹http://bit.ly/1lwL1vG

 

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