This long-time It Lister has enjoyed steady, double-digit growth annually for six out of the past seven years. Enhanced its digital services with expertise on YouTube creators, industry bloggers and online influencers. Touts its reputation in sports and entertainment, but flexed strategic muscle this year by steering a guerrilla campaign for The Biotechnology Innovation Organization through the highly charged political scene at the national conventions, and deploying Vitamin C Immune Patrols (complete with a Saint Bernard) for Ester-C at ski resorts.
Dropping “International” from its name this year and adopting the “We Make Brands Happen” tagline, this now bicoastal agency celebrated its fifth anniversary with a fête in Palm Springs. Enhanced in-house creative technologies to include video editing, 3D rendering for activations and displays and animation across digital and stadium assets. This year tackled the Final Four with LG, the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 with Microsoft and Super Bowl 51 with Papa John’s and its “Family Feud” activation and digital extensions tied to #PizzaFamily.
CORE 1: Sponsorship Activation CORE 2: Mobile Tours CORE 3: Launch Events FOCUS SPLIT: 80% B-to-C, 20% B-to-B CLIENTS INCLUDE: Energy Upgrade CA, Hyundai Motor America, LG Electronics USA, L’Oréal (NYX Cosmetics), Papa John’s WEB: advantagemrktg.com RFP CONTACT: John Lane, email@example.com
With a “can do” spirit clients rave about, this Chicago-based veteran has several b-to-b wins under its belt this year. A successful Intuit QuickBooks Connect conference, complete with a lineup of all-star speakers from Michael Phelps to Malcolm Gladwell, led to the extension of smaller versions in London and Sydney. Produced Hampton’s Ultimate GM Huddle in Orlando, activating a facial recognition vending machine and a mini music festival. Capping the year, entered into a strategic partnership with breakfast lecture series CreativeMornings.
Fresh off the placement of a brand-new leadership team last year, boosted its adult beverage investment by recruiting new gurus, including Seth Gable as creative director, the former Mosaic brainchild behind Bud Light’s Whatever, USA 2.0. Demonstrated range this year with Char-Broil Nights pop-up events at popular burger shrines and a buzz-building campaign for Maserati’s first SUV, the Levante. Nearing the agency’s 20th anniversary, co-founders Brook Jay and Sarah Eck-Thompson were inducted into the Chicago Area’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
Allied is still buzzing from People’s Choice and Ex Awards wins for its Netflix “Gilmore Girls” nationwide coffee shop takeovers for the series’ reboot—an effort bolstered by its 21 field offices nationwide. Flexed its muscle with the “American Ninja Warrior” course at VidCon and then spread its wings with an invisible “Wonder Woman” jet at San Diego Comic-Con. On top of dominating the entertainment event space, the agency is increasing its focus on special markets and hired a dedicated LGBTQ marketing director to bolster these efforts.
The Maryland-based agency signed on Signe Hilton, former director of game entertainment for the Washington Redskins, as new director of client services. Produced a Milk-Bone and Target program at NASCAR events complete with puppy pit stops, a doggy sampling bar, stunt shows and roving paw patrols that earned the brands nearly one million impressions. Underscoring its sports and entertainment know-how, the office fantasy football league has clients and even athletes themselves asking for open spots six months before the draft.
On top of bases in Manhattan, L.A. and Miami, BMF planted roots in Austin to serve Southern clients and plug into SXSW and Austin City Limits. Expanded its strategic consulting services with custom-tailored retainer packages. Launched Destination Dell: A b-to-b mobile tour that hit 40 stops that doubled as both an executive briefing center and an employee engagement tool with happy hours, concerts and game breaks. Enjoyed more than 28 million p.r. impressions from a Marriott Autograph London multi-day media event.
Sampling programs remain this former Bottlerocket Marketing agency’s bread and butter, but clients say they love its “spectrum” of ideas and capabilities from the tried-and-true to “scare the heck out of our legal team.” Among executions this year: a 1,600-square-foot mosaic of Red Sox icon David Ortiz for Dunkin’ Donuts and re-creating a HISTORY “Vikings” scene with live snakes in a San Diego Comic-Con booth. Expanded its sampling capabilities with the new end-to-end DIGITRY network solution.
Broadstreet honed its tech chops this year by adding augmented and virtual reality activations, on top of meeting planning and logistics, to its offerings. Developed a mixed reality demo for Konika Minolta printers with HoloLens, and a 110-foot mosaic LED wall at a national pharmaceutical sales meeting that interacted with live dancers. Welcomed 25-year industry vet Peter Scott as new cmo, and continues to foster a tight-knit office environment with dogs and traditions: cheers to Champagne Tuesdays.
Brand-new “fast casual” It Lister Cadence boasts in-house rental and fabrication arms, but considers itself a boutique agency. Logistics are a clear capability for this 20-year-old Wheeling, IL, outfit, having driven cars off cranes and into fourth-story windows and deployed an army of bulldozers to clear a bean field for clients… just this year also flew in 30,000 cups of Gazpacho from Europe for Alvalle’s “La Gazpacheria” sampling experience at the America’s Cup in Chicago. Delicious.
This venerable multicultural marketing agency paved the way for growth by adding two new floors to its Chicago office. Launched new division HENRY, which focuses on data, strategy, media and shopper and influencer marketing. Worked with client of more than 20 years Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light and NFL teams on unique fan experiences including a “glamping” trip inside FedEx field and a viewing event on the 63rd floor of One World Trade Center. And clocked nearly 68,000 engagements for Sprint at Copa América soccer matches.
The 2017 Grand Ex Award winner made a bold statement with the Airbnb Open, but, fact is, bold has always been something CEG was known for. Part of Ryan Seacrest’s growing portfolio of companies, what began as a New York City municipal promotion and event agency has become soooo much more. New? The installment of a cultural insights team charged with helping clients “navigate shifting cultural tides” related to their experiential marketing strategies with chief culture officer Linda Ong at the helm.
As part of a strategic rebranding, shortened its name from Creative Producers Group, and named Jeremy Carrus, who’s resume includes Disney and McDonald’s, as new creative director. Introduced two new leadership programs for clients’ internal events (Millennial Alignment and Heroic Journey), and executed its largest event in seven years for Southwest Airlines: six events, six cities and live broadcasts for 15,000 employees that resulted in a 50 percent increase in attendance year over year.
You don’t know Cramer? Shame on you. Absolutely on our “ones to watch” list, which means it absolutely needs to be on your radar screen, playa. One of the industry’s most razor-sharp b-to-b event agencies, this Boston experiential shop boasts some of the heaviest strategic chops (Hey Brent Turner… you… you’re good), bleeding-edge technology offerings, experience design and audience engagement know-how, plus, one of the biggest content development capabilities of any b-to-b agency on this list. Check. Them. Out.
For DriveShop, 2017 is poised to be another record year in growth and work supporting the automotive industry. Is evolving digital marketing and social media advertising offerings, and recently hired a dedicated influencer and social media director. For Hyundai, partnered with Amazon for a first-of-its-kind on-demand test drive experience for Prime customers. Its annual Pineblock Derby charity event at the Redmond, WA, HQ will have 50 hand-produced cars competing, the biggest to date.
FOCUS SPLIT: 100% B-to-C CLIENTS INCLUDE: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors, Kia Motors America, Mazda North America, Toyota Motor North America WEB:driveshop.com
RFP CONTACT: Todd Liedeke, firstname.lastname@example.org
This full-service experiential agency has an event technology backbone, reflected in its customer acquisition and data capture capabilities, proprietary software and, new this year, virtual reality and augmented reality expertise. Oversaw staffing and scheduling for 650-plus MetroPCS events in Philadelphia and Southern California markets to drive awareness and sales. Launched the Product Sampling Store portal online at weknowsampling.com, and increased training and vacation days for employees, on top of bestowing premium welcome gifts upon newbies.
The eco-friendly campus based in Falmouth, ME, provides clients with uncommon cost efficiencies and EMG3 staffers with the benefits of working amid incredible Coastal Maine. Over the last year hired a new senior vp-client engagement and a new senior director-operations. Is in the process of developing and deploying an event activation secret shopping initiative that will combine primary research with customer experience analytics and national polling to evaluate program strengths and weaknesses.
This consistent award-winner underwent a rebranding this past year. Bolstered its research and insights department, adding headcount and proprietary tools to support its engagement consulting practice, now 20 percent of the agency’s overall revenue. Served up a 185-percent increase in reach for a Greyhound influencer program. The in-office Kegs + Eggs and DIY workshops may have inspired the “handcrafted”-themed, 8,800-square-foot Budweiser Country Club at music festivals last year.
An experiential agency with mobile expertise, Epsilon’s Conversant arm manages the agency’s digital offerings. Expanded its relationship with Bacardi to include St-Germain, on top of activating for Grey Goose at Kentucky Derby, U.S. Open and the ESPYs. Its interactive Poland Spring Cheer Meter display at the Boston Marathon earned 21 million media impressions and big bucks for One Fund Boston. Its Farm to Flavor Adventure for Alexia Foods with local chef demos served up equally satisfying results with a 90 percent increase in brand awareness.
This now 36-year industry veteran out of Columbus, OH, has enjoyed long-term relationships with clients in industries ranging from utilities and insurance to recycling and sustainability. Because of this, EMS boasts a “knack” for elevating the mundane: like transforming waste management into a 10-minute engagement. A lively office features playful amenities like scooters, which were also woven into a campaign for Piada Italian Street Food.
Creative development remains at Eventage’s core. Recently added TV spots to its menu of in-house broadcast services. As half its clients are non-profits, this family-owned agency knows how to do more with less. Emphasis on the more. Overhauled the Opening Ceremony presented by United Airlines at the TSC NYC Marathon Olympics-style with 1,300 marchers and a fresh script. Said the client: “You came in, took over and made it what I’ve been wanting it to be for years.”
This “global but local” agency this year lit up the office disco ball with a number of new clients, including Cigna. Incorporated a number of new on-site digital tools (RFID and beacon technology) to provide greater data and analytics concerning consumer behavior at events. Flexed its disruptive muscle this year with hands-on experiences including human head dissection for Galderma at Med Ed, and creating an interactive parade float co-created by parade-goers for Hilton’s LGBT event program.
CORE 1: Mobile Tours CORE 2: Sponsorship Activation CORE 3: Trade Show Programs
One of the oldest experiential marketing agencies in the industry (41 years), it’s known for producing the “impossible.” Think: Constructing an island on the Hudson River, and producing a live media event for the First Lady with three-weeks lead time. Among a diverse range of clients, added this year Carnival Cruise Line to expand its reach in travel and hospitality. A Beauty + Swag truck for NYX makeup, with express lip touch-ups and social media staging, generated 8,579 one-on-one interactions.
CORE 1: Mobile Tours CORE 2: Health Insurance Activations CORE 3: Launch Events
A continued focus on digital and word-of-mouth shareability keep EventNext’s disruptive stunts, launch events and interactive test drives on the map long after they’ve ended. Aggressive recruiting tactics help retain top talent, including brand ambassadors who are empowered to sell product while activating events. A Detroit Design Festival activation for Chrysler had attendees writing on glow-in-the-dark walls in an homage to Motor City; one in four asked to be contacted by a dealer. And a Brooks Running national tour reached 300,000 runners.
EVI specializes in producing large-scale experiences, including corporate meetings for Fortune 500 clients and world-class music events. Think: concerts featuring rare artist collaborations customized for corporate audiences. The latest included a 210-foot stage designed with a combo of HD LED panels and projection surfaces, while surrounding screens displayed keynote content and real-time tweets. Keeps the team, including new technical and creative directors, in lockstep with proprietary procedures and checklists.
Recently added experience design to its core offerings and continues to develop proprietary event technology solutions, like FactorySnap, an in-house photo application that offers clients a way to track and measure consumer behavior in real time—driving down vendor costs for clients in the process. Established in the midst of the Great Recession, the team is well equipped to adapt to its surroundings and pivot on the fly. And an internal network of over 20,000 brand ambassadors lends a layer of authenticity to every program.
Whether the team is working alongside WWE wrestlers, pro hockey players or Metallica, its behavior-based, data-driven approach is moving the needle. Moved to new offices to accommodate an over 50 percent increase in its diverse staff, which includes a professional baker, a high-society Southern belle and a dude nicknamed “Big Angela.” An in-house video production suite, Content Lab and Creative Realism initiative help the team interweave physical and digital experiences.
By the numbers: one new acquisition, three leaders added to the Executive Leadership Committee, three new strategists, 20 corporate social responsibility initiatives and 21 promotions. Acquisition of BKA added killer creative and production prowess to its catalogue. Expanded capabilities, including dedicated venue sourcing and a range of event tech solutions. Executed a takeover of Manhattan’s South Street Seaport with a festival-style block party for AOL that blew the roof off at the NewFronts.
FOCUS SPLIT: 5% B-to-C, 95% B-to-B CLIENTS INCLUDE: AOL, Fresenius Medical Care North America, MasterCard, The New York Times, UNICEF WEB: firstagency.com RFP CONTACT: Jared Elish, email@example.com
Family-owned Freeman’s experiential marketing agency spinoff continues to hire as it expands around the world. Recent highlights, you ask us? A variety of new products and services were launched over the last 12 months, including five virtual reality offerings and a Customer Plan Tour tool related to event sponsorship revenue. The company also continues to innovate in the area of creativity and design via its ongoing relationship with Canadian super designer Bruce Mau. Its transformation of a popular mall in Beijing for Warner Bros.’ “Fanastic Beasts” was hot.
Targeting youth? These are your peeps. Fuse has helped consumer, sports and lifestyle brands authentically speak to millennials and Gen Z for the last two decades. Areas of expertise include college marketing, influencer campaigns and content creation. Rocked NBA All-Star Weekend with the Uncle Drew Restaurant, an expansion of a series of Pepsi commercials starring Kyrie Irving. Also, seriously beefed up its brand ambassador offerings over the last year.
Acquired by talent agency WME | IMG last spring, FUSION offers its clients unprecedented access to top influencers and celebrities. Large-scale experiences are the name of the game, like a takeover of Alcatraz for Budweiser during Super Bowl 50, when more than 400 VIPs were treated to an exclusive tour of the island, private acoustic set and fireworks display. Developed an incentive-driven b-to-b program that allows users to redeem points for access to experiences tied to high-profile celebrities.
Developing programs that drive conversion and make a measurable impact on clients’ bottom lines is second nature to this outfit. Established a multicultural team charged with implementing strategy and creative. Continues to thrive in the retail space through programs that influence buyer behavior, and proprietary tools that map and analyze shoppers’ purchase decision journeys. New York’s Chocolate Factory serves as a sweet home base for the North American team.
Data is king inside the biggest marketing agency within global holding company Project: Worldwide’s global monstrosity of shops is putting much more of an emphasis and a global bet as an agency differentiator on data and the growing role/power of data-—leveraging existing metrics, reimagining the “artful collection of new data,” tweaking the integration of various data points and adding focus and strategy to the conversion of that data into actionable analytics. Announced plans to open a new office in Dallas.
CORE 1: Global Event Programs CORE 2: Trade Show Programs CORE 3: Sponsorship Activation
FOCUS SPLIT: 35% B-to-C, 65% B-to-B CLIENTS INCLUDE: Cisco, IBM, Salesforce, Toyota USA, Under Armour WEB: gpj.com
RFP CONTACT: Scott Kellner, firstname.lastname@example.org
CEO Steve Moster is keeping his promise to employees and clients—the global trade show giant’s expansion into strategic experiential and event marketing continues, with traction stemming from new hires, new capabilities, new acquisitions and new wins. “GES is second to none,” said one client. “This is one amazingly hard-working group. Reliable. Dependable.” With a global footprint that is shockingly comprehensive to look at on a map and the support and backing of owner Viad, the GES Events unit is on the rise in 2017… and beyond.
Giant Step originally hit the scene as a club promoter and underground record label, making it an authority on music and culture, and a reliable producer of once-in-a-lifetime experiences. New virtual reality production capabilities allow for a melding of VR content and multisensory elements that foster immersive storytelling experiences. Partnerships afford access to a youth insights consultancy, data-driven influencer platform and comprehensive network of concert promoters, venues, festivals and media companies.
Work is derived from eight in-house centers of excellence containing 30 specialty service offerings that give GMR’s team of 850 the tools they need to seamlessly activate on a global scale. Already an industry veteran, the agency has its sights set on developing new areas of expertise, including augmented reality, virtual reality and esports. Recently supported 15 different clients and dozens of brands at the 2016 Olympic Games, and led the NFL’s environmental décor program for Super Bowl LI.
A leader in launch events and automotive experiences, GOXD has been around since ‘99, helping clients apply best practices and avoid common pitfalls—and delivering measurable results. Brings a b-to-c spirit to large-scale b-to-b events, and continues to build a presence in the consumer sector. A new Strategy and Validation initiative helps clients execute programs designed to serve their business objectives while delivering relevant attendee messaging. A 2016 launch event for Porsche led to a three-mile traffic jam caused by rubbernecking on L.A.’s I-405.
Woman-owned and operated, Grow can often be found rallying agency partners to work together to achieve clients’ objectives. With 16 years under its belt, the agency is earning biz from the likes of YouTube, Target and Nike, in addition to maintaining strong relationships with clients Google and Pernod Ricard. Added three designers to the team and increasingly serves as a one-stop shop for its clients’ marketing needs. Beefed up its media coverage efforts to ensure campaign amplification.
Hires content creators, social media influencers and other cultural tastemakers to ensure an authentic understanding of the culture that consumers value and identify with. Specializes in interweaving digital and live, and continues to add new technology, like virtual reality, to its service offerings. Helped change consumer perceptions with a “ShoeLove” campaign for Amopé insoles featuring a mobile fashion boutique, influencers and a chance to win designer shoes, racking up 164 million impressions along the way.
Rebranded after a merge with ignition and Cake to deliver integrated sponsorship management, content development and event execution services. Focused on enhancing sponsorship and partnership consulting efforts to maximize existing relationships and foster new ones. Helped launch Havas Group’s proprietary Meaningful Brands initiative, the largest global analytics study of its kind, unlocking insights on what makes brands meaningful to consumers. Reached 20 million teens and earned 200 million impressions for Coke’s youth-centric 2016 Olympics campaign.
Increased both staff and business by 15 percent while maintaining a host of long-standing clients who value its talent for communicating brand messaging that drives action. Launched 14 new ice cream products for Tillamook with a vintage-style Ice Cream Yum Bus featuring a flip-open roof that allowed brand ambassadors to dish out more than 72,000 samples. “Get Your Shit Done” comp days keep the team refreshed and ready to tackle the next campaign.
Sponsorship activations for sports and entertainment properties are HMT’s forte, whether at Red Rocks for Jeep or on tour with NABISCO and One Direction. Another strength—shopper-focused engagements like the OREO Dunk Challenge, which transformed traditional grocery store sampling into interactive, memorable experiences at nearly 8,000 locations. Equally adept at internal events, contests, corporate hospitality, street teams, guerrilla tactics and giving tender loving care to brand mascots like Mondelez’ Teddy and the Sour Patch Kids.
With significant investments made to its IT infrastructure and a High Business Impact security award under its belt, clients come to Redmond, WA-based ImagiCorps because it knows how to keep a secret. Not so secret? The production of the Pokémon World Championships in San Francisco, which drew 5,000 players from 35 countries, 50,000 attendees and two million remote watchers. When not managing events, tours and building retail and corporate interior environments, you’ll find this team on the slopes supporting the Special Olympics. Nice.
FOCUS SPLIT: 90% B-to-C, 10% B-to-B
CLIENTS INCLUDE: Fluke, Microsoft, MLB, PACCAR, Pokémon WEB:imagicorps.com RFP CONTACT: Thomas Hutchinson, email@example.com
Its acquisition last year by talent powerhouse WME | IMG gives IMG Live direct access to sports and lifestyle events worldwide and a pipeline of celebrities and influencers across the globe. In 2016, it reached millions of people physically and digitally at more than 3,000 sports, entertainment and hospitality events. Continues to push boundaries, getting into martial arts and esports video game competitions, which all adds up to increased staff and new clients (among them: Cadillac, Dell and MLS) for this busy agency.
Works across many different industries, but after 35 years handling global event and trade show programs, strength in healthcare, technology and industrial remains its core. Attracts longterm clients (some have stayed 15 to 30 years). A PlayStation VR Tour for Sony heralded the arrival of the product before it was available to the general public at more than 500 events and 64,000-plus engagements. Established a SoCal office in 2016 and, with a proprietary Strategic Playbook up its sleeve, look for even more impactful work in the year ahead.
2016 was a busy year for IMT with technology-meets-festivalization productions for HP-Intel at Panorama and Coachella, the first-ever live-action HP Omen Challenge gaming competition on Twitch, Intel’s first foray into SXSW with the Intel AI Lounge and more than 25 red carpet movie premieres and related experiences. Clients also hail from the fields of education, fashion, food & beverage, automotive, travel and finance, all seeking to create the boundary-pushing experiences IMT is known for.
If you’re looking to send employees off to a dinner on the Great Wall of China or treat clients to a VIP night at the Grammys, this is your go-to. As worldwide event and location specialists, Infrared combines custom event, incentive travel and hospitality with logistics and planning expertise to pull off corporate meetings, launch events and more. A licensed travel agency and member of the kyu collective, its marketing expertise runs broad and deep.
Boasts a diverse client roster, with a significant portion of clients within the beverage category, and a deep knowledge of the beer, wine and spirits industry. Engages a network of in-market millennial-aged influencers to understand the nuances of each of the 40 markets where it has a presence, resulting in hyper-local market knowledge and up-and-coming consumer trends. Has beefed up its insights and analytics solutions and added a Warehouse and Logistics department.
2016 marked Invision’s 25th anniversary and a repositioning around the agency’s core principle—the power of people to learn, grow and succeed. That philosophy played out in a VR experience at Cisco Live that introduced attendees to its Internet of Things products, and an Escape Room team-building activity for Intercept Pharmaceuticals. Positive thinking plus a thriving Technology Innovation Group (that earned top marks during a CEMA Summit innovation demo) and a Personalized Experience Optimizer is setting this agency up for another vibrant 25 years… or more.
With increased account teams in New York City and London offices, along with an overall 14 percent growth in its full ranks, INVNT is growing at a pace like never before. New work on the AIA Conference on Architecture, the FutureStack tour of events from digital intelligence leader New Relic and ESPN’s upfront point to its ever-expanding creative, as well. Also growing—its Event Strategy Consulting service for brands seeking to resonate with new audiences. This agency is on the move.
Ahhhh… the mighty Jack. Introduced a new content marketing capability, and continues to roll out new immersive and inventive technology offerings across the portfolio. The often-unbeatable b-to-b work has truly been joined by some of its best consumer experiential campaigns in recent history. And the hiring of new chief creative officer and design thinking wunderkind Bruce Henderson has added a tsunami of creative energy, innovative thinking and ripples of ideation throughout the veteran global agency. Enough said.
Clients enamored of its consumer-facing work now lean on the Cow for trade shows and events such as SuperZoo and Specialty Vet Conferences. Other highlights include the Better With Pets Summit on behalf of Nestlé Purina, and numerous projects for Food Lion, which required marketing, logistical and food handling expertise, including a Charlotte, NC, takeover for the grocery chain that drove consumer engagement and award-winning Food Lion Women’s Shows that demoed its private-label products.
A growing client base, partnerships with HP and Samsung and the addition of Volvo and Genesis to the roster signal Kubik’s continued growth after 34 years in business. Staff count is up by 15 percent as well. Additional environmental projects for museums and galleries have increased its cultural-focused experience. Enjoys a global reputation for domestic and international exhibits and exhibitions, media events, theme parks and brand experiences, and now boasts a team exclusively focused on retail.
CORE 1: Trade Show Programs CORE 2: Global Event Programs CORE 3: Corporate Visitor/Experience Centers
Acquisition by CSM Sport & Entertainment last fall gives LeadDog new resources, bigger reach and opportunities to think big. Brought Louis Vuitton’s America’s Cup World Series to NYC for the first time in nearly 100 years, activated five events in the Bay Area for Super Bowl 50 and launched the first-ever Ryder Cup Trophy Tour with PGA of America. Its in-house Breed division works with cutting-edge start-ups like The Drone Racing League. Yep, that’s thinking big.
With expanded wine, champagne and off-premise retail marketing efforts adding dozens of new activation markets to its roster, 75 additional full-time and 300 part-time staffers help Legacy stay ahead of the curve. Has also expanded analytics resources and offerings, including data aggregation, for new insights and key takeaways, and increased digital offerings with AR, VR and more. With Nate Stillman as new vp of new business, expect even further growth, especially in entertainment.
Handling Walmart’s Shareholders Meeting and its Holiday and Year Beginning meetings, along with work for Hilton Garden Inn, AutoZone and other heavyweights has led to 584 percent growth over five years for Leo. Executed 106 b-to-b events in 2016, and b-to-c business is expanding. Producing the KAABOO Del Mar festival (it’s also a part-owner); activating its corporate sponsorship and guest engagement gives the shop a unique perspective that benefits b-to-b and b-to-c clients. And with Southern hospitality roots, customer service is as important as creative services.
Like an AccuWeather for culture, Marcie Allen’s agency spots trends and talent long before others and incorporates them into breakthrough programs for clients. A new alliance with hip-hop agent Cara Lewis guarantees even more opportunities. In 2016, executed eight days of activations for new client Miller at Governors Ball and Austin City Limits, and opened the first West Coast flagship for AT&T with rapper Ludacris, helping to generate more than 35 million social media impressions. Forecast? Sunny.
What started as a creative shop by a few 72andSunny and Crispin refugees has become one of the best independent agencies on the It List. They say they are “a hybrid of strategic thinking, client services and seasoned production.” We say if every agency was this bold and fun to work with, we wouldn’t be able to play favorites like we’re doing with Magnetic. Smart, sassy and ready to push the envelope if you are ready to let them, like Hershey’s did when it reintroduced the updated TAKE5 bar to the market at SXSW.
Connects music with millennials through events, branded tours, content collaborations and on-site activations. Produced the 15th annual Honda Civic Tour featuring Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas, launched a collaboration for Honda Powersports with Aviator Nation and handled activations at Governors Ball and other fests for Honda and Waterloo Records. With new execs Ted Mico and David Siegel more innovation is on the playlist. Stay tuned.
Access to consumer data and retail connectivity from parent CROSSMARK and sister company PromoWorks gives campaigns a head start. An example: transforming Copa Univision’s annual soccer tournament into a top-tier event, delivering more than 34,000 registrations, 250,000 attendees and increased recognition among Hispanic-Americans. Recently launched a Marketing Werks Experiential Content service and a proprietary Advocacy Quotient to measure consumer advocacy is in the “werks.”
From mobile and retail to influencers and pop-ups, from design and build to execution and field operations… like an onion, you really have to peel back the layers to realize that Match is ready to get lit for your brand. One of the biggest experiential marketing agencies nobody knows is now one of the biggest experiential marketing agencies focused on bringing to life the OMG-so-totally-in “omnichannel” trend that replaced the now-so-totally-out “path to purchase” trend.
CORE 1: Buzz/Influencer Programs CORE 2: Sponsorship Activation CORE 3: Automotive Launches and Personal Drive Experiences
A few highlights from this busy shop: Designed and activated the Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg General Store pop-up in New York City; won Perrier’s global business and developed the Perrier ARTXTRA art program; created TD Bank Rooted In, a community program; won the college football program for Dos Equis; and began activating Jack Daniel’s House No. 7 in various cities. Also recruited a full-time Ph.D to develop Emotional Memory Design to map emotions that influence consumer behavior.
Globalization is the keyword at MKTG, which has grown from six offices to 32 in less than 18 months and in 2016 acquired companies in Toronto, Paris, Madrid, Dusseldorf and Mumbai. The integration of Team Epic gives MKTG (both owned by parent Dentsu Aegis) a full offering, from sponsorship identification, consulting and negotiation through to activation, all under one roof, while new MKTG Labs provides tech solutions to take it all to the next level.
Successfully rebranded as “The No Boundaries Experiential Marketing Agency,” which highlights two new agency branches: Moderne Media, with more than 250,000 curated locations for out-of-home messaging; and Moderne Strategy, which reaches consumers across a number of marketing verticals. Campaigns to promote PepsiCo’s Starbucks Frappuccino, Starbucks DoubleShot and Mountain Dew reached more than 40 festivals, achieved one million social media impressions and distributed lots of flavor.
2016 marked Momentum’s third straight year of double-digit growth and its second year for winning arguably the biggest win in sports and entertainment sponsorships, following up on its Verizon win by being named global AOR for SAP. Continues to push boundaries: With Verizon, it brought the first live-streaming Oculus Rift VR experience to the Indy 500 and for American Express and Golden State Warriors fans, the first IMAX live screening of an NBA game.
With one of the most creative strategy and ideation benches, one of the largest field forces and one of the most marquee client rosters, Mosaic stands among the elite. Maintains leadership status in the area of using content to create experiences and experiences to create content. Continues expanding into b-to-b events with strategies that are b-to-c-flavored. Still gets the “they’re the ones that did that sick Bud Light Whatever, USA campaign”—a sweet badge of honor that will take years to fade.
With one of the event industry’s highest client retention rates, some of the largest piles of experiential marketing awards and a line around the block of people begging to get hired—seriously—it’s still pretty bangin’ to be Motive, baby. If you lay awake at night dreaming of going bold, if you fall asleep during meetings with your current boring and uncreative agency, if you know you were meant for pure unadulterated experiential marketing greatness, we suggest you stop, drop and dial 303-302-2100. Like, right now. Ask for Rivington’s dad.
Continues to expand its focus on healthcare with Ascension Health and BCBSM, producing dozens of events for seniors enrolled in the Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan. Also increasing consumer events with multiple activations for Comcast, Flagstar Bank and AAA, while business meetings remain a strong focus. A proprietary attendee tracking and event dashboard is up and running, and consumers and business folks alike love MVP’s fully functioning giant smartphone for demonstrating apps.
After all these years, nobody knows who will be hot next like your pals at EM. This is def one to watch—and gets this year’s EM award for the newbie agency most destined for experiential marketing supremacy. With clients as different as Under Armour and Twitter, with activations as different as the US Open and CES and with campaigns landing in places as different as New York and Copenhagen, NA represents a new breed of creative experiential boutique that is able to ideate and scale easily. Take a look at this one. You won’t be disappointed
Need a large-scale program activated quickly, strategically and within budget? NCompass is your go-to, having mastered the ability to develop and launch global campaigns for major brands with world-renowned talent within weeks. And, it wins awards and surpasses goals, to boot. In 2016, it beefed up technology expertise and ROI measurement tools, all while executing a second epic blockbuster fan experience for Call of Duty and activating a 15-city drive-in tour for Adult Swim fans.
Probably best known for brand experiences at more than 2,200 college-related locations and for relationships with students and ambassadors in hundreds of markets, this “big man on campus” goes off-campus, too. It powered up last year’s immersive L.L. Bean Northern Lights Holiday experience, created an interactive event at Super Bowl LI for Touch by Alyssa Milano and launched the Razer Stealth computer with a gaming and VR tour. Now also offers design and fabrication services.
Continues to do what it does best—creative strategy, execution and measurement. Want proof? A series of b-to-b seminars to launch the Novo product line by visual display product maker Vivitek, a 10-week campaign to introduce Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails to African-American women that resulted in a 100 percent lift in the L.A. market and a sampling blitz for Community Coffee at 14 events over 11 days that jazzed up thousands of South Floridians.
Privately owned NEXT/NOW has transported people to the future, to virtual racetrack pits and to peaceful bioluminescent forests. It’s projection-mapped walls, floors, tables, sculptures, buildings and vehicles put fans in the shoes of their favorite athletes. With a toolbox that’s brimming with virtual and augmented reality, gesture, LED, holograms, facial tracking, multi-touch screens and more, NEXT/NOW connects people with brands in deeply immersive environments that dial up the “wow” factor.
CORE 1: Sponsorship Activation CORE 2: Mobile Tours CORE 3: Trade Show Programs
The Beverly Hills event agency now operates on the left and right, with the addition of its downtown New York City digs. Installed a new Ventures and Analytics Department focused on “crafting effective programs that collect relevant data and draw meaningful insights.” Also opened up an internal public relations capability that lets clients use NVE as the p.r. lead for events and other marketing channels. Expanded the sales and business development team in 2017, too.
An industry giant that’s hard to beat, producing more than 4,000 activation days for clients around the world in 2016 alone. Owns and operates more tennis events than anyone, handles the marquee golf event for 28-year client BMW, including the 12,000-square-foot BMW interactive experience, and 25-year global client MasterCard relies on Octagon to bring its Priceless platform to life. New clients are jumping on board, including NBA, adidas, Marriott and CVS.
CORE 1: Sponsorship Activation CORE 2: Global Event Programs CORE 3: Mobile Tours
FOCUS SPLIT: 50% B-to-C, 50% B-to-B CLIENTS INCLUDE: Allstate, Bank of America, BMW North America, Mastercard, Walmart WEB: octagon.com RFP CONTACT:Danielle Byrd, firstname.lastname@example.org
Creates fun, authentic, “I gotta tell my friends” events that get people talking about brands and remains true to its DNA—building memorable, shareworthy experiences. True story: More than one client has expressed interest in working at OBE. Established its roots in action sports and music, and is bringing the excitement of b-to-c to its growing b-to-b roster (Hello, Kashi’s “foodless” booth at Expo West). Opened new offices in 2016, and Chicago is on the way. Also growing: global reach for clients like JPMorgan Chase and a beefed-up Research & Insights practice.
With expanded strategic capabilities and three new vp-level strategists, including Kim Kopetz, who rejoined the agency after five years at Intel, Opus is well poised to serve clients in the ever-changing events arena. A new global technology events database called SIMON, provides databased insights on venues, calendars, pricing, sponsorship and more. Has transformed AWS re:invent from a burgeoning tech user conference into a “blue chip” cloud computing powerhouse.
This L.A.-based shop has grown from two people in an apartment office in 2013 to more than 20, and in 2016 activated at the Super Bowl, the Grammys, White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Coachella, E3, VidCon, ComiCon, CES and more. Flew 300 press to Squaw Valley to launch GoPro Hero5 and Karma products, garnering 4.5 billion impressions and scoring an Ex Award as well. Also doing more social media, p.r., influencer strategy and tech design than ever.
Executed events last year at the Daytona 500, the Super Bowl and the Indy 500 while managing Medtronic spinal surgeon training sessions and Trane Heating and Air Conditioning sales meetings year-round. Also handles the largest consistent display properties in the three largest domestic motorsport series and operates tours that travel the country in four tractor trailers to programs managed out of a single truck. Recently added virtual reality to its services.
Recent acquisition by Condé Nast connects Pop2Life to the latest trends and tastemakers, with access to the editors and audiences of Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Wired and more—a boon when it comes to developing ideas and killer creative. Among the offerings: crafting custom music partnerships between artists and brands that go beyond just writing a check, and managing personalized guest experiences that “pop” to life through sister company Ribyt, also acquired by the publishing giant.
Known for speed and the ability to deliver more with less, Propac is one of the few agencies with its own on-site warehouse and distribution center. Its Content On Demand service creates product images, names and copy to educate shoppers and drive conversion. Recent work: a Doritos Loaded sampling tour that drove awareness and buzz in five markets and 27 retail stores. With photo booths, samples, a “bad breathalyzer” test and artist meet and greets, fans loved Funyuns at Voodoo.
What was once one of the hottest up-and-coming b-to-b agencies has become cemented as one of the best b-to-b agencies on the It List. The lean roster of a few dozen provides one of the industry’s best rate cards. The creative team quarterbacked by cofounder Chuck “Chucky Baby” Santoro is always ahead of the curve with new ideas anchored by brand stories and narrative. And client services run by Marky “The Sharky” Shearon is high-touch, hands-on and feels like family.
A full-service experiential agency within Publicis Groupe, the agency formerly called PBJS, creates engagements as diverse as its clients. Its Elevate Summit for Uber brought together influencers in transportation and aviation to discuss the future of eVTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing). Also has its feet on the ground, executing activations that targeted NYC marathoners with Walmart’s new luxury-inspired bedding line, and Citibank, which actually got 30,000 outdoor-loving New Yorkers to rock climb and canoe in their Central Park “backyard.”
Recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies on the INC 500/5000 list seven times in the past eight years, its specialty is fitting brands into new sports and lifestyle landscapes. Created the largest spectator event ever at Navy Pier for the LV America’s Cup World Series Chicago; handled a 22-stop, 12-week PAW Patrol Tour for Spin Master; and a “glamping” experience for Goose Island took camping to a whole new level—beer included.
Specializing in media and entertainment, tech and CPG, Rubik handles pop-ups and sponsorship activations at SXSW, CES and Wanderlust, plus mobile tours and film screenings/premieres. With specialists in VR and AR, it’s also on top of tech trends, and a new cmo boosts client strategy. Brought Westeros to life in a multi-market promo for “Game of Thrones,” but the coolest thing ever—installing Japanese electronic toilets in a luxury bathroom for Why Him fans at SXSW. Hey, why not?
Is rooted in luxury wine and spirits, but has developed a wider portfolio of client brands and industries. A new Insights department focuses on consumer data, cultural trends and hidden truths; tactics include mobile device IDs and geo-fencing technology that delivers in-app notifications and web-based ad units to hyper-targeted audiences. Its Release The Kraken sampling program offered consumers a taste of the brand and reinforced the rum as the life of the party.
The fabrication and production roots. The global footprint. The expanding strategy team. The growing digital and technology department. A legit measurement and data unit. And a creative team now boasting more than 50 bodies. “I swear to you, no agency gives us ideas like Sparks does,” said one client. Is beefing up its continued dominance of b-to-b tech events while quickly expanding into new categories spanning beverage, QSR, kids/family and more. Keep it up, people.
The company that brought Bonnaroo and Outside Lands to life continues to craft experiences where brands can reach audiences with two new ventures: the recently launched Comedy Central Presents Colossal Clusterfest in San Francisco, and Lost Lake Festival in Phoenix. Also draped a music festival-style experience over Google I/O with a color, light and style that transformed the developers conference, and created a Super Bowl-style Intel Extreme Masters gaming event for 173,000 attendees.
Boasts 35 years of flipping the switch on award-winning field marketing programs, meetings and events, environments, brand marketing, and now adds expanded 3D animation graphics capabilities, drone video and VR to the mix. Recently developed okapi, a proprietary app for custom, cumulative field marketing data. NASCAR activations for Anheuser-Busch and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion’s Week, with physical Instagram frames, Snapchat face-swap banners, surprise prize drawings through Twitter and Facebook content got consumers revved up.
CORE 1: Sales Conferences CORE 2: Mobile Tours
CORE 3: AR/VR/360 Video
Whether it’s the World’s Largest Piñata for M&Ms or the first logo visible from space for KFC, Synergy stands up to the biggest marketing challenges. Has added festival production to its chops, leading planning and execution of the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival and managing content programming and events across 10 venues. Also handled the Reebok Road Trip to the Fittest Tour over 42 days at 30 events across 10,000 miles.
Founded in 1994 and re-branded in 2015 as T1, this agency means to put Thinking First. Has expanded services to include production, including video, to do new work for clients like AIR MILES and Dairy Farmers of Canada. Also has a new strategy team in place. Hot off the presses—a novel by ceo Mark Harrison focused on what sponsors want, and interim results for its 11th annual Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study.
Part of the MDC Network, Team has been in the business for nearly three decades. This integrated, one-stop shop, helped ACE Bakery launch in the U.S. with cool, customized trike and electric vehicle assets that it designed and produced, and got a taste for helping brands develop new product strategy as well as retooling strategy for existing brands. Landed new clients in telecom and healthcare and produced one of the most successful events in its history—Bacardi’s Tales of the Cocktail.
These 700 instigators who aren’t afraid to get “uncomfortable” hit the ground running in 2016—launching an ear-tuning campaign for Trulia with MC Hammer, helping concert enthusiasts with a relaxing break at Bonnaroo for State Farm, officially launching the largest college sports sponsorship activation program at 100 college campuses for Nissan and slamming dunks with the NBA for the “Most Dunktastic Time of the Year” and “Chinese New Year Secret Envelope.” With new hires and growth acquisitions, it’s still running strong.
Continues to conquer the world, producing events in Spain, Vietnam, Hungary and Taiwan for Microsoft. Also increased its presence at festivals, returning to SXSW, operating at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival on behalf of Nutrish and activating around Coachella with Golin and Mountain Dew. Is building on strong relationships in technology and health, increasing business with Constant Contact, MobileIron and Northwell Health, and expanding cutting-edge technologies like AR, VR and more.
For 86 years, Taylor has delivered award-winning programs, like its recent execution for Intel at CES. The 2016 auto show season was a banner one as Taylor took 11 clients to seven cities over six months with immersive experiences. Its “Wish it Forward” campaign for the Bank of Montreal Bicentennial gathered almost 12,000 wishes in the first three months. This year, it will build the interactive gallery at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, one of the most prestigious in the world, and its design studio in the heart of Toronto is pretty impressive, too.
Its 24,000-square-foot White Walls fabrication group sets TVG apart, along with increased investments in marketing, digital and content focus to bring influencer activation, content production and social/digital programs in-house. Created for YouTube a massive fabrication at VidCon 2016 and the convention’s largest executive/influencer lounge, as well as an after-party for the brand’s most successful stars and content creators. Also produced the 16-market launch of Microsoft’s Windows 10. And now offers commercial design, to boot.
Thinks big and executes even bigger, from the stage of a global conference to an annual shareholder meeting to a morning fundraising breakfast to protect the environment. Continues to focus on large- and small-scale exhibitions, events and video production, just doing it better than ever before. Work with the 100,000 Opportunities Coalition helps Starbucks and other organizations provide training and opportunity for disadvantaged youth. Also works with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
One of the original music marketing agencies (founded in 1986), Track has gone from matching artists with brands to socializing offline event activations, going all out in London with a program for Twitter @Wimbledon and producing a three-city tour with chef Michael Symon. Also ran onto the field for the Pepsi Super Bowl halftime show, managing Pepsi’s sweepstakes winner activation. Experience design combined with design and fabrication has now become part of Track’s core services toolbox.
CORE 1: Sponsorship Activation CORE 2: Music Concert Production CORE 3: Guerrilla/Street Marketing
With Edelman as its parent, entertainment, sports and lifestyle agency UEG has p.r. at its core, along with specialties in talent and influencer, content, rights and partnerships, communications and brand experience. Expanded the brand experience team to better support clients, opened a London-based office and boosted its in-house creative and strategy practice. With new f(IQ) proprietary tech, it’s set to research, identify, target and analyze audiences and influencers that shape pop culture globally.
Coming off a strong 2016, with more than 57 projects in 12 markets and more than 747,000 engagements, Wasserman is poised for continued growth. Its focus on aligning strategy and creative played out in the Microsoft Creator’s Lab at Super Bowl LI and the Samsung Experience at the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup. And we loved the Road to Rio Tour for the USOC with samba dancers, Olympic history and Sugarloaf Mountain replica.