The fine city of Atlanta, Georgia, hosted this year’s Ad Age Small Agency Awards. Always an excellent bellwether to the agencies that cut against the grain that holding companies have grooved out, this year’s winners packed a heavyweight punch and looked at where creativity will go next.
There are so many deserving winners—and we’re sharing a few that caught the eye.
Supernatural, Small Agency of the Year, Silver
This author will always want to talk about AI: especially the risks understandably associated with the tech. But here’s a place that’s made the tool rewarding in shaping creativity (without trying to hack it altogether).
The shop opened two years ago, uses its own Machine called Merlyn, which uses machine learning AI and a collection of other tools to accelerate the strategic and creative process to provide winning insights (and work) for a brand partner list that has included Google, travel site Kayak, rideshare service Zipcar.
All without making its staff of 20 feel replaceable: an ideal mindset for any workplace of any size.
Hat tip: Brian Bonilla
Atlantic, 1-10 Employees, Gold (Jerry)
It’s nice to put a name on the agency responsible for making a viral Super Bowl ad with the literal last Blockbuster location (Ed. note: in Bend, Oregon). Not only did they take a top honor back to NYC as a regional standout, their Cannes-winning Until the Bitter End locked down a Silver for Digital Campaign of the Year—and made their own livery cab service to pick up and drop off the who’s who that shows up to La Croissette.
Hat tip: Judann Pollack
Party Land, West, Silver
People just want to laugh sometimes. Is that too much to ask? For LA-based Party Land, their answer is an emphatic, “Say less.”
The six-year-old shop is behind work for Liquid Death (easily one of this modern era’s most distinct disruptors) as well as Drizly, and regional restaurant chains Dave’s Hot Chicken and The Habit Burger.
Hat tip: Tim Nudd
Pulp + Wire, Culture, Silver
It’s way easy to get caught up on the creative output when quite frankly—a place to work that puts psychological safety first will often yield standout results.
Think of Pulp + Wire, which won Silver at the Small Agency Awards: the Portland, ME–based shop boasts the likes of Allagash Brewery and Dr. Praegers in its clientele, but it’s heartening to see the employees consider the wholly woman-founded and owned shop a “dream place to work for” by its employees.
Society can be a nightmare, and we can always use more places like Pulp + Wire (and the rest of these winners) that bring out the best in us.
Hat tip: Adrianne Pasquarelli
Congratulations to all the winners and everyone who showed up to support Ad Age’s talent and leadership. Running this event is no small feat, and it’s one of the indies’ most important gatherings of the year.