Odysseus Arms Wins Gold at Adage Small Agency Awards
The ‘road less traveled’ has proven to be paved with gold for San Francisco ad boutique Odysseus Arms – a winner at AdAge Small Agency Awards 2014. Winning Gold for a Nationals agency sized 1-10 employees, the 9-person shop has become a go-to creative powerhouse for huge brands like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, YouTube, Ubisoft and Capital One.
Agency partners Libby Brockhoff (former founding partner and namer of Mother PLC in London) and Franklin Tipton (former ECD, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners) set out to create the agency of the future. Their strategically disruptive business model includes:
• - Mandatory gaming (all full-time employees are issued Xbox One)
• - Project focus as a way to earn AOR through great work
• - A formidable contractor talent pool including an “Army of Moms”
• - Leaner infrastructure, taking a page from new technology companies
• - 'Zero geography’, fostering long distance collaboration
Odysseus Arms has forged an agency culture that does not depend on Agency of Record wins or cavernous four-star offices. Rather, the agency is strategically equipped to excel on today’s fast-paced, hyper-creative, attention grabbing advertising projects.
“Our agile model reflects the times,” says Tipton. “You must love working with smaller budgets and quicker turnaround to have any fun.” Key to survival in an agency culture that does not rely on AOR is the ability to be “completely elastic,” notes Tipton. “We swelled to 30 people to launch the YouTube campaign,” he notes, adding that Odysseus Arms’ staff is bolstered by 45 freelancers, consultants, developers and small companies that work across the agency’s diverse portfolio.
YouTube’s national campaign was a great example of Odysseus Arms’ collaborative mien. Working alongside Google and Co:Collective, Odysseus Arms and its creative partners forged a compelling introduction to YouTube's growing cadre of self-made stars. The integrated campaign spanned broadcast, digital and OOH as well as a massive presence in search, display and video ads across Google's ad network. The project illustrated how the ‘Silicon Valley lean’ agency collaborates with a range of partners to produce complex, high profile campaigns for global brands.
Another project for Amnesty International, named Buzzfeed’s No. 2 Most Effective ad campaign, helped influence the White House—and subsequently, encouraged the U.N. to pass a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on April 3, 2013. Odysseus Arms launched Kickstarter-backed OUYA gaming console to over a million impressions using a deliberately controversial video as the centerpiece of a campaign that attracted over 40 media articles in 10 days.
Odysseus Arms’ formula is working. This year’s revenue is six times what the agency brought in in 2012. And huge global clients such as Microsoft keep calling - largely for the superlative creative. "We create an environment where you can really try things -- even fail too. That is the core of our agency,” says Brockhoff.