As Amplify approaches its 10th anniversary next year, it can look back on its 2017 performance with pride. Not only has it managed to show the world that it can produce large-scale events, but also that it can keep creativity at its core and continue growing as a business, making it a worthy winner of Brand Experience Agency of the Year.
There were plenty of highlights for founder Jonathan Emmins and his team, who delivered the agency’s largest production at the Paris Games Week event in November. It created a stand for founding client PlayStation that took over an area of more than 3,500 square metres. The agency gave the space a glow with neon touchpoints, and hosted a live-streamed tournament as well as a VR experience for Netflix show Stranger Things.
Scale can often lead to some agencies falling short on creativity, but not Amplify. This year’s highlights included securing Academy-award-winning composer Steven Price and Abbey Road’s Grammy-winning producer Giles Martin to re-score the soundtrack for a Sonos competition winner’s film.
Amplify’s aim was to make the smart-speaker brand famous for enhancing the sound in film as part of the launch of the Sonos Playbase, a wireless soundstage. The film premiered with the soundtrack performed by a 58-piece orchestra to an audience of 200 people. The event closed with an interview and a live selection of Price’s film and TV work.
Elsewhere, Amplify created "The Meeting Place" for bourbon brand Jack Daniel’s. This was a Tennessee pop-up, with a "honky-tonk" vibe, serving whiskey cocktails and southern barbecued food, accompanied by live music. It was aimed at millennials in Birmingham, London and Glasgow.
The Rowntrees "Taste Tour", meanwhile, was a brightly coloured, factory-style pop-up, featuring a "sushi belt" of the confectionery brand’s reduced-sugar products, bringing innovation to a classic sampling exercise.
Amplify hasn’t fallen short on the new-business side either. The agency secured six new clients in Spotify, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Nestlé and MTV, which represents business worth £3.6m. Work for Spotify, featuring a gig around its "Who we be" grime playlist, kicked off at London’s Alexandra Palace at the end of November.
This stellar year has brought 11% year-on-year growth for Amplify, taking it to a turnover of £12.8m. Headcount rose slightly, to 60. Among those to join was Jeavon Smith, the former Jack Morton Worldwide creative director, vice-president, who is now Amplify’s executive creative director.
As part of Emmins’ plans to bolster Amplify’s youth marketing credentials, he bought a parity stake in specialist shop Seed, on the back of a two-year partnership. The agencies continue to run as independent businesses, but have the scope to work more closely on clients.
After nine years of hard work, Emmins has built up an agency that this year forced bigger rivals to sit up and listen.
The McCann Worldgroup agency gave Amplify a run for its money. Work highlights include its Mobile World Conference activity – GSMA Innovation City – which attracted 120,000 people, and its "#uptomischief" campaign for Purina cat-food brand Felix. The latter featured an AR version of feline brand character Felix, who surprised commuters at Waterloo station.
The agency says its business has grown by 20% this year, as it continued to work with long-standing clients such as Asda and UPS.
The independent agency says 2017 has been its best year to date, with work spanning a fashionable approach for Moschino and Magnum in a pop-up in Covent Garden, where people could customise their ice-creams, to creating a cocktail bar on a barge for Campari.
Hot Pickle also reduced its dependency on major client Unilever, which has been cutting promotional spend, by picking up new business from Hovis and Guinness, among others.
The Dentsu Aegis Network agency showed its innovative credentials by creating smart benches to help people stay connected while out and about. MKTG installed 23 branded benches for Cancer Research UK, enabling people to charge their phones, connect to Wi-Fi and donate to the charity.
In terms of new business, MKTG added Mondelez brand Cadbury to its portfolio, for which it negotiated a sponsorship deal for football’s Premier League.
This year the independent agency created a buzz around Lego by "mixing reality and fantasy", teaching families a martial art inspired by Spinjitzu, as featured in the Lego world of Ninjago, and setting them "missions".
The agency, which launched as a PR shop nine years ago, also picked up new experiential clients, including Warner Bros, Netflix and Audible. In May, PrettyGreen changed its structure to become more client-focused.
Founded in 2012, the agency clinched the Grand Prix at 2017’s Event awards for Nike’s "Strike Night". As the most-watched online football event of the year, it was deemed by the awards’ judges to be a transformational event that set a new bar for brand experiences. XYZ also posted strong growth in 2017, with new business from Nyetimber, Converse and Sony.