Media Agency of the Year 2020: Mindshare USA

Gold: Mindshare USA

Mindshare USA secured its spot as the Media Agency of the Year by embracing the challenges of 2020 and using them as an opportunity to reimagine the role of media, to assure that empathy is central to how it and its clients operate and to commit to making a meaningful societal impact. 

In concrete terms that has meant assuring that diversity, equity and inclusion is viewed as a business imperative with new programs such as company-wide unconscious bias training and a commitment to increasing BIPOC representation. Mindshare Collective, an employee resource group, has continued its work on product development, research and advocacy related to underrepresented groups. And Mindshare’s Precisely Human data strategy remains an industry leader regarding privacy and consumer ethics. 

The last year also presented immediate challenges. Mindshare’s leadership credits new CFO Will Graves for strategies that allowed the agency to avoid mass layoffs. The agency’s $500 million in new business was, of course, also helpful on that front.

Mindshare’s clients also depended on the agency to navigate the pandemic and the reactions to George Floyd’s murder. The Mindshare Recovery Dashboard helped them implement reopening and re-engagement strategies, with big picture insights and data from local markets. Mindshare worked with General Mills to elevate Black creators on TikTok, and a July activation with Dove included partnerships with Black-owned and supported media properties. 

One Mindshare employee describes the pillars of the agency as including “authenticity, passion and emotion.” Add them together and the result appears to be satisfied employees and loyal clients. 

Silver: Digitas

The past 18 months have seen substantial changes in Digitas’ leadership, but one constant remains its approach of assuring growth for clients by delivering a unified brand ecosystem. The strategy was put to the test in 2020 — and it passed with stellar results. With Chore Club and #MakeItTogether, Digitas quickly provided responses to the pandemic for Whirlpool and KitchenAid that sympathetically addressed the sudden shift to lockdown life. Later in the year the Maytag Sexiest Appliance Alive campaign provided a needed moment of levity.

Several new tools have been key to Digitas keeping its existing clients happy while also attracting new business. ConnectIQ measures factors such as intimacy, resonance, availability and utility to determine how important brands are in the lives of consumers. TRGR monitors external market factors to precisely time ad buys. And Fort Knox is an invaluable tool to catch fraudulent media impressions and boost clients’ bottom lines. 

Bronze: Essence

What comes to mind first when many think of Essence is its AOR relationship with Google, which helped fuel much of its growth. However, it now has AOR relationships with more than 60 brands including Airbnb, The Financial Times, T-Mobile and Target. Essence’s core selling points continue to be data science and analytics, paired with automation and regional hubs to create a globally distributed operating model. In 2020, the agency launched four new tools to assist with optimization and media planning. Given Essence’s 100% retention rate last year, a nimble data-driven agency appears to be exactly what its clients want.

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