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26 March 2017

2017 began in unimaginable style; Trump’s inauguration hypnotised us while the way forward after the Brexit continued to heat debate in parliament, boardrooms and kitchens. The global economy meanwhile, didn’t seem to be listening, as it surged ahead with a period of unexpected growth. The first quarter of 2017 has seen an unprecedented number of new agencies enter the market. We take a look at the best of the bunch…

WPP Head Martin Sorrell predicted steady consolidation with a similar growth of 3% as 2016. He said; "The impact of Trump, it's so difficult to figure out. You go to bed one night and there's a phone call from Taiwan. My bet would be this is better than people expected for the U.S. economy. Clearly Trump is good for business, and I would say that's definitely so in the short to medium term."

Echoing that sentiment the first quarter of 2017 has seen an unprecedented number of new marketing agencies entering the market. Here are the top 10 marketing start-up agencies turning heads this quarter:

Top 10 marketing start-up agencies – Quarter 1 2017

1. Satellite75 - Content and SEO - UK

Created by former FCB Inferno interactive and innovation director, Paul Blundell, and Roman Gaponenko, (pictured) former digital strategist at Weber Shandwick, Satellite75 will focus on helping clients become effective content marketing organisations by bringing together strategy, production and the distribution of data-driven content. The offering will revolve around creating co-located project teams based within a client’s organisation as a direct extension of their existing team.

Paul Blundell was previously at Digitas, Dare, BMB and FCB Inferno. Roman Gaponenko previously led the social and content strategy for the Olympics and was head of social for FCB Inferno and led digital strategy and social crisis capabilities for Weber Shandwick.

Paul Blundell said; “Clients are demanding ever greater speed, agility and cost effectiveness, while still expecting great creativity from their agencies. The old agency-client model was never designed to meet all these needs. Satellite75 is built from the ground up to meet these challenges – embracing new working cultures and leaning heavily on tech to deliver for clients in this new landscape.”

2. Deviate Digital – Music industry Digital - Global

Digital specialist Sammy Andrews has launched Deviate Digital, a full 360 digital service for the music industry.

Deviate Digital will look to offer a wide range of creative digital services, from social marketing campaigns, media buying, fan base establishment and engagement, streaming strategies and asset creation. The team will also offer training days and high level advisory to both small and large organisations.

Andrews was formerly director of data and analytics firm Entertainment Intelligence (and remains on the board as a non-executive director). Andrews spearheaded Let’s Be The Change a music industry initiative aimed at promoting diversity at music industry conferences.

3. After the Whistle – Sports Marketing - USA

Chicago media executive Jimmy DeCastro launched After The Whistle, a sports marketing company and representation firm.

The new agency will be a sister company of the syndication and new media company, The Content Factory. DeCastro was formerly president and general manager of Tribune Broadcasting news. He said; “Let the games begin!”

After The Whistle will represent college football and basketball coaches as well as media personalities. It will specialize in contract negotiations, branding, creative services, career planning, media training, imaging design, and production analytics to build, amplify and develop clients’ unique brands.

4. Ansible – Marketing - Phillipines

IPG Mediabrands launched specialist, full-service mobile marketing and technology agency Ansible in the Philippines. Bridging the gap between tech and creative Ansible offers strategy, media planning and buying, marketing and analytics as well as UX, creative, technology, development and enterprise solutions.

Ansible will be led by Jay Arellano as Managing Director. He said; "In an ever-complex and fragmented ecosystem, coupled with the rapid rise of mobile, the launch of Ansible provides the tools and capabilities to help clients navigate the mobile marketing landscape and drive into the future."

Clients have access to global mobile publisher rates, exclusive technology partnerships, proprietary mobile media planning tools, best practices and patented technologies including "HARKTM" a second-screen gaming technology and the "MiBeaconsTM" platform that allow brands to leverage location-based advertising.

5. Pilgrim Marketing – Brand activation - UK

Andrew Marsden, former Britvic marketing director, has launched Pilgrim Marketing, an experiential and shopper marketing agency.

Based in central London, the agency aims to combine business strategy and brand positioning with creativity and research and will focus on shopper marketing and experiential campaigns.

The agency has been in soft launch mode since last year but has marked its official launch this month with the announcement of its board which includes Jim Sewell, former group sales and marketing director of Alternative Networks; Toby Moore, the former founding partner of shopper marketing agency Mesh Marketing; Laura Auchterlonie, creative lead on campaigns for Skittles, Wall’s Ice Cream, Courvoisier and Coke and; Rob Waddington, a veteran market researcher, who will lead Pilgrim’s campaign effectiveness testing and research and insight.

Marsden said; "Clients certainly don’t need yet another run-of-the-mill breakaway creative agency. Pilgrim’s unique combination of senior ex-clients and agency leads means we really get the consumer and trading challenges today's brand owners face, and can then bring their brands to life from strategy to store in more powerful, relevant and creative ways along the path to purchase."

6. Madras Brand Solutions – Digital marketing - Global

Madras Brand Solutions is a global creative and content agency. It aims to overcome the prime obstacle faced by marketers today – developing marketing solutions that are both innovative and cost-effective – by replacing the linear agency-client model with a continuous engagement.

Headed by Fred Schuster, former CEO of WPP’s Redworks and IPG's Craft Worldwide, Madras launches with 1,100 employees on three continents. He said; "We believe great brands are leaving too much value on the table. Whether it's due to cost, timing or inefficiency, there are brilliant tactics and ideas that deserve to be seen and experienced, yet most of them are left behind.”

Madras believes agencies today are designed to be too front loaded, meaning that by the time strategy and ideas come to life, there is little time or budget left over for amplification.

Madras comes out of parent company The Ad2pro Group, which combines tech-enabled, content delivery with high quality, high volume work.

7. Talker Tailor Trouble Maker – PR - UK

Founded by M&C Saatchi alumni Gary Wheeldon and Steve Strickland, the creative communications agency boasts some unique innovative features. Clients can take advantage of an online shop which allows the public to buy their goods and services via the Talker Tailor website. Senior team includes ex-M&C Saatchi PR New York MD Laura Hall and Ian Edmondson, ex-News of the World assistant editor, who has joined as a director.

Wheeldon said; “We are truly committed to creating a business that does not white label or whitewash. We will put mutuality at the heart of everything we do.”

8) Bountiful Cow – Media – Global

Under the leadership of Henry Daglish, the former managing director of Arena Media, Bountiful Cow is sister agency to The7stars.

The7stars is named after a London pub called Seven Stars in Holborn, where the independent agency’s co-founders plotted its launch in 2005, and Bountiful Cow is the name of its sister pub, also in Holborn. 

Jenny Biggam, a co-founder of the7stars, said the agency wanted to launch Bountiful Cow because it did not want the7stars itself to get too big. She said; "The intentions are to create an organisation that directly challenges the current status quo of the media industry, including the lack of transparency and trust between agencies, clients and in many cases their own talent."

9. Blackwood Seven - AI - Denmark & UK

Danish artificial-intelligence media agency Blackwood Seven has expanded globally with the opening of a UK office. Henrik Busch, co-founder of Blackwood Seven, will head the London operation.

Blackwood Seven uses algorithms and predictive analytics to plan and optimise a client’s media buying, using 82 data sources ranging from Nielsen and YovGov to clients’ historic sales information and the weather.

Carl Erik Kjaersgaard, the chief executive and co-founder, said its software platform was "transparent" because it charges a fixed monthly service fee, rather than a percentage of billings, and is efficient. He said; "You can take our platform into any media agency and then take out one third of the staff.”

10. Hysell Marketing – entertainment marketing - USA    

Tony Award winning producer and award-winning Broadway marketer Hugh Hysell launched Hysell Marketing, a new marketing agency specialising in live entertainment marketing.

Previously, Hysell led the North American Arts and Theater division of GrouponLive and ran HHC Marketing where he led marketing campaigns for more than 200 Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Hysell is a Tony Award®-winning Broadway producer, award-winning marketer and actor.

He currently serves on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Multicultural Diversity Action Committee and has provided pro bono services to Broadway Cares Equity Fights Aids, HRC, GLAAD and The Commercial Theater Institute. He is a founding member of The Off Broadway Alliance and currently serves as a Nominator for the Off Broadway Alliance Awards.