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Winner: Hot Paper Lantern (Independent)
In September, 2018, Peppercomm co-founder and CEO Ed Moed left the agency after 24 years to start a new venture — an affiliate agency called Hot Paper Lantern — with Ted Birkhahn, a 20-year Peppercomm vet who had most recently served as president. The idea: launch a thoroughly modern agency designed to help brands thrive in a digital economic. The opportunity: be a well-rounded client partner with a model that integrates strategy, technology, communications and culture – all with the goal of creating, telling and measuring the impact of brands’ stories.
Brand marketing and communications is at the heart of HPL, whose ultimate goal is to help clients craft compelling messages, design the best experiences and tell their stories through the channels that have the greatest impact on their audiences. The agency, however, goes beyond those core competencies to shepherd brands in the throes of change. The firm provides business consulting, working closely with clients to further their understanding of the intersection of business and brand transformation. When it comes to technology, HPL uses tools to unlock new ideas, drive innovation and deliver results.
Since its launch, HPL has grown its revenue to $9.1m and its headcount to 38 full-timers. The growth in part down to the addition of new clients in 2019 including XPO Logistics, Trade Fan, Toptal, Windsor Vineyards and Cysurance. The lift in revenue is also due to expanding services for existing clients Facebook and Saint-Gobain. The year also saw the launch of HPL Digital Sport, a specialty practice for digital and fantasy sports clients, and the HPL Fantasy Sports Loyalty Index, which surveyed more than 1,000 daily fantasy bettors measuring their loyalty to the top daily fantasy sports websites . The firm also launched the HPL Crisis Response Index, a body of research that analyzed how 80 companies communicated during a significant crisis event, showing how the timing, tenor and quality of a company's response is directly linked to the performance of its stock price over the short-and long-term. — DM
Alex Daly launched her eponymous firm in 2018, after four successful years galvanizing support for crowdfunding campaigns through her previous company, Vann Alexandra. Having raised $20m for the likes of Neil Young. TLC, filmmakers and authors, Daly created the agency with the goal of keeping the communities that supported them active and engaged post-fundraising, with a focus on initiatives that are quicker, more flexible and more intimate than traditional campaigns, peppered with the best aspects of communications and marketing disciplines.
As a community builder, Daly's vision is for her agency’s community to unearth, understand and share the untold stories of the people and companies it supports. Every client is bigger than just one story. True to its roots, Daly continues to have a crowdfunding offering, working with project creators to build communities of enthusiasts from the ground up. Daly has five fulltime employees on board including Ally Bruschi, a former book publicist who leads the firm’s communications arm, all of whom support a growing and varied client roster including Tinder, Playgirl, Penguin Random House, Cannondale, Pentagram, EQ3, Heilala Vanilla, Freitag, Girls' Night In and Subway Book Review. — DM
In September 2018, five former Sard Verbinnen & Co. colleagues banded together to launch Reevemark, a corporate and financial firm based on the idea of providing clients big agency expertise in reputation and value in a boutique setting. In the time since, Brandy Bergman, Hugh Burns, Paul Caminiti, Renée Soto, and Delia Cannan, have grown their business by delivering on three core goals: providing candid and results-oriented strategic communications counsel, developing quality content and delivering favorable outcomes for clients. As a result, Reevemark has more than doubled in size to 14 full-time employees, including individuals with backgrounds in law and business, and has grown its client base to more than 60 since its launch. 2019 saw Reevemark winning new business from Simon Property Group, Payless ShoeSource, Sorrento Therapeutics and Gulfport Energy. They join an impressive roster of existing clients such as Bausch Health Companies, Chesapeake Energy, Bristow Group, The Children’s Place and former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Hallmark work in 2019 included Reevemark’s handling all communications surrounding Simon Property Group’s acquisition of mall REIT Taubman Centers, valued at $3.7bn in equity and total enterprise value of almost $10bn. Reevemark handled communications around the bankruptcies of two high-profile companies — Payless and the helicopter operator Bristow. The firm also represented Low Taek Jho, who is alleged to have been at the center of the 1MDB scandal along with executives from Goldman Sachs. Reevemark executed strategies in the US and directed UK, Australia and Hong Kong teams, coordinating responses to developments globally, resulting in significantly more positive coverage. In October 2019, Low’s legal team reached a historic global settlement resolving all civil forfeiture actions in the US. Reevemark helped frame this development as the result of good faith negotiations. — DM
The Sway Effect (Independent)
Last July, Jennifer Risi stepped down from an eight-year career at Ogilvy to launch The Sway Effect, operating under a business model built to foster alliances, as well as diversity and inclusion — and with the hope of impacting the communications industry in the process. The idea: create a network of agencies with a range of expertise beyond PR and comms, to address broader client needs. Risi works particularly closely with Mitch Markson, head of Markson IdeaCraft, and Anne Madison, Head of 357 Communications, and an extended network that includes Bonin Bough, Good Scout’s Phil McCarty and Maven & Muse’s Parris Bowe among others.
The Sway Effect’s non-traditional approach in the way it handles communications for its clients, which includes working with brands to integrate diversity and inclusion into all aspects of their business, is working. In less than a year, the firm has secured more than $1.5m in billings, adding Becton Dickinson, Betches and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), who join such launch accounts as the World Travel and Tourism Council, which uses Sway Effect as its global agency of record. The Sway Effect also works with PWC as a strategic communications partner on a wide variety of their projects, the first of which was on change management for the Fox technology team following 21st Century Fox’s deal to sell half of its movies and TV business to Walt Disney. — DM
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