Welcome to Independent Insights, a regular series that features interviews with independent agency leaders across the country. This week we’re featuring a Q&A with Jenifer Anhorn, executive vice president, business development at Minneapolis-based agency, Periscope.
Periscope is a Midwestern powerhouse, driving business results for household names like Target, Welch's, Best Buy, and Buffalo Wild Wings, as well as local and regional brands like Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins and haircare chain Great Clips.
In January, the agency expanded its capabilities by adding a new task force, their 'Connected Experiences' team, which they hope will redefine user experience as the digital and physical worlds continue to merge. This year, the agency had the unique opportunity to add its flavor to the Twin Cities during Super Bowl week, using it to stack a few trucks for grocery chain Schwan's for a heavy-duty tailgate trivia competition.
Anhorn is currently in her second stint with Periscope, which has now expanded to Chicago, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Dehli. After her first 16 years there, she went on to be the chief marketing officer for the Papa Murphy’s chain of restaurants, before returning home. Now as the executive vice president of business development, she uses her experience to boost the agency’s visibility and to establish its new business strategy.
The Drum asked Anhorn what it’s like to work on projects for clients the Super Bowl’s host city leading up to the big game, as well as the benefits of gender-balanced leadership and what being in the Midwest adds to the agency’s independence.
How does being in the Midwest add to the Periscope identity?
We’ve always prided ourselves on our independence, and I think to an extent our “Minnesotan” persona comes with that. Minneapolis itself has a vibrant creative market with top talent, 18 Fortune 500 companies, and endless cultural and artistic opportunities. A big benefit of being located here in the heartland is that we can be on the leading edge of innovation, and in tune with what the coasts are up to, without losing sight of what drives everyday people and what they find meaningful.
You’ve helped many brands hone their voice earlier in your career. How has it helped Periscope stand out in a sea of agencies?
Having the experience of being on both the agency and client side has definitely helped me realize the importance of differentiation. Periscope grew with a very modest personality but has found a powerful voice in recent years celebrating our independence, integration and the impactful work we are doing for our clients.
The number of women in executive roles is still very low. Does it benefit Periscope having both male and female voices in every major agency decision?
The quality of the people around the table and the experience each of them brings is what we focus on. Each person on our executive team has years of expertise and brings thoughtful, intricate insight that helps guide Periscope. We encourage diversity of thought because it leads to better and more creative results.
The Super Bowl is out in Minneapolis this year, home to Periscope. How different is it being involved in the festivities versus more regular client work?
Having the Super Bowl here in Minneapolis has been a creative dream – we get to showcase brands on a national scale. For example, we helped create a 40-foot high stack of three delivery trucks with Schwan’s at the Super Bowl live area in downtown Minneapolis. The chance to do something truly memorable and create an experience means that brands are making riskier, more out of the box moves all in the name of the big game.
Periscope has an especially unique vantage point being so close to the stadium, and we’re even hosting a brand activation for Hallmark. Everyone is looking to get in on the biggest marketing event of the year, and there have been some really creative ways of doing so.
What qualities stand out when you’re hiring Periscope employees?
We want people who are fearless. We love self-starters who are hungry to do new things and work collaboratively with different disciplines. We want people that have a deep passion for what they do but can bring a unique and fresh perspective to problem-solving. That’s the number one goal for us – hire people who do what they love and love what they do.
What challenges do you think independent agencies face in this rapidly evolving industry. What’s Periscope doing to keep with the current?
Independent agencies are facing the same challenges as every other agency – the media and consumer landscape is changing, technology is pushing boundaries in good and bad ways, and client needs evolve with all of that. There are a lot more opportunities out there for us as an independent, as we can invest ahead of the curve and offer innovative solutions that are truly best for our clients. Staying on top of the trends and helping our clients take risks to further their work is how we stay ahead.
Independent Influence is supported by Choozle, an independent digital advertising platform.