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Revealed: The Drum Awards for Agency Business winners 2023

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By Thomas O'Neill | Managing editor

December 7, 2023 | 7 min read

NinetyEight has been named Agency of the Year in the less-than-10-staff category, Bickerstaff.734 is Agency of the Year for the 11-49 staff category, Amplify takes the title for agencies with 49-250 staff and Rocketmill is top in the 250+ category.

The team at Rocketmill enjoying their summer party

Rocketmill, the Agency of the Year in the 250+ staff category

As part of The Drum’s annual Awards Festival, today we celebrated The Drum Awards for Agency Business, which was broadcast live to the world from our studio in London.

NinetyEight, Bickerstaff.734, Amplify and Rocketmill all took home Agency of the Year gongs on the night. Here we take a closer look at why…

Agency of the Year (less than 10 staff): NinetyEight

NinetyEight is a digital marketing agency founded and run by a team of Gen Zs. Since 2020, the agency has been a pioneer in getting the voice of Gen Z at the forefront of digital marketing. Based in Los Angeles, NinetyEight operates virtually with a team of 6 members and clientele who are globally based. It has three main agency departments: client services, strategy & insights and social media.

In the past year, NinetyEight has won its biggest clients to date in Meta and Bumble. It has also bridged the gap to Gen Z for clients, including PepsiCo, Paul Frank, Turo and more. Its massive growth in clientele drove it to double revenue and client retention in 2022 from 2021.

What separates NinetyEight from other Gen Z Marketing agencies lies not only in its Gen Z team and founders but also in its proprietary Gen Z research community, the Koi Pond. Through the Koi Pond, it has delivered unparalleled qualitative insights for clients like PepsiCo and ThinkLA, six months ahead of top research companies like GWI. The Koi Pond has also guaranteed virality through content testing and feedback for clients like Paul Frank, whose TikTok audience it grew from 500 to over 90,000 followers in a year with $0 in media spend.

Agency of the Year (11-49 staff): Bickerstaff.734

In just three years, Ukrainian creative agency Bickerstaff.734 has reshaped industry standards while navigating challenges like the pandemic and Ukraine’s ongoing conflict.

Amid Russia’s invasion in 2022, it demonstrated resilience, achieving a remarkable 770.33% year-over-year increase in net revenue. Its unwavering commitment to customer-centric values resulted in an exceptional client retention rate exceeding 80%.

Transformative initiatives, such as rebranding Galychyna dairy, advocating for Ukraine’s defense through #FreeTheLeopards and exposing Russian crimes with a 6,000-page book, have made a profound impact.

During adversity, it raised funds for Ukraine’s defense, supported displaced youth and fostered unity through projects like Eurovision 2023’s #OpenYourHeartForUkraine.

Its innovative campaigns, such as ‘We Instead of Me’ and ‘Khortytsia,’ have earned it accolades. It has actively countered Russian propaganda, uniting Ukraine through regional renaming.

Prioritizing quality over quantity, it delivers personalized attention, hand-picked talent and a focus on team wellbeing. Its dedication to clients, talent and innovation set it on a promising trajectory in an ever-evolving industry.

Agency of the Year (49-250 staff): Amplify

An independent global creative agency specializing in experience and culture, the past year was Amplify’s best yet. It delivered 135+ high-profile campaigns across the world for brands such as Activision, Google, Lego, Nike, Pinterest, PlayStation and Polestar.

Its work was recognized with 36 global awards, including from Cannes Lions, The Clio’s and The Drum.

Its Young Blood research has helped it to dive into the people and cultures it is interested in, which enables it to make its work hyper-local as well as globally consistent.

As a founding member of Isla, it continues to help clients such as Google Polestar and Sky lead the way, applying its Sustainability Policy to help them achieve the minimum environmental impact.

It gained 54 new clients, including Activision, Bloomberg, Lululemon, Meta and Sonos. It surpassed the £50m turnover mark, representing £20m or 60% growth from 2021 (more than tripling in size since 2020).

It remains an excited and positive force in this ever-changing world, choosing to see opportunities where others see challenges.

Agency of the Year (250+ staff): Rocketmill

RocketMill is an independent performance marketing agency. Its team of 170 fuse technology with craft and performance with brand to create a full-service offering, bringing together media, creative, customer experience, data and technology specialists with a progressive mindset and a common purpose to drive business forward for its clients.

The result? 37% business growth (July 22-23), a 75% pitch-win rate, an 80% client retention and 15 new account wins in 2023 so far (bringing its total client number to 60).

You can read the full list of winners below and read the stories behind the winning work over on our Case Studies hub.

  • Global Development: TPT Digital

  • Health and Well-Being: Cactus

  • Marketing and Comms: Treacle

  • Best Place to Work: Precis Digital

  • Service or Business Innovation: Wavemaker Uk

  • Client Relations: HROC

  • New Business: Cyber-Duck

  • Business Growth: Cactus

  • Entrepreneur: Adam Clyne, CEO, Coolr

  • Thought Leader: Spiro

  • CEO: Adam Clyne, CEO, Coolr

  • Leadership Team: Cactus

  • Agency of the Year (less than 10): NinetyEight

  • Agency of the Year (11-49): Bickerstaff.734

  • Agency of the Year (49-250): Amplify

  • Agency of the year (250+): Rocketmill

The judging panel this year was headed up by Beth Ann Kaminkow, the global chief exec at VMLY&R Commerce, and Tim Hassett, the group chief exec at Unlimited. They were joined by agency leaders from across the globe, including Wunderman Thompson’s West Coast CEO Emily Chang, WPP Studio X’s global CEO Paul Marobella, FCB London chief exec Katy Wright and Mekanism’s president Michael Zlatoper. You can see the full list of judges and read their bios over on The Drum Awards hub.

The Drum Awards for Agency Business took place at The Drum Labs, our very own bar, event and film studio in central London. You can rewatch all of our Awards shows so far over on The Drum TV.

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