It’s no secret that many ad shops have suffered greatly during the pandemic. But Cincinnati-based independent media and marketing agency Empower has been able to buck the trend with a series of account wins in recent months — all done remotely — with total media spend of over $100 million.
As a result, it has been hiring staff — upwards of 10% to its team of 200 — and has avoided layoffs and furloughs.
Wins since the second quarter include national brands like GoDaddy and regional retail powerhouse Conn’s Home Plus with estimated media spend of $48.3 million and $35 million respectively.
The agency also won assignments from plumbing supply giant American Standard ($18 million) and The Body Shop ($1.4 million). Existing client Pet Smart also expanded Empower’s remit with the addition of its digital assignment, adding about $3 million to a total media account of nearly $80 million. All spending estimates are from Kantar.
The agency, which refers to itself as the “the Un-Holding Company,” has also done some brand refreshing to punctuate that positioning. That effort includes a new website design produced in-house. The new look, tone and feel is designed to emphasize the people-inspired spirit of the agency.
“We must continue to be our clients’ strongest allies,” said president and chief operations officer, Rob FitzGerald as he announced in March that the agency would be working remotely until further notice. “We want to keep our talent and support our people by providing flexibility and peace of mind. We’re planning for the long haul. Our future will not be dependent on quarterly financials.”
The agency can point to data that shows its team has been more productive in WFH-mode than previously. Ironically, it was just a short time before the COVID-19 crisis that the agency completed a new 45,000 foot flagship office building in Cincinnati.
For now the staff continues to work from home but the office will reopen at some point. “There is no reason to rush back until team members can safely collaborate in person like we’re used to,” says agency CEO Jim Price.
Empower is currently hiring at both its Chicago and Cincinnati offices. Now in its second year of operation, Empower Chicago just crossed the 30-person threshold.
Beside its recent account wins clients include Tempur Sealy, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, TriHealth, Brooks Running, Wendy’s, GNC and many others.