Creative Agency Of The Year: Giant Spoon

Earlier this year, to get fans excited about the final season of the Netflix hit show "Stranger Things," agency Giant Spoon used New York City's Empire State Building and its leading-edge light-show capabilities to take onlookers into the program's fantastical world.

Thousands of passersby witnessed the two-hour spectacle of a luminous fissure slowly cracking open on the 102-story building’s façade, appearing as a portal into the show’s mysterious alternate dimension known as the “Upside Down.”

According to the agency, it was the first time the building's owners allowed a third party to combine lights, sound and projection to create a fully immersive show. 

That’s the kind of big idea Giant Spoon is known for -- and it was just one of many that the agency came up with in 2022, prompting MediaPost to name it Creative Agency of the Year. It’s the fourth time that the shop has collected AOY honors from MediaPost since the agency was formed in 2013.

The Empire State Building experience was just one of 15 reality-bending activations that the agency coordinated around the world (in places like London, Prague, Mumbai, and Malaysia) to generate excitement for the series.

Combined, the global events generated over 190 million organic impressions and hundreds of press articles. More than 110,000 people watched the stunts in person, and thousands more followed along via digital live streams and social coverage.

The agency also pulled off another show-stopping activation at the 2022 South By Southwest festival in Austin, where it returned to an in-person gathering after a two-year COVID-related hiatus.

To promote the Paramount+ program "Halo The Series," the agency staged aerial drone shows during which 400 drones flew over Austin, creating formations including giant QR codes that when scanned brought onlookers to a trailer for the series.

Separately, the agency started a publishing operation to create the next iteration of Departures, the high-end American Express print magazine.

In its heyday, the publication reportedly generated $50 million in annual revenue. But by 2021, the magazine was losing traction as a print-first vehicle and Amex, then partnering with Meredith to publish it, ended the venture and shuttered the title.  

Then Amex turned to Giant Spoon to rebrand, revive and transform the publication into a digital lifestyle resource for its Platinum and Centurion cardholders.

Over the span of 8 months, Giant Spoon's in-house publishing team redefined the publication's mission as a trusted, taste-making confidante for the sophisticated global traveler. Branding, content strategy, and the operating model were completely overhauled for life in a re-envisioned digital ecosystem.   

A weekly newsletter, penned by agency editors, is the portal into the Departures world. The gated digital publication now sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each week, who return for inspiration, tips, and exclusive recommendations in travel, cuisine, style, wellness, and arts.  

The publication has once again become a revenue-generating business with over 200 ad campaigns. It reaches over 1.4 million cardmembers who spend around 9 minutes on the site per session.  

With the success of the partnership, Giant Spoon continues to transform itself — its new publishing arm has quickly evolved into a 50-person team comprising editorial, production, advertising sales, and account management. Look for more projects from the agency in the “brand as publisher” space.

The agency -- now with a team of 135 and revenue in 2022 of $42.5 million -- has evolved in other areas, expanding beyond its creative, media, and event-focused roots. It recently launched an audio strategy unit that has worked with Pearson, the New York Mets, and iHeart media.

The firm is also beefing up its media practice with enhanced performance-media solutions and advanced data and analytics capabilities. Omnicom alum Darrell Jursa recently joined the agency as executive vice president/platforms and data to lead that effort.

The agency is also investing more in its social offering. Kristin Maverick (formerly of 360i) joined in May as executive vice president, social strategy. She is tasked with expanding the practice in a bid to compete with the largest social-first agencies.

Creative is in the agency’s DNA, but it is doubling down on additional talent to vie for larger creative accounts and for lead creative agency roles.  Industry veteran Noel Cottrell recently joined as Partner, Creative Chair, having previously served as Chief Creative Officer at VMLY&R’s New York office.  

The shop had a big year in business development, adding 18 new accounts including Amazon, Savage X Fenty, Petco and Kate Spade. It has also expanded assignments with clients like Amex, which added Resy to its remit. 

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