Ad agency 72andsunny had the audacity to suggest Samsung might be cooler than Apple--and won over plenty of fans in the process.
Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA
Year Founded: 2004
When 72andSunny landed Samsung as a client in 2011, the ad agency went straight after the 800-pound gorilla in the smartphone market: Apple.
72andSunny developed a string of ads that poked fun at die-hard iPhone fans who wait hours to buy the latest version of the device. In the commercial series titled "Fan Boys" Apple fans camp out waiting for the latest iPhone to be released, but grow jealous of the superior features of Samsung's Galaxy SIII.
At one point, an iPhone user ribs a Samsung customer as he waits in line with the Apple crowd. "I see you finally made the switch," says the Apple fan. No, replies the Samsung user. He's just saving a spot in line--for his out-dated parents.
The "Fan Boys" campaign and its successor "Unicorn Apocalypse," which encroaches on Apple's image as the product of choice for creative techies by depicting a group of developers planning to launch their latest video game using Samsung devices, were funny and wildly successful. One of the "Fan Boy" videos was among the top 10 most-watched ads in 2012, according to analytics firm Visible Measures. In the wake of these campaigns, Samsung surpassed Apple in global smartphone sales with more than 215 million units sold last year.
CEO John Boiler attributes his agency's success to its razor sharp sense of humor--and nice-guy attitude. "One of the biggest weapons we have on behalf of our clients is that we're not afraid to provoke conversation," he says. "But you don't have to be a jerk."
72andsunny aims to pass these values on to the next generation of admen and women through an in-house communications school called 72U. The 12-week program is an accelerator of sorts for aspiring communications strategists at all stages of their careers and education and seeks to disseminate the ad agency's particular brand of storytelling and creative culture.
“We’re trying to build the kind of people who would flourish in our company," Boiler told The New York Times in March. "People who will be effective, well-rounded marketers." He explained that another goal of 72U is to counter the "siloed" atmosphere of many agencies, in which employees specialize in either creative work or account management and are expected to wear only one hat.
In other words, at 72andsunny great ideas are born of an overlap between disciplines. And it looks like they're onto something: In 2013, the company--whose other clients include big names like Nike, Call of Duty, and the Discovery Channel--snagged the title of Advertising Age's agency of the year.
FRANCESCA FENZI reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle. @FrancescaFenzi
APRIL JOYNER is a reporter for Inc. magazine. She regularly covers sales and marketing topics and writes on start-ups for Inc.’s Elevator Pitch column. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. @aprjoy