No. 1 in Advertising and Marketing
13,969.5% Three-Year Growth
Revenue: $17.9 Million
CEO: Raj Prasad
Overall RANK: No. 5
San Francisco wdfamarketing.com
The way he tells it, Raj Prasad mostly hung out with gangbangers growing up south of Oakland, California. Improbably enough, Prasad resolved at 16 to embark on a career in advertising. Lacking connections but armed with the yellow pages, he started dialing. He pleaded for an internship with every advertising agency listed. When he heard no from every firm, he started again at the beginning. Overstreet Associates finally took him on and kept him through high school and college to beyond his 25th birthday. After a falling-out with his longtime mentor at Overstreet, Prasad, along with three partners, founded WDFA, a laid-back, street-savvy San Francisco creative marketing firm named for an abbreviation that stands for the R-rated version of We Don't Fool Around. 'We don't do TV. We don't do radio. We hit the ground and target ideal consumers at the neighborhood level,' Prasad, now 29, says. That means 400 'micromarketing' campaigns a month, employing street promotions and door-to-door campaigns as well as flash mobs and guerrilla tactics. For instance, one campaign included a demographically targeted brand ambush, in which WDFA peppered a San Francisco train route with people in bright-blue shirts bearing the logo for a tattoo lotion. Once commuters exited the train, the campaign followed them: Sidewalks and building walls bore the logo in chalk and on stickers, posters, and wall projections.