CINCINNATI (September 17, 2020) – While the advertising industry as a whole is experiencing its fair share of doom and gloom headlines due to the business implications of COVID-19, one independent agency, in particular, is overriding that script.
Empower: The Un-Holding Company swiftly acted on its fundamental competitive advantage in the face of an unraveling pandemic – clients first; not shareholders.
“We must continue to be our clients’ strongest allies,” said president and chief operations officer, Rob FitzGerald as he announced on March 12, 2020 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.”
This level of transparency underscored the level of trust among leaders and staff. And it’s paying off.
Since Q2, Empower added The Body Shop, American Standard, GoDaddy and Conn’s HomePlus to its client roster. The company also expanded its relationship with existing client PetSmart to include digital responsibilities.
“We are impressed with Empower’s sophisticated approach to retail marketing as evidenced by how the agency’s navigated their other retail clients in the complex COVID-19 climate,” said Eddie Combs, Chief Marketing Officer at Conn’s HomePlus. “We’re confident Empower’s use of data to target people throughout the customer journey paired with the agency’s proprietary tools in the intelligence space will up our game on measurement and attribution in ways we’ve never experienced,” he said.
Virtual pitches are feeling just as seamless as the live ones according to the Business Unit Leads across Empower. This is accredited to the chemistry and culture of the 200+-person media agency. In fact, financial reports show that staff has been 8% more productive since working remotely.
In addition to winning new clients and keeping current clientele happy and successful, Empower’s brand development and product innovation teams are thriving.
Empower’s Brand Lab created and launched All In Together bracelets benefiting COVID-19 relief with 700 units sold in its first week. Brand Lab’s latest product to go to market is Tanon, selling premium, personalized leather goods. Empower’s Brand Lab is strategically focused on DTC products to better understand the emerging category and advise the agency’s clients who are competing with these types of brands more and more every day.
Leading the charge innovating new agency products is Chief Product Officer Ryan Derrow, who is responsible for building and launching Empower’s Media Agent amid COVID-19. Media Agent is designed to be a service as a software where technology and AI help deliver excellence in media planning, buying and reporting through streamlined execution from media experts. It has proven to be a great fit for franchisee and licensee models that may migrate to Empower’s full-agency service as their business grows and becomes more complex.
With so much remote productivity, does this mean Empower’s new 45,000 sq. ft. office building is a thing of the past?
“No,” says CEO Jim Price, “but there is no reason to rush back until team members can safely collaborate in person like we’re used to.”
Successfully avoiding furloughs or layoffs, Empower is actively hiring in both Chicago and Cincinnati offices. In fact, Empower Chicago just crossed the 30-person threshold in just its second year. In total, Empower has welcomed 22 new hires across the agency in 2020.
Despite so much uncertainty surrounding the impact of COVID-19, one thing at Empower is for certain: employees are happy. A recent culture survey showed an overall 77 percent extremely positive rating on the culture and happiness at Empower. The overall Net Promoter Score was 44 percent, which is also quite high. Subsequent inquiries and surveys about how people are faring remotely have also produced extremely high satisfaction scores.
Empower has also used this time to reflect on its company values, business intent and position within the agency landscape. Proudly independent for 35 years, Empower has always challenged the media status quo. Decades later, this hustle manifested into what the agency calls a Creative Media mindset.
“Creative Media is what we do, but if you ask us to define who we are – we are The Un-Holding Company,” says FitzGerald. “This identity isn’t new, but our articulation of it is,” he adds.
Empower: The Un-Holding Company launched with a new website design. The new look, tone and feel emphasizes the warmth and people-inspired spirit of Empower with content all produced in-house.
“Simply put, when you care for your people, they take care of your business. And we have fun while doing it,” FitzGerald proudly stated about The Un-Holding Company.
We are Empower, The Un-Holding Company. Our advantage is simple: Clients first - not shareholders.
From the day we opened our doors in 1985, Empower has always challenged the media status quo.
Empower is MediaPost’s 2021 Creative Agency of the Year, recognized as one of the top independent agencies by Campaign US, a two-time Ad Age Agency A-List Standout (2019 and 2021) and was crowned MediaPost’s 2016 Media Agency of the Year.
Our integrated team of experts in Media, Creative, Analytics and Word-of-Mouth Marketing outperform expectations. Celebrating two Adweek Media All-Star wins, back-to-back, while also being honored by the Webby Awards, The One Show, National ADDYs and ANA REGGIE Awards proves the eclectic talent at Empower is no one-hit wonder.
Empower’s client and employee tenure rate is unmatched - 3X the industry average. Some of our biggest fans include Brooks Running, Conn’s HomePlus, LIXIL (American Standard, GROHE and DXV), Tempur Sealy, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, TriHealth, Jack Link’s, V-Tech, Bush Brothers, Wendy’s, GNC, Famous Footwear, Ashley, Rust-Oleum, RoC Skincare and Newell Brands.
Empower is headquartered in the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati. Our Chicago office is located in the city’s bustling River North neighborhood, just steps from the Merchandise Mart. And our newest Atlanta hub is located inside the Interlock in West Midtown.
While much has evolved in our 38-year history, we remain independent with plenty of hustle…