AOR: Agency of Return

When agencies see or hear the term ‘AOR’, they typically drop everything and start to think about how they can position themselves to win. And when marketers are looking for an ‘AOR’, they’ve thought long and hard about the list of KPIs they’re looking to achieve, right?

But these days, it’s not so much about becoming the Agency of Record, but more the Agency of Return. Both marketers and agencies must start looking at how they either choose their agency, or position themselves to win the business, differently. Rediscover what value means to you.

boomerang (1)Think of it like a classic IRA, where it can issue 8% returns annually on your investment. Before you choose that IRA, you study its record of performance year-over-year, and ultimately make a decision on the one that you feel will bring the most value. And in our world, the term value can mean many things. It can be the actual sales increase you see as a result of your marketing efforts, the awareness and buzz created from a new campaign or package redesign, or even just delivering on a scope of work. It really all depends how you want to view it, and what’s most important to you.

From a marketers perspective, it’s more than likely going to be tied to sales. You want to show that the agency investment literally paid off. And from the agency side, the value comes from a satisfied client, and the positive reflection you hope they shine upon you in the trade. Thus, generating new opportunities from like-minded clients.

In the grand scheme of it all, we’re in it to find some sort of return or value. And while that is measured in outcomes, it all is tightly tied to the idea of a much grander hope. The hope of a reciprocating partnership that delivers positive results on both sides, and in return, is quite rewarding for everyone.

So think about how you choose your next agency, long and hard. And ask yourself, do they want to be my “Agency of Record” or my “Agency of Return”, and what type of return is of real value to you. That goes the same for us agencies.

Marc-eting 101: I Want To Be Scared



This week marked the 12th annual Advertising Week New York conference– a week-long celebration and exploration of topics relevant to the advertising, branding, and marketing industries. After attending events throughout the week, we asked our President, Marc Sampogna, what his best experience was at this year’s AdWeek NY.

As Halloween approaches, discussing something “scary” is never more appropriate. At this years AdWeek NY, I experienced some interesting topics and conversations. All of which uncovered insights that I’m sure I’ll use at some point in my day-to-day. But one in particular really resonated with me, and that was with Seth Godin ( Now, I’ve seen him speak a number of times, and have read some of his books, e.g., Purple Cow, All Marketers Tell (Lies) Stories, etc., but something about this talk hit me in a different way… a good way — in a way that gets lost in the world of marketing and creativity these days. He spoke about “fear”, and that if you, the agency/creative/strategist/etc. aren’t afraid, then you’re not doing your job (Insert resounding agreement and praise here).

Why is it that we filter down our ideas, and dilute the creativity out of them just so they’ll do something average? Well, it’s, as Seth stated, because “average is what reaches 100 million people”. Average is mainstream. Average is a sure thing. Look, from a business perspective, I get it, we gotta sell tickets, put asses in the seats, move shit off shelves, etc. But for f#@ks sake who the hell wants to be “average”??!! I sure as hell don’t. I want to be scared. I want to be afraid. I want to take risks. I want to hold nothing back. Put myself out there and do things that make me uncomfortable. Because if it means that the ideas I put forth are genuine, and inspired from within, then whether it fails or not, I can move ahead knowing that I stayed true to what matters to me — not being average.

Marc-eting 101: Christmas Is Not Coming Early This Year

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Being a huge New York Knicks fan, we knew we had to ask our CEO Marc Sampogna his thoughts on this year’s NBA Christmas uniforms that were leaked this morning. He shared his creative opinion on the designs and their eco-impact with us below.


Unfortunately there’s no emoji for my reaction to the new design of the NBA’s Christmas uniforms, which happen to be bleh. There’s nothing seasonal, or spectacular about them from a design standpoint, and that’s all I have to say about that. HOWEVER, there are a couple of elements that captured my attention. They’re promoting sustainability! Now this is a change for the NBA, and a good one. Not using any dye or bleach on the uniforms make these collectors items good for the environment and disposable. Marketing tactic? Not sure. But I think it’s a step in the right direction for an association not known for it’s eco-friendly ways. One last element I enjoyed was how they treated the logo, in a wax seal. While I love the nod to Old English times, I’m not sure how it fits in overall with Christmas. But who am I to judge? I’ve just been following the NBA my entire life, love the Knicks, and happen to run a creative branding agency.

Marc-eting 101: User-Generated Content

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We sat down with our CEO Marc Sampogna to talk about the latest trends in marketing and branding. This month we asked him the following questions, “Recently, we’ve noticed a lot of brands sharing user-generated content across their digital channels. What is the most effective example of this that you’ve seen? What do you think are the benefits of having consumers create and share content for brands that they love?”

There’s no doubt that user-generated content is extremely effective for brands to market their products or services. It provides content to populate the brands digital platforms and allows them to build brand loyalty by fostering unique experiences for their customers, both digitally and in real life.
We all remember the Doritos activation, “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, which yielded thousands of submissions, all culminating with the winner’s spot airing during the big game.  While that’s certainly a very effective and memorable one, there are others that I believe have a longer tail.

Take Jones Soda — they literally place consumer photos and stories on their labels to celebrate the quirky nature of the brand and those who enjoy it. They’ve been doing this for years, and others have followed in different shapes and forms. Such as Twisted Tea, and even Coke for that matter, taking it to another level with their custom shareable cans campaign. And who can forget Mt Dew’s Democracy, where they asked consumers to design the packaging for their latest flavor or Starbucks’, where consumers share and vote on the coolest idea that they think Starbucks should integrate into their stores. My favorite was coffee flavored ice cubes — avoids the watering down of your ice coffee with regular ice cubes. Simple, yet genius.

No matter how you slice it, brands will always benefit from empowering their consumers to participate in their story. Whether it’s designing it, naming it, or sharing how you enjoy it, we just want to be a part of it. This results in broader exposure for the brand, as well as newfound perspective on exactly how they’re audiences experience their products and engage their brand. So, I certainly believe that brands will continue to embrace the “power to the people” approach, and find new and unique ways to do so.