Dunn&Co. Honored as Ad Age Small Agency of the Year, Southeast

We’re in Chicago, attending the annual Small Agency Conference put on by Ad Age, and we’ve just been recognized as Small Agency of the Year/Southeast.

It’s hard to put into words, what the last 16 months have been like. Some that come to mind include astonishing, miraculous, crazy, momentous, impossible.

When I opened Dunn&Co. 19 years ago, I dreamed of this stuff happening. Being surrounded by such an incredible team of pros that we’d be able to compete with the best in the land one day. But I didn’t necessarily ever think we’d get here.

And yet, here we are.

The run that led up to this announcement started locally in early 2021 with a dominant showing, including the Best of Show, at the Tampa ADDYs. Then it kept going with another dominant showing, and another Best of Show (this time for our Smokey Bones rebrand campaign), at the Florida ADDYs. And then the real kicker came in the late summer, with the completely unexpected and game-changing moment of the CLIOs recognizing our Tampa Bay Lightning work with 10 CLIO awards. What?! This was pinch-me time. That was quickly followed by Kinsale Shark awards, an Epica award, a few Graphis awards, and then another dominant showing, and yet another Best of Show, at the Tampa Bay ADDYs in early 2022, followed by yet another dominant showing at the Florida ADDYs (including, yes, another Best of Show), followed by an OBIE award for Lightning outdoor, and then… wait for it… two One Show awards! What? Is this real? And then as we eased into the end of awards season, the New York Festivals decided to honor us with 7 awards, including 2 gold. See what I mean? This was crazy.

But this feeling of having run on all cylinders for the past 16 months isn’t confined to just the creative product that’s scooping up all the awards. The business itself is more optimized than ever before, resulting in profitability never before achieved. The staff, recovering from two years being homebound and physically isolated, is flourishing and rowing in the same direction. Our longstanding clients continue to believe in us and give us the freedom we need to make the kind of work that separates them from the pack, and often is recognized as exceptional. And our new business pipeline has never been stronger, introducing us to new clients, local, regional and global, that have found in us the kindred spirits they were after.

We’re living the dream. The small agency dream of being around those you admire and require to be notable in our profession. And yet, there was still that something else. That elusive recognition I’d been after for more than a decade. Always beyond reach, and seemingly impossible to attain.

And then, the email arrived.

Being recognized as Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year/Southeast is nearly indescribable for me, because it’s been so vaunted for so long in my head. It took so much planning, so much effort, fighting through so much drama, overcoming so much uncertainty, that to be honored in this way, it’s priceless, and gratifying in a way no other recognition can satisfy.

I’m a big believer that an award like this is the result of not only this past year’s successes, but of all 19 years that it took to have the year we’ve had. The people at Dunn right now are here because of what their predecessors accomplished before them. The way was paved with excellence, making our agency an admirable destination for those current exceptional teammates.

And what teammates! The current squad at Dunn&Co. is second to none and able to compete with the most seasoned ad vets. Our pitch win ratio is over 90% and our client’s consistent successes are proof that our product – whether it be strategic planning, media planning, digital portfolios or creative excellence – is as good as advertised.

This is a particularly special recognition because it’s wholistic. You can’t win this for just being award-winning, or just being profitable, or just having killer company morale. It takes all of it being exceptional to win this. It’s all got to be humming together to get noticed by Ad Age. Their Small Agency Awards recognize excellence, marketing effectiveness, strategic thinking and overall performance for agencies with 150 or fewer employees.

When you consider that there are over 13,000 ad agencies across the US, it becomes clear very quickly that standing out is exceptionally tough. This win helps solidify that Dunn&Co has become one of the top small agencies in the country and will act as motivation to keep reaching higher, to keep winning for our clients, and to continue to make work that matters.

Thank you to all of my Dunn&Co. comrades that have helped us achieve this tremendous milestone. And thank you to Ad Age, for recognizing us with this honor.

– Troy Dunn