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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Agency Profile: StrawberryFrog NY

Agency Profile: StrawberryFrog NY

Posted on February 19, 2006 and read 3,599 times

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ignaciocreditpic 150x150 Agency Profile: StrawberryFrog NYIgnacio Oreamuno


Once upon a time dinosaurs ruled the earth. These dinosaurs were called global advertising networks. They included specimens like the Bureaucratosaurus, the infamous Egosaurus, and even the legendary Networkosaurus. Then all kinds of bad stuff happened and the dinosaurs died and ended up in Jurassic Park, the movie (1, 2 and unfortunately 3). The only one that survived was a teeny tiny frog that was quick enough to jump places, hide and still pack enough venom to kill, if you ate it.

That’s what StrawberryFrog is. A survivor, an adaptation, or even yet, an evolution of the traditional agency model.

Ok, but just how different is their model?


For starters, how can clients as big as Heineken, Old Navy and Diet Coke be served by an agency that totals a mere 100 people? Even worst, how can they be served internationally, like Daimler-Chrysler’s 42 country 250 million dollar Mitsubishi account? Now I’m not talking about 100 people in NY, I’m talking about 100 people in NY and Amsterdam combined.

Well, the idea goes something like this: Akin to a frog, if you conserve your energies and work effectively, you actually can get the work done. Its leader, Montreal-native Scott Goodson best words it as “You don’t need an army with thousands of people to manage a $100 million national advertising campaign.” That quote is the verbal equivalent of a Madison Ave. dinosaur-killing meteorite. The model works by simply tapping into StrawberryFrog’s international freelance pool, which is composed of over 350 people. When they get a big assignment, they grab as many freelancers as they need to get the job done. If the client cuts the budget, then they cut the manpower. It’s that simple. It’s similar to those toads that breathe in lots of air to get really big and scare off predators (as well as attract potential mates).

Agencies are not factories; they are simply people working under one room. The frogs leading the company include Canadian Brian Elliott who was the former International Microsoft Account Director at Anderson Lembke, Swede Karin Drakenberg, Uloi Wiesendanger, the ‘W’ of TBWA, Kevin McKeon, ECD of NYC Frog and formerly the ECD of BBH NYC, Al Kelly, Former CD from Goodby now ECD of Frog Amsterdam, Paul Bichler, ECD Interactive NYC, formerly CD Interactive at Fallon, Ilana Bryant, Head of Planning NYC, formerly from BBH and Richard Monturo, their global head of planning, former global head of strategy TBWA/Chiat/Day. I’m sure these people know what they are doing.

The other peculiarity in the model lies in how the agency treats and sees itself. Frogs are delicate little animals. They are very pretty, but they can be eaten by ugly animals or even stepped on. StrawberryFrog thus takes a lot of efforts to keep its frogs safe and sound.

The little reptilians’ needs are taken care of by a Chef that visits the agency 3 times a week to nourish their voracious appetites. If that’s not enough, in Amsterdam, they get a masseuse once a week. YES, a real masseuse. And when the going gets tough, everyone from both offices gets going to the annual Frog Retreat. When I was there, it was New York’s turn to host the frogathon, which consisted of bonding, games, mini conferences held by interesting people, lots of food and quite a bit of drinking.

StrawberryFrog aims to be one big creative family and in order to achieve that, big efforts are made to break inhibitions and to get to know one another. For example, every now and then someone is picked to do a ‘5-minute of fame’ stint with the sole purpose of telling people something about themselves that others didn’t previously know about. You are allowed to do anything you want—perform a magic trick, show a little movie, dance, recite a poem, play the guitar, whatever you want, but you have to expose a little bit of your inner personality to your peers.

To make the distance across the pond seem smaller and to keep the two main offices close in contact a ‘buddy’ system was established. Everyone in the NY office has a buddy in Amsterdam and vice versa. If you want to find out something, ask a question, or simply shoot the shit, you’d simply call up your buddy and ask them.

A lot of agencies nurture their creatives in many different ways, but what separates StrawberryFrog from the pack is that creatives are not just encouraged to work in their agency creative assignments, but are actually encouraged to be creative in whatever side projects they want to work on. In other words, “run with the ball”. If you have an idea for a book, short film or anything creative that you want to personally pursue, the agency will not just allow you do it, but also encourage and support you with anything you need to achieve this. The agency doesn’t do this to quench your hidden dreams of being a true artistic creative. They do it because at StrawberryFrog an ad can be anything. If you are lucky enough to become a frog you’ll get your fill of TV, print and radio but you’ll also likely be creating stuff like Manga comics, furniture, weird websites, producing rock concerts, urban sculptures, magnets, and even a brand of water to launch a car. Creativity is more important than size at Strawberry.

People that knew Scott Goodson before StrawberryFrog describe him as a ‘really crazy guy ahead of his time’. Cleary his leadership has taken the agency in a direction that hasn’t been set before and it’s working. It has been recruiting top talent from around the world and winning accounts like Heineken from the hands of monster agencies like McCann-Erickson. In addition, some clients like Viagra are tapping into the frog because of the strong and eclectic mix of nationalities the agency has. Whilst many agencies like having offices around the world to be able to call themselves ‘global’ while not having to actually be, think or act global; at StrawberryFrog it’s a way of life. Like Scott, the frogs are composed of a myriad of international species and have a hard time respecting borders. Two doors with one agency, as they like to call it.

If I was in a bar having a drink and someone quickly asked me what StrawberryFrog was, I’d have to answer “a small really big global agency”.




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