It’s 72 and sunny at 72andSunny—but, as one might assume, the moniker does not reflect the Southern California skies over the marketing firm’s rambling Los Angeles warehouse-style studio. Nor does it reflect the often-wet, gray days in Amsterdam, where the other 72andSunny office is located.
72andSunny bespeaks an attitude: Everything’s looking good. Everything’s an opportunity. Sounds great in a childlike, oversimplified way, and it turns out that the 72 and sunny forecast bodes well for partners, staff and clients. It informs a culture where every Friday is barbecue day in Los Angeles and lunch is served for everyone in the agency every day in Amsterdam, a custom in many Dutch companies. And it drives the idea that, in this economy, a healthy financial forecast for clients’ lines of business is a very, very good thing.
That’s where the 72 and sunny concept really plays out. The agency doesn’t merely say they are invested in client outcomes. Of course, any successful, or even surviving, marketing firm has to put results first, but here they truly put their clients’ success at the center of their sunny universe, in a unique approach to making brands culturally relevant. Founding partner and creative director John Boiler says, “We are holistic marketing partners. Our entire thrust is to make brands matter in the culture—connecting through paid media and earned media, any way that works. It’s strategy first and that makes our job easier. We got to work on Xbox very early on—the brand went from 15 percent to 50 percent market share. Culturally, a kid would go from saying ‘I want to play PlayStation,’ to ‘I want to play Xbox.’”
Launched in 2004 by Boiler, creative director Glenn Cole and design director Robert Nakata, 72andSunny comes by its bi-continental roots naturally. Two of the three founding partners come from Wieden+Kennedy in Portland, Oregon, and all three spent years at the W+K/Amsterdam office.
Boiler spent five years in Amsterdam, serving as executive creative director and managing partner at the firm. During his tenure, W+K grew from a staff of 40 to 185. Cole, as creative director, led the launch of Audi A2 and directed all the Nike European business over seven years. Nakata, a dual citizen of Canada and the Netherlands, led design efforts at W+K/Amsterdam for ten years and spends most of his time at the Amsterdam office. The fourth partner, chief strategy officer Matt Jarvis, joined 72andSunny in 2008. Jarvis had served as executive planning director at Deutsch/LA.
For clients, which include Carl’s Jr., Discovery Channel, The CW Television Network, Hewlett-Packard, 2K Sports, Nike and Bugaboo, the agenc’s list of capabilities reads like a standard offering: research, brand strategy, design, film, digital, print, experience design, retail and internal branding. Recently they acquired public relations and event firm unlockPR, led by Kerry Fitzmaurice. But what’s not so standard is that the agency, which brands itself as Born Modern, takes a fully-integrated approach to work. “We don’t want to solve problems with a bias toward print or TV or online,” Jarvis says. “The solution may be an iPhone application and that’s it. It’s exciting to have all these digital tools. We brainstorm together through an integrated journey. The culture has gone hybrid, but our industry has not.”
Often, 72andSunny works alongside clients’ partner agencies to provide the digital voice and look of a campaign. Their international presence informs these global initiatives. While a client like Nike might have national campaigns encompassing TV and print, an Internet footprint is all-inclusive. In a Nikefootball.com initiative, the site got 50 million visits over 6 months, re-energizing their brand in the global soccer category. “Really, what we do is create culturally-relevant work that advances the business of organizations and culture itself,” Nakata says. “We start with an open mind to anything out there.”
Developing work is a joint venture between client and agency. Jason Argent VP, marketing, at 2K Sports says, “Working with 72andSunny is very collaborative. I really don’t know how else to do it and with these guys it really works. There was one project where all the work they brought was great, but I had a nagging feeling something was missing. I told them that and they said, ‘Let us think about it.’ They came back with new work that was absolutely the right way to go.”
The agency was recently chosen by Hewlett-Packard in a highly competitive pitch to relaunch the HP brand under the banner “Let’s Do Amazing.” Glenna Patton, VP of brand strategy and experience design at HP says, “72andSunny is collaborative, they play it straight, they deliver and they care. They are equally invested in HP’s success and that commitment is evident across the entire team.”
In some cases, they really are married to their client. Kari Boiler, married to partner John, is their client on Bugaboo, a Dutch company that creates and builds innovative, high-performance strollers. Since its launch of the brand in the United States, global sales have risen 300 percent over 4 years and 72andSunny has driven the effort through integrated messaging that works on level after level, from online catalogs to in-store, to customers’ phones. “Every piece we do for Bugaboo is as multifunctional as the product line,” says John Boiler. “There are no one-offs, no dead ends.” One project, Bugaboo Daytrips, featured fun outings for parents and children, mapping out routes that moms and dads were able to access on their phones.
“I love the concept of the daytrips,” Kari Boiler says. “Not only does it show our incredibly beautiful and functional products, but the medium and the message perfectly show Bugaboo as a modern mobility company. The creative concept really defined this term for the category—the integration of daytrips around the world, beautiful maps/artists creating these trips, and the sheer utility and function of free service to inspire our parents to get out and explore, expresses Bugaboo at its core.”
In a campaign for Discovery Channel titled “The World is Just Awesome,” the agency created small films to play online and on the channel itself. In sweeping vistas on earth, in space and underwater, the campaign engenders a sense of wonder. The creative is awe-inspiring and the results were too: Revenue grew 14 percent the quarter it played, representing a 20 percent ratings increase against the highly coveted target of 25–54. It was also the top-rated film on YouTube at its launch.
In 2009, the agency decided to become its own client and kicked off a product line. Nook Sleep Systems, a line of infant mattresses, bedding and sleepwear that provides breathable, non-toxic sleeping environments for babies. Now the agency sees every step of the product lifecycle, from the inside out. “So now we can really feel our clients’ pain,” Cole says with a laugh. “We really know what it feels like—from every frustration to every win.”
While Boiler, Cole and Jarvis are headquartered, for the most part, in Los Angeles, with Nakata in Amsterdam, the partners and staff, which numbers around 100, travel between Los Angeles and Amsterdam as needed. Being located in two international time zones can be a plus on a deadline. Nakata explains, “It works both ways. When we’re in the thick of development we’ve been able to take advantage of the nine-hour time difference through well-synchronized hand-offs. Other times, a lack of understanding of the time difference makes it more difficult. Since my three partners have all worked in The Netherlands and/or Europe, they’re aware of the implications.”
Creative director Bryan says, “The mixture of ideas and content and design here is the perfect melting pot.” Cole adds, “No opinion or thought is too small. Everyone’s ideas are appreciated—everyone here is a slash-something.” ca