Big News! We won Ad Age Small Agency of the Year.

August 1, 2019

Creative Energy Wins Ad Age Small Agency of the Year, 2019 Southeast Region

by Tony Treadway

With over 13,000 advertising agencies currently doing business across the United States, it’s not surprising to think that it can be difficult for one to stand out.  Creative Energy has been working hand-in-hand with global brands for decades to help them exceed their marketing and sales goals. Having won international recognition from authorities like Grafis, we knew our work was capable of standing alongside work done by agencies much larger than we are.

This year, however, the Creative Energy team decided to submit themselves for review by the biggest authority on small agencies across the country, Ad Age.  The Ad Age Small Agency of the Year awards are one of the most highly regarded accomplishments any small agency can attain. Having Creative Energy earn the title of Small Agency of the Year 2019, Southeast Region, GOLD is something that our entire team takes full ownership.

When Ad Age opened up the competition this year they shared some background on this award and their process;

If there was ever a year of the small agency, it’s 2019. Marketers are under the gun to prove ROI and are actively seeking solutions beyond giant agencies owned by sprawling holding companies. These companies are looking for the fresh thinking, versatility and nimbleness that small shops bring, and marketers as huge as Procter & Gamble have been making room on their rosters for small agencies with big ideas.

Each year, the Ad Age Small Agency Awards uncover and honor small, independent agencies that are producing innovative and exciting work. These teams strategize and execute groundbreaking ideas to compete with work done by some of advertising’s oldest, largest and most sought-after partners. New this year, we are adding two experiential categories to help recognize the small shops who continue to push boundaries and create effective experiential brand campaigns.

The competition is tough, but the reward is big. Winners are announced and celebrated at our Small Agency Conference & Awards, to be held in July 2019.

Well, on July 31st, Creative Energy was recognized as being one of those agencies that stood out among all those that entered.  The one statement that stands out to us from Ad Age’s description is “fresh thinking, versatility, and nimbleness.”  These are all things that the Creative Energy team has focused on for years to bring the agency growth and success.

“Throughout our firm’s 27-year history we’ve been focused on developing extraordinary messaging that grows the brand and the sales for our clients,” says Creative Energy co-founder and President Tony Treadway. “We’re also about giving opportunity for talented people to live and work in an exceptional environment and do international quality work.”

It is that second point our company founder shared that helps Creative Energy continue to grow and succeed.  Creative Energy, unlike many other mid and large full-service advertising and marketing agencies, has chosen to base themselves in Johnson City, TN.  We’re not surprised that you haven’t heard of our small town.  At a modest population of around 70,000 people, Johnson City is not on the map for most advertising industry professionals.  Most people that look in our region focus on Charlotte or Asheville on the other side of the mountain. However, it’s not going to stay that way for very long.  The word is getting out, and our small town is definitely on the move.

An Agency Set in the Heart of Adventure

Johnson City is quickly drawing talented artists, musicians, and independent thinkers around the country to our area.  The reason?  Because Johnson City is based in one of the most outdoor adventure-rich regions on the east coast.  A desk at Creative Energy puts an advertising professional literally minutes from the legendary Appalachian Trail—one of the most renowned hiking and backpacking experiences in the world, minutes from the Nolichucky River—a famous white water paradise for rafters and kayakers, and the Linville Gorge—one of the best rock climbing experiences in the eastern United States!  All within a days drive of an advertising agency that is producing world-class work for exciting brands driving to lead their markets.  

Having so many incredible outdoor resources—along with a downtown music, brewery, and art scene that is growing exponentially every year—has given Creative Energy the ability to attract and retain a very specific kind of industry professional from other big city agencies.  Our team is made up of creative and strategic professionals that hunger for fresh ideas and courageous executions for our clients.  It has led to some of the most successful campaigns our client brands have had throughout their history.

Brand Engagement that Penetrates

Our location is just part of the Creative Energy story, however.  No one, including Ad Age, would have much interest in a small agency in the middle of nowhere if the work wasn’t exceptional.  Our team has been developing work that propels sales growth and engagement by applying new technologies and insights we mine from our relationships.

Creative Energy has one over-arching mandate that guides our path, “We build cult brands.”  While that sounds very clever and trendy, it’s more than just a pitch line for us—it’s a proven and repeatable tactical core directive.  It takes a great deal of work to build a brand vision and voice that not only engages an audience, but also builds a culture those followers can willingly adopt.  This is a powerful tool for clients to leverage in a modern culture that no longer has access to a mass shared macroculture.  Culture has splintered from mass media outlets all the way down to individual buyer behavior.  Creative Energy has developed a program of deep insight mining with new clients to draw down to the real truth of their company beliefs.  By knowing exactly what drives a company to move forward, develop new products or services, invest in certain social causes, and build authentic messaging, our team can build a curated group of target personas and a media-planning portfolio that is deeply specific to that client’s goals.  

Our ability to build cult brands was best exemplified this year as we helped our long-time partner Pal’s Sudden Service—a local QSR restaurant client—earn the number 2 position in a national USA Today User Poll for the best regional fast food chain.  Our ability to activate a proactive group of followers for this client gave a company with a little over 20 locations the ability to beat out competitors like Whataburger, In-N-Out, and Sheetz with hundreds of locations and millions more to spend—all with a modest local PR campaign and a careful application of some well-executed social media posts.  That’s the power of a cult brand, and it’s what we do on a daily basis.

Meet a Jackalope!

We are very excited to have our hard work recognized and appreciated by Ad Age, an authority we’ve followed and respected for years.  Our main motivation—and the main thing that has led to our agency’s success—, however, is partnering with the right clients that fit within our own culture.  It’s not about the size of your brand, the budget you have available, or even the quality of past work.  It’s about authenticity and singularity of vision.  That’s the reason we’ve had such great results working with independent and family-owned brands, they still have DNA behind their identity.  

We also have successful experience with larger corporate organizations with multiple brands like; Coca-Cola, General Shale, Ajinomoto, Siemens, and others.  In these relationships we work closely with the internal agency team to build their culture.  Cult brands take courage from their beliefs, and Creative Energy helps companies believe in their own truth.  

If you believe in what your brand can accomplish, and are ready to partner with an agency that can build your unique culture, we need to talk.  Our team is made up of some of the most genuine and generous advertising professionals you will ever work with, and our results have always spoken for themselves.   We have the tools to grow your business the right way in the new economy.  

To schedule a brief conversation with Creative Energy, please reach out to our New Business Development Director, David Brashears, via email at dbrashears@cenergy.comor by phone at (423) 926-9494 ext: 111.