Here is our inaugural list. Ones to watch / ones to admire / ones to emulate / ones to beat!

What is cool?

Well that’s the first challenge, and we’ve selected agencies based on two types of cool.

  1. Those running their agency business a bit differently. A bit braver.
  2. Those creating cool work or pushing boundaries.

We’ve purposefully chosen the lesser known agencies, those not already on everyone’s radar. Because a best kept secret is cool right?

This is the agency you’ll see name-checked on the Instagram of entertainment celebrities. They’re a rare breed of agency that still has an enviable black book of connections which means they can make hook ups happen faster and more cost effectively than traditional agencies.

If you’re after a campaign, licensing deal or live performance involving a celebrity, this lean team of 5 will make it happen.

They do it for Google, TikTok, Puma, Spotify & Airbnb.

“If you don’t like advertising agencies, Über is the advertising agency for you.” – Commercial Director, Sony Computer Entertainment

This Sheffield based creative agency has summed up what they think of the London agency scene in their gorgeous, high quality, no holds barred series of mini-films.

We applaud the investment. We applaud the humour. We applaud the message.

This CGI and motion graphics agency creates ground-breaking and visually breath taking work by investing a significant portion of their time into fresh experimentation.

Their own projects have been directly responsible for winning them new clients, so this isn’t just play; this is influential art meets the latest advancements in digital software.

HP, Converse, BBC and Absolut have all had a slice of this pie.

 

They’re a Sports Marketing agency, doing the business for Nissan, Gazprom, Chelsea FC, Puma and Peloton, but it was their isolation parties that we lived for in peak lockdown 2020.

Nonchalant techno DJ sets streamed direct from someone’s house share temporarily curbed our club cravings.

It’s not just their name that is extra, check out their website. It’s utterly insane!

These guys are not conformists, but they’re not crazy either.

Whilst producing stand out comms campaigns for Deliveroo, Poundland, Mastercard and Direct Line, they are also ardent advocates for increasing diversity within the creative and comms industries. This isn’t some column inches chat either, they truly lead the charge in opening up opportunities beyond the white middle class, and genuinely empower their team to bring their whole selves to work.

We bow to that.

They’re a product design agency, operating solely in the circular economy.

They’ve helped brands including Starbucks, Burger King and Nike to repurpose their waste into new products, and brands such as New Era to create products that are infinitely recyclable.

Surely in our world with oceans drowning in plastic, this is very cool?

Knee deep in the pandemic, these guys busted out what everyone needed. They created a Museum of Optimism – a crowdsourced archive of scenes of positivity.

This creative agency have been focused on work that genuinely makes a positive impact on the world for over 10 years now. In fact they take their mission so seriously that their whole team vote on (whether to accept or not) every brief that comes through the door, ensuring that finance factors never influence the clients and projects they take on.

They recognise that the industry they work in and the work they create has the power to influence huge numbers of people, so they’ve taken an ethical stance to ensure they’re only ever using their power for good. The agency equivalent of Superman.

Consumer research, but make it cool.

If a lifestyle brand needs to understand shifting trends and cultural movements, these guys and their global connections to taste makers are the ones to turn to.

They release their own reports every 6 months and launch the reports with industry parties that we wish we were invited to.

Their clients include Mont Blanc, Sonos, Uber and Harry’s.

This product and brand design agency is 16 years old and 100 people big. Until 3 months ago, they didn’t have a website.

They never have and they still don’t publish any of their client work online.

THAT is confidence. THAT is cool.

For the record, their client base includes The Body Shop, NIO, Herman Miller, The Coca-Cola Company, British Airways and InterContinental Hotels.

We didn’t ask their permission to feature here. They probably would have said no.

Now this is cool as you traditionally know it.

From a government arts funded shed in Dalston back in 2011, to an absolute authority in music & culture today. This radio station and music platform is now focusing its attentions to working with brands and helping them to build credible, current and creative activations.

This team have truly earned the right to help brands find their authentic positioning in youth and urban culture.

Most recently they’ve done exactly that for Netflix, Jameson, Rockstar Games, Uniqlo, Carhartt and Adidas.

Without a doubt, the category of agencies best at marketing themselves, developing ultra compelling propositions, the best looking creds and outstanding team engagement, are the digital innovation and product / service design studios.

Idean are a case in point.

Their monthly events are industry leading, the topics push boundaries, the speaker line up is jaw dropping month after month, and the food and drink line up rivals Street Feast. The events are open to all in the digital and design industry (even their competitors) supporting career development and pushing the whole industry forwards.

Not to be outdone by their office which is an Instagrammers dream. Created by an interior design studio, the brief was to facilitate collaboration.

The recent launch of their own merch that we want to get our hands on cemented their place on this list.

Back to an agency that is cool to the bone. The uniform here is black. Their clients include Nasa! (As well as Nike, Beats By Dre, BMW and Rapha.)

The studio is based in Haggerston and has it’s own Accept & Proceed cafe that is also open to the public.

Beyond the image and work though, this agency truly believe in making a positive impact. Their recently awarded B Corp status follows years of actively supporting Extinction Rebellion and closing the office multiple times per year to join protests.

They give 1% of their turnover away, and take every other Friday off for exploration and to bring back fresh thinking.

That’s money where their mouth is.

This illustration and animation agency has style to die for. But we all know it’s not just the work that makes an agency. It’s the people and the personalities. Well this one is headed up by an awesome, mad, powerhouse, wild child combined with entrepreneurial zeal.

Actually, that wild child is now fully grown up with 2 kids, but the energy is still there, and as well as working with the world’s finest creators, the agency actively supports, nurtures and promotes up-and-coming talent as well as people just starting their careers in illustration.

Our final two agencies are sexy Scandis. We’d originally intended to only feature UK agencies, but these two are so hot it would be wrong of us to not draw the world’s attention to these cool cats.

They’re a tech-driven design studio. AKA a digital agency.

They have offices in Oslo, Amsterdam, Bonn and London.

Their social media is beautiful.

We want to move into their offices.

But the main reason they’ve made this list is the public publishing of their employee handbook. The ethos and culture of this business shines through.

They acknowledge that things sometimes go wrong. This isn’t a polished American corporate!

They encourage experimentation, and whilst most ideas amount to nothing, some become real-life greatness.

Two-day summer and Christmas parties are de-rigeur.

Their Dutch team get a Museumcard giving them access to 400 museums for free. The German team join 4 days of Carnival every year. And the Oslo team have a hive of bees to care for on their roof.

All offices enjoy bi-weekly massages and full-on breakfasts and lunches laid on daily.

There’s more! Dip in and take a look for yourself.

This list of cool agencies aims to inspire, and these team benefits certainly give food for thought.

Did we save the best til last? Perhaps.

This tiny Stokholm based creative agency have a disproportionally large personality and presence.

They worship the colour pink and have toured the world lecturing on the topic of creative entrepreneurship and how to make it in the creative industry – all in the style of a rock concert.

“Our lecture destroys the myths about being ‘creative’ as well as giving you our perfectly honest story about taking risks, fucking up and reaching success.”

Their clients include Schuh, Klarna and Spotify.

Not only ones to watch in general, these are ones to watch in real life should you ever get the chance.

This is what you imagined creative agencies were like before you joined a creative agency.

Non-conformist, irreverent, and pushing out highly original creative for their clients.

Those are our top 15.

Who have we missed and who should be top of the list next year? Let us know.

May we all up our game to keep the magic and allure of our industry alive.

To put yourself or another agency forward for our next edition, please email alex.sibille@thefuturefactory.co.uk