The Top 10 Best Digital Marketing Agencies in the World

While many organizations employ digital marketing teams in-house, an equal number outsource this work to dedicated digital marketing agencies. If you’re not keen on the in-house route, there are no end of digital marketing agencies to work for, from well-established stalwarts of the industry to newer, trendy start-ups that are disrupting the traditional marketing landscape. 

In this post, we explore 10 of the best digital marketing agencies in the world right now. We’ll include some you’ve probably heard of, and others perhaps you haven’t. After summarizing each, we’ll also share a taste of their work so you know what to expect! 

Let’s dive right in…

1. Porter Novelli

Porter Novelli at a glance:

  • Founded: 1972
  • Headquarters: New York City
  • Number of employees: 700+
  • Well-known clients: 7UP, Timberland, McDonald’s, Disney, PepsiCo, and Braun

Founded in 1972 in New York City, Porter Novelli is a global communications consultancy. Naturally, nowadays, that involves a hefty amount of social media and digital marketing! In particular, Porter Novelli’s focus is purpose-driven marketing. Their one-time CEO, Brad McCaffee, explains: “Purpose defines an organization’s authentic role and value in society [and] that allows it to simultaneously grow its business and positively impact the world.” 

Marketing with a conscience? Not a bad outlook, in our book!

What campaigns are they famous for?

Back in 2014, a now-infamous social media campaign took the world by storm: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. In case you somehow missed it, participants around the world filmed themselves pouring buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for the debilitating disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The Ice Bucket Challenge dominated social media for weeks. 

Today, purpose-driven marketing (in which an organization centers its activities on a social cause) is a common trend in digital. Back in 2014, though, it was a pretty new idea. Porter Novelli didn’t come up with the concept of the Ice Bucket Challenge—that was the brainchild of two men called Pat Quinn and Pete Frates. However, the campaign gained so much momentum that the ALS Association wasn’t able to keep up. They hired Porter Novelli to use the heightened attention around ALS to spread disease awareness on social media and to maintain the campaign’s momentum. 

With their support, the campaign raised over $220 million. As more employees want to work for organizations with a social purpose, what could be better than a digital marketing agency like Porter Novelli?

2. Cuker Agency

Cuker Agency at a glance:

  • Founded: 2006
  • Headquarters: California
  • Number of employees: 30
  • Well-known clients: Nike, Vans, Dunlop, Oakley, Sony, and Quiksilver

Founded in 2006 in Carlsbad, California, Cuker is proof that you needn’t be a big player to make waves. A much smaller agency, born after the dawn of the internet, Cuker specializes specifically in digital marketing, digital strategy, design, technology, and data analytics. Their aim? To help their clients compete for consumers who are online 24/7. They’re representative of many other agile agencies competing for space in the digital sphere.

What campaigns are they famous for?

Perhaps one of the most successful and high-grossing marketing campaigns ever is Redbull’s ‘Stratos Jump’. This high-altitude skydive saw Austrian thrill-seeker, Felix Baumgartner, leap from the edge of space before tumbling back to Earth. It was viewed live by over 8 million users (which, to this day, remains a live streaming record for YouTube). While the idea was conceived by Redbull’s in-house team (bringing a whole new meaning to the company’s slogan, ‘Redbull Gives You Wings’) the jump alone was not enough to keep the social media frenzy going. Enter Cuker.

A person doing a skydive, part of a marketing campaign for Redbull

Source: redbull.com

To support the digital buzz around Felix Baumgartner’s jump, Cuker created numerous digital marketing campaigns. They developed apps, online contests, and other digital promotions to support Redbull’s high-octane sporting events and to boost brand engagement. Felix Baumgartner was the most high profile of these but they promoted other Redbull athletes, too, including snowboarders, surfers, mountain bikers, and formula one racing drivers. Their approach helped social media users connect with Redbull in new ways, boosting awareness, site traffic, and overall growth.

3. Leo Burnett

Leo Burnett at a glance:

  • Founded: 1935
  • Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
  • Number of employees: 9,000+
  • Well-known clients: Coca-Cola, Kraft, Nintendo, McDonald’s, Fiat, and Samsung

Back to a well-established player that’s now making its way in digital. Founded in 1935 in Chicago, Leo Burnett began life as an advertising agency. While this remains a core part of its offering, it couldn’t have survived this long without adapting to the times. It’s now one of the world’s leading digital marketing agencies, with a focus on advertising, marketing, and branding (both on and offline). Naturally, in this day and age, this includes digital campaigns, too.

What campaigns are they famous for?

In 2014, Always (a provider of menstrual hygiene products) launched a new social media campaign: #LikeAGirl. They knew that the expression, ‘like a girl’, was often used as an insult. The campaign aimed to subvert the language of gender bias, boosting the confidence of a generation of young women. It involved creating a viral video of young girls transforming the expression ‘like a girl’ to mean amazing things. And the digital marketing agency behind the campaign? You got it: Leo Burnett.

The "Like a girl" marketing campaign for Always

Source: Always website, 2015.

This campaign was so successful that it created a global movement and even got a Twitter shout-out from then First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. Not many digital marketing campaigns can say that! Another great example of a company getting behind a social cause. 

4. Carat

Carat at a glance:

  • Founded: 1968
  • Headquarters: London, UK
  • Number of employees: 12,000+
  • Well-known clients: Mastercard, Vodafone, Heineken, Microsoft, Philips, and Kellogg’s

Founded in London in 1968, Carat boldly describes itself as ‘the world’s first media agency’ and it has thousands of employees in over 100 countries. Whether or not this is hyperbole isn’t important—the agency is huge and very successful. Don’t take our word for it: in 2021, they were ranked the world’s number one agency for the sixth year running according to RECMA (a research company that evaluates the media agency industry). Many digital marketing professionals would give their right leg to land a job with them.

What campaigns are they famous for?

When it comes to women’s issues, Leo Burnett might have produced one of the most emotive viral videos out there, but they don’t get a monopoly on the matter. Highlighting this, in 2012 (before #LikeAGirl) Carat took a somewhat more tongue-in-cheek approach to menstrual hygiene. 

A man on Facebook had shared a mocking post complaining that tampon provider Bodyform’s ads misconstrued the reality of periods. The post subsequently went viral. While it could easily have ended there, in response, Carat conceived a spoof reaction video from the fictional ‘CEO of Bodyform’ (in reality, Bodyform is a brand of P&G). With the response video also going viral, Bodyform earned accolades from consumers and industry alike.

This is an ideal example of responsive digital marketing. Carat had to conceive the video, create the script and film it in an incredibly short timeframe, all to ensure they maintained the conversation while it was still fresh. It might not have been on the scale of the Always campaign, but in our opinion, it still puts Carat up there with the best digital marketing agencies!

5. Spark Foundry

Spark Foundry at a glance:

  • Founded: 2017
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Number of employees: 3,000+
  • Well-known clients: Fox, KFC, National Geographic, Mattel, and Taco Bell

Back to a new player (sort of!) Spark Foundry was officially founded in 2017. That said, it has its roots in a long line of advertising agencies that have merged and changed over the years. With big support behind it, Spark Foundry is now a start-up supported by the clout of its parent organization, Publicis Media. It has over 3,000 employees in 50 countries and it specializes in numerous areas, including digital and social, research, and data analytics.

What campaigns are they famous for?

As you’ll likely already know, Facebook recently rebranded as Meta. As part of this, the social media behemoth sought out a new global media business partner to support them in reconnecting with their audience. And guess who they picked? You got it: Spark Foundry. Although it’s early days, according to Meta, Spark Foundry will be responsible for strategic thought leadership, media innovation, planning and investment, cross-channel approaches, tools, tech, and operations. Easy as pie!

OK, so stepping up to this challenge will be no mean feat: Facebook/Meta has faced a great deal of bad publicity in recent years and Spark Foundry is relatively new in its current form. But with a team of experts behind it who have experience creating social engagement and awareness marketing campaigns, Spark Foundry will likely step up. Watch this space!

6. Wieden+Kennedy (W+K)

Wieden+Kennedy at a glance:

  • Founded: 1982
  • Headquarters: Portland, Oregon
  • Number of employees: 1,400+
  • Well-known clients: Chrysler, Babbel, BudLight, Converse, Old Spice, and Netflix

Founded in 1982 in Portland, Oregon, W+K is an independent creative marketing agency with eight global offices and 1,400 employees. They have offices in Amsterdam, the UK, China, India, and Brazil, as well as the US. They also specialize in everything from digital marketing to advertising, design, and technology. And they’ve done some fantastic work with their clients, including this genius piece for KFC.

What campaigns are they famous for?

Undoubtedly, W+K’s most famous client is Nike. At the beginning of the pandemic, with sport on the backburner, Nike shared an inspiring tweet of unity that quickly went viral. Later, as the world emerged from lockdown, they followed this message up by reasserting the importance of sport as a metaphor for human resilience in the face of adversity. This time though, it was accompanied not by a single tweet, but a whole new #YouCantStopUs video (the third such video for this campaign). 

A Nike advertising campaign run by Wieden and Kennedy, one of the top digital marketing agencies

Source: Nike

Coinciding with the start of the MBAs and a renewed sense of hope, W+K produced an inspiring short film to accompany the campaign, voiced by Megan Rapinoe. Touching on themes of racism, gender, and equality, it’s no surprise that the video went viral on social media. 

Of course, this is only what we see on the front end of the campaign. Behind the scenes, W+K also supported other aspects of digital marketing, including analytics, strategy, and engagement. All this on top of trawling 4,000 hours of sports footage just to make the video the seamless wonder that it is…Genius or hard work? Probably a bit of both.

7. Twitter ArtHouse

Twitter ArtHouse at a glance:

  • Founded: 2019
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Number of employees: Unknown
  • Well-known clients: They play their cards close to their chests on this one!

Not all digital marketing agencies come from the advertising industry. While many well-established ad and marketing agencies have moved into digital, Twitter has approached from the other direction. In 2019, they launched Twitter ArtHouse, a team of creatives focused on helping brands and agencies create campaign content, while connecting them with creators and influencers. A pretty novel approach. After all, who knows the target audience better than social media companies themselves?

What campaigns are they famous for?

When the pandemic arrived and the world locked down, Amazon’s profits grew by nearly 200%, while many smaller players went out of business. Social media was abuzz with the injustice. Hoping to buck the trend of global corporations ruthlessly pursuing profit, credit card giant Amex UK launched their tenth annual #ShopSmallUK campaign. They hoped to connect with the social conversation around local businesses while drawing attention to their ten-week Shop Small cashback offer. 

In support, Twitter ArtHouse created an attention-grabbing video incorporating the names of some genuine small businesses in the UK. The video production also supported small business owners, namely the artists who took part in creating it. While it’s still early days for Twitter ArtHouse, this is an interesting model for digital marketing agencies. Let’s see what the future holds for this kind of approach. 

8. Grey Group

Grey Group at a glance:

  • Founded: 1917
  • Headquarters: New York
  • Number of employees: 2,400
  • Well-known clients: P&G, GlaxoSmithKline, Nokia, Volkswagen, and Canon

Founded in New York City in 1917, Grey became one of the world’s most renowned advertising and marketing organizations of the 20th century. It now operates in 96 countries and has 2,400 employees. While advertising is still their bread and butter, the blurring of lines between digital/social and offline marketing means they remain well placed to succeed.

What campaigns are they famous for?

One of Grey’s most famous clients is P&G, the company behind the Gillette brand. Following the #MeToo movement, Gillette (which has long lived by the slogan ‘The Best a Man Can Get’) acknowledged that some of its past advertising was perhaps not quite in line with changing social attitudes towards gender. So they employed Grey to create a short film, ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’. This shows men carrying out acts often associated with ‘toxic masculinity.’ More importantly, though, it progresses to highlight how men can play a part in calling out gender inequality by preventing sexist or toxic masculine behavior.

Source: YouTube

Not too surprisingly, this ad proved pretty divisive and caused quite an outcry on social media. Some called it feminist propaganda, while others embraced the message. But as they say, no publicity is bad publicity. Thanks to Grey’s ad, over a few days, Gillette racked up 1.5 million mentions on various blogs, social media sites, news outlets, and other digital sources. Proof that even (or especially) controversial content can be quite the game-changer in digital marketing.

9. TBWA\Media Arts Lab

TBWA\Media Arts Lab at a glance:

  • Founded: 2006
  • Headquarters: Los Angeles, California
  • Number of employees: 800+
  • Well-known clients: Apple (just Apple!)

TBWA\Media Arts Lab is one agency with one client: Apple. You read that correctly. This is Apple’s very own bespoke advertising and marketing agency. In 1984, TBWA helped launch Apple’s first home computer. And as the brand grew, Apple realized they needed a dedicated and confidential agency they could trust. TBWA\Media Arts Lab was born. It now focuses on advertising and marketing strategy, website design, performance marketing, PR, data, social media production, and more.

What campaigns are they famous for?

The answer to this one is basically any Apple campaign you’ve come across! However, one of their greatest is probably the “Shot On iPhone” campaign. Aimed at promoting Apple’s line of iPhones, the campaign combines both digital and offline marketing, but its digital presence is where the real success lies. Launched in 2015 to accompany the new iPhone 6, the campaign quickly took on a life of its own and has been running under its own steam ever since. Consumers still use the hashtag #shotoniphone all over social media.

A series of Instagram photos with the caption "Shot on iPhone"

Source: instagram.com

The success of this campaign lies in how it harnessed user-generated content on Instagram. Users can upload photos and share them to promote Apple’s products. Apple can easily find images to use in its advertising. The hashtag has even spawned its own memes. While these gently mock the campaign, they’re still forms of promotion. Not bad going for a humble campaign that was only supposed to support the launch of one new product!

10. LOLA MullenLowe

LOLA MullenLowe at a glance: 

  • Founded: 2006
  • Headquarters: Madrid, Spain
  • Number of employees: 300
  • Well-known clients: Uber Eats, San Miguel, Deliveroo, Burger King, and Jack Daniel’s

The final entry on our list is the Madrid-based digital marketing agency, LOLA MullenLowe. Despite being relatively new to the agency world, it’s ranked as one of the Top 10 European agencies of the decade, according to the Cannes Lions 2020 Report. Founded in 2006, it claims to be the most creative agency in Spain with a focus on creating fully-integrated omnichannel marketing campaigns that put people first.

What campaigns are they famous for?

Beauty brand Dove has been promoting equality and body positivity since its #RealBeauty campaign in 2004. They later partnered with Getty Images to produce over 10,000 diverse stock images of women of all shapes, ethnicities, and sizes. Over 2,000 companies downloaded these images to use in their marketing, helping tackle advertising’s reliance on thin, white women models. 

A person holding up a sign saying "Show us. It's on us." as part of a marketing campaign for Dove

Source: dove.com

With support from LOLA MullenLowe, Dove’s new #ItsOnUs campaign takes this work even further, with the brand actually paying other companies to use more diverse faces in their advertising. 

The agency produced a promotional video for social media with diverse models describing the negative treatment they’ve received at casting calls and explaining how Dove is helping to overcome this by paying for companies to use them as models. It’s a very clever strategy. By raising awareness of the issue, brands that aren’t engaging will be named and shamed by social media users. Meanwhile, Dove gets kudos for trying to tackle the problem. There are few better ways to build brand loyalty. You can read more about the campaign here.

Wrap up and further reading

There we have it! Ten of the best digital marketing agencies out there and some of their groundbreaking work. There’s a lot to learn from these agencies and their approaches. For instance:

  • Encouraging user-generated content puts consumers front and center, helping develop a social media buzz and increasing brand awareness
  • Entertaining or emotive videos prove to be some of the most sharable types of content
  • Breaking industry trends or habits can tap into whole new demographics while building brand loyalty with these new groups
  • Purpose-led, responsive marketing is at the center of digital right now; consumers want it and agencies need it

There are plenty of other digital marketing agencies breaking the mold with their work. Be sure to search and see what examples you can find of your own.

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