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With adversity often comes opportunity, and Ad Age’s Small Agency Awards for 2021 will honor small, independent agencies that showed their strength and creativity by producing innovative and exciting work despite the overwhelming hurdles presented by the pandemic. The challenges that resulted from working remotely, production restrictions, client uncertainties and more only served to rally the small agency community,  which displayed a nimbleness and willingness to pivot that in many cases outshone their big-agency brethren.

These are stories we want to hear for our Small Agency Awards.  We want to know how your small agency adapted, survived and thrived during a challenging year. Given those hardships, while the entry forms ask for revenue figures and will still be taken into consideration, the bottom line will matter less this year than your creative product, your strategic thinking, your outcomes for clients and your responsiveness to your employees. View last year's winners.

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Finalists will be notified in June, and winners announced at the Ad Age Small Agency Conference & Awards in August. 

Questions? Contact Nicole Nelson

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Agency of the Year: Overall 
Regional, international and size winners do not need to enter separately or pay an extra fee; they are chosen from the entrants to the Agency of the Year category.

Agency of the Year: by Size. Awarded in three size categories: 1-10, 11-75, 76-150

Agency of the Year: Regional 
Awarded for the Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, West, Northeast and Northwest Regions of the U.S.

Agency of the Year: International
Awarded to international entrants who enter the Agency of the Year category.

Experiential Agency of the Year 

Experiential Agency of the Year will award one gold and one silver agency with 150 employees or fewer. 

Media Agency of the Year 

Media Agency of the Year will award one gold and one silver agency with 150 employees or fewer. 

Newcomer Agency of the Year 

Newcomer Agency of the Year will award one gold and one silver agency with 150 employees or fewer. Agency must have been in business for 18 months or less. Agencies founded after September 1, 2019, are eligible. 

Campaign of the Year: B-to-B

Campaign of the Year: Digital

​​​Campaign of the Year: Experiential

Campaign of the Year: Integrated

Campaign of the Year: Media 

Campaign of the Year: Pro Bono

Best Agency Culture

Agencies may win in more than one category. We award gold and silver in all categories.

Ad Age reserves the right to withhold or add awards as the quality of submissions dictates. If during the review process the judges feel your entry is better suited to another category and would like to award you in that category, the judges have the right to move your entry

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Samira Ansari

Executive Creative Director



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Jason Campbell

Executive Creative Director

Translation LLC


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Karen Costello

Chief Creative Officer

Deutsch LA

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Sherina Florence

Group Creative Director


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Mark Gross

Co-Founder and Co-Chief Creative Officer

Highdive Advertising

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Greg Hahn

Chief Creative Officer, Co-Founder

Mischief@No Fixed Address

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Jan Jacobs

Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer

Johannes Leonardo

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Margaret Johnson

Chief Creative Officer, Partner

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

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Fred Raillard

Co-Founder, CEO

Fred & Farid

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Elisa Silva

Partner, Managing Director

3Headed Monster

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Kash Sree

Executive Creative Director

The Community

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Garry Williams

Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer

Creative Theory

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Entry is open to agencies in three size categories:

•    1-10 people
•    11-75 people
•    76- 150 people

All agencies of all marketing disciplines are eligible to enter. Entrants must be majority-independent owned, or in other words, at minimum, 51% privately-held. Agencies who are not eligible are those who are either majority or fully-backed by a holding company (by this we mean firms like WPP, Omnicom Group, Publicis Groupe, Interpublic Group of Cos., Havas, Aegis or MDC Partners) or other firms, such as a publisher, marketer, etc.

Dates for submitted work

When discussing revenue/growth for the Small Agency of the Year award you should refer to 2020 financials and staff headcounts, giving as much guidance as possible for 2021 business. As far as submitting examples of work, all work done between January 1, 2020, and March 1, 2021 is eligible.

Entry info

If during the review process the judges feel your entry is better suited to another category and would like to award you in that category, the judges have the right to move your entry. Please note that all awards are based on the quality of the entries received each year. If the judges feel there isn’t a fitting entry within a specific category, they have the right to not award that category.

New this year

International agencies are now eligible to enter all of our categories, not just International Agency of the Year.

Entry concierge

Have questions about the program? Need an extra set of eyes on your entry form? Our entry concierge service is here to help.

We know these are challenging times, so a little extra guidance can make all the difference as you navigate the entry process. Contact Nicole Nelson with your questions to get started.

*We will do our best to get back to you in 24-48 hours, subject to timing and availability.

Entry fees

•    Agency of the Year: 1-10 Employees: $250

•    Agency of the Year: 11-75 Employees: $295

•    Agency of the Year: 76-150: $350

•    Experiential Agency of the Year: $295

•    Media Agency of the Year: $295

•    Newcomer of the Year: $295

•    Campaign of the Year - Experiential: $295

•    Campaign of the Year - Media: $295

•    Campaign of the Year - Integrated: $295

•    Campaign of the Year - Digital: $295

•    Campaign of the Year - B-to-B: $295

•    Campaign of the Year - Pro-Bono: $295

•    Best Agency Culture: $295

Final deadline

April 27, 2021, at 5 p.m. EDT

Here’s what you’ll need for:

Agency of the Year (and International)

Campaign of the Year categories

Agency Culture

General FAQ


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Got questions? We're happy to help.

Award Inquiries:  aaevents@adage.com