Up-and-Coming Digital Agency Scenes

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Portland and Minneapolis are taking over as digital creative hubs, taking the place of traditional scenes like LA, SF, and NY.

When you think creative hubs, Manhattan, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are some of the long-deemed cities that come to mind, but that is changing. With established, traditional agencies losing business to smaller, more nimble digital agencies, the advertising landscape is being reshaped, as are the cities that they call home.

Portland and Minneapolis are some of the hottest up-and-coming digital scenes. Below are some of the agencies that are putting them on the map, and the incredible work they're putting out.


Screenshot of The Real PSL Tumblr by Swift agency


Winner of the Northwest Gold for Ad Age's Small Agency of the Year Awards in 2014, this digital creative agency is 70 percent women. Though Swift has the ability to do traditional advertising, their sweet spot is social media and emerging networks, particularly with the millennial crowd.

In order to usher in the season of their most popular drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL to those in the know), Starbucks called on Swift. Knowing their audience, Swift gave PSL its very own Tumblr, called The Real PSL. Fans of PSL can "Ask a Latte" anything their heart desires, and re-blog PSL's Pinterest/Instagram-worthy pics.


Another Portland agency receiving honors from Ad Age, Roundhouserecently took home a Gold Award for Agency Culture. That's not the only thing they're doing right-Roundhouse has a slate of clients that top traditional agencies would be jealous of, including big brands like Adidas, Red Bull, and Xbox, just to name a few.

In an effort to help msnNOW reach the millenial audience they were hoping to capture, Roundhouse created a series of ads featuring viral video content to roll out on YouTube. According to Roundhouse, "the videos received over 64 million ad views and 130,000 click-throughs while contributing to the more than one billion impressions."


screenshot from Olson website of the


Though it might not seem like a hub for all things cool, Minneapolis's creative scene is paving the way for a full-blown boutique agency takeover. Just a few years ago in 2009, an article in Ad Age revealed that boutique agencies had all but taken over. In 2013, Olson brought in a staggering $90m in revenue (which is $30M more than any other Minneapolis agency) with massive brand clients Target, General Mills, and GoPro.

Projects like Cereal Wars and The Strudel Düdeler, social media campaigns used to General Mills' cereal and Toaster Strudel, show Olson's creativity in creating compelling brand content and using social media avenues to share it with the world.


After years at some of the biggest names in advertising, mono's founders decided to strike out on their own in 2004 and open an agency "with the belief that simpler is better." Since then, they'd been pulling in business from some of the country's most significant brands like Target, Honeywell, Herman Miller, and more.

Modern furniture company Blu Dot and mono created the Real Good Experiment, where they placed 200 of Blu Dot's Real Good Chairs throughout NYC, free for the taking. What resulted was 130 million media impressions with a grand total of $0 spent on a media buy. Talk about virality.


Login to Business.com

Login with Your Account
Forgot Password?
New to Business.com? Join for Free

Join Business.com

Sign Up with Your Social Account
Create an Account
Sign In

Use of this website constitutes acceptance of the Terms of Use, Community Guidelines, and Privacy Policy.

Reset Your Password

Enter your email address and we'll send you an email with a link to reset your password.