As opposed to many of its self-owned brethren, Triple Threat Communications isn’t interested in becoming a small cog in a large holding company machine. “We measure our success a little differently,” notes head of agency Tim Frank. “It’s not about our growth. It’s about the cool stuff we launched.”
Frank admits that one of the key challenges Triple Threat faces is continuing to evolve while ensuring that its core DNA as an independent, brand-first agency does not get diluted in the process. At the same time, he and his peers believe that great work leads to revenue growth, that focusing on client brands matters more than focusing on their own brand. Recent results bear him out: Triple Threat enjoyed 10% revenue growth over 2014, landing just south of $15 million in 2015.
“We created the agency to address the need to be more focused on brands,” Frank says. “As agencies get bigger, they get driven by profit/loss and other public company shareholder-type concerns. We’re not driven by that. We’re driven by doing what’s best for the brand.”
Frank adds that this disconnect often starts with an agency’s leadership. As the most talented people climb the corporate ladder, they get farther away from the brands they work with, delegating tasks to a team of less experienced staff. “They wake up thinking what’s best for the firm,” he says. “It doesn’t make sense.”
So Triple Threat focuses on hiring time-tested pros who handle the majority of client work themselves. “We get people who are tired of managing at the big agencies,” notes Bob Hogan, head of consumer services. “They say, ‘I don’t want to lead 10 people. I want to lead the brand.’” Headcount grew to about 20 full-time staff from 15, with 30 to 40 freelancers.
As for the aforementioned “cool stuff,” its projects in 2015 included a rebranding effort for specialty pharmaceutical and medical device company Innocoll and the launch of a science-technology platform for AstraZeneca’s respiratory franchise.
“One of the interesting things about it is that it’s not just a platform for respiratory,” Hogan explains. “It allows multiple drugs to be delivered in a consistent fashion.” He adds that Triple Threat has expanded its relationship with AstraZeneca beyond the respiratory space.
In the remaining months of 2016, Triple Threat plans to launch an online behavioral science assessment tool based on Stanford University psychologist B. J. Fogg’s behavior model. The tool, which will be available on Triple Threat’s website, is designed to help marketing teams adjust their thinking and the way they work.
“It gives an assessment of the relative degree of difficulty of what clients are trying to accomplish. It also gives the ideal mix of contacts that we need to provide them in terms of motivation, messages, or interactions, and the proper triggers to remember to do these things,” explains Frank.