AKQA is a digital agency that specialises in creating digital services and products. It employs 2,100 staff globally.
AKQA has offices in Europe (Aarhus, Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, London, Milan, Paris, Venice), North America (Atlanta, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.), South America (São Paulo), Asia (Gurgaon, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Bali) and Australasia (Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney).
|Subsidiary of WPP plc|
|Founded||March 2001 in San Francisco, USA and London, England|
|Ajaz Ahmed, CEO and Founder|
Media, search and analytics
(Digital) Business Transformation and Consulting
Digital content creation and distribution
Social media marketing
|Revenue||US$ 250 million (2012)|
Number of employees
In 2001, the company became AKQA Holdings Inc. after an investment of $70 million by Francisco Partners and Accenture, with San Francisco as its new headquarters and four offices in the UK, US and Asia. AKQA was merged with three other companies: Citron Haligman Bedecarre, Magnet Interactive and The AdInc.
In the same year, Nike Run London, a new branded sports format with 10,000 runners taking part was launched by AKQA for Nike. A year later, in 2002, Run London sold over 20,000 places in a few hours using an e-commerce platform designed by AKQA.
In 2003, AKQA created ideashappen.com in collaboration with Visa USA and MSN. The platform asked people to submit entrepreneurial and community-based ideas. During its first month, the campaign attracted one million visitors. The agency also launched Nike Presto online with a collective of post-graffiti artists, where users could interact with art, sound and hidden animation.
In 2004, the New York office opened to increase access to East Coast clients and talent. AKQA also published AKQA Ideas: Volume 1, showcasing the agency’s work within 100 pages. The book sold out on Amazon, with proceeds for the sale donated to the NSPCC and Prince’s Trust charities.
AKQA Mobile was launched as a specialist division in 2006. In the same year, AKQA created the annual student competition Future Lions in collaboration with the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. This yearly competition has since challenged students to "connect an audience to a product or service from a global brand in a way that wasn't possible five years ago."
On its website, Francisco Partners reported selling AKQA to General Atlantic in 2006 (although some news reports listed this as 2007), terms not disclosed but the transaction was brokered by Morgan Stanley. In 2007, AKQA opened new offices in Amsterdam and Shanghai. The agency also acquired SearchRev and turned it into a dedicated search engine marketing practice. Revenue grew by 45%. Fiat eco:Drive launched at the Paris Motor Show: an in-car app that helps drivers reduce their CO2 emissions and fuel consumption.
AKQA was named on the AdAge Digital A-List in 2008. Work highlighted included the Coca-Cola "Happiness Factory" digital experience, the Halo "Believe" launch campaign, McDonald’s alternative reality game "The Lost Ring" and products such as the Nike Route Finder. Later that year, AKQA’s Christmas card – starring a chorus of harmonic microwaves – was a notable viral success and featured on more than 400 blogs. The following year, AKQA was named in the AdAge Book of Tens as one of the outstanding agencies of the decade, and won the Cannes Lions Cyber Grand Prix for Fiat eco:Drive in June 2009. Other notable work included the alternate reality game for Warner Bros 221b, the spoof film Alpine Legend for Xbox, and the campaign "Born to Run" for Save the Children.
In 2010, AKQA created key branded iPhone apps launching that year: Gap Style Mixer, Nike True City, Nigella Quick Collection, and VW Real Racing GTI. The agency also opened a third European office in Berlin. A year later in 2011, Nike Training Club, one of the world's most downloaded training apps developed by AKQA, wins awards worldwide. In the same year, the dual screening game Heineken Star Player that AKQA created swept the board of global awards. These award wins resulted in AKQA being cited "most awarded digital agency" in 2011 by the Gunn Report,.
In January 2012, AKQA opened a fourth European office in Paris, with Nike as founding client. Velocity was published, co-authored by AKQA founder and CEO Ajaz Ahmed, and Nike VP Digital Sport Stefan Olander, with a foreword by Sir Richard Branson. In June, AKQA joined WPP plc as an independent subsidiary within the world’s largest communications group. At the time it was reported that General Atlantic owned 80% and management 20%, although other published reports say General Atlantic "and other shareholders" owned 80%. Later that year, AKQA opened two new US offices in Atlanta, Georgia and Portland, Oregon, followed by an eleventh office in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2014, AKQA opened offices in São Paulo, Brazil and Gurgaon, India. In 2015, AKQA acquired Italian digital agency, H-ART, and later that year opened its first Scandinavian office in Gothenburg. In March 2016, AKQA took a major stake in software engineering and web development specialist Potato. In August that year, the agency launched AKQA Casa, the new building of their São Paulo office.In October 2017, AKQA appointed Alex Houghton as strategy director and Tim Baggott as associate creative director.
AKQA was among the top three of the best 25 companies to work for in Glassdoor's UK company review for 2016. The company also won the Internet Advertising Bureau UK's Agency of the Year 2016 title and was named Agency of the Year at the PromaxBDA Game Marketing Awards 2016 for its work across Activision, Bethesda Softworks, and Ubisoft.
Nike Rise House of Mamba, the basketball initiative AKQA created for Nike China, was featured in the 2015 Gunn Report, ranking first in both Asia's most awarded integrated/titanium work in 2015 and most awarded digital ads in 2015. In addition, the project was included in the top 10 campaigns of 2015 across all Gunn Report media. In 2015, AKQA was also named the most respected agency within Econsultancy’s annual report for the third year in a row – as voted for by other agencies entering in the Top 100. In 2014, AKQA won Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation, and was named Most Innovative Agency at 2014 Digiday Awards. 2013 was the agency's most successful year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to date. It won 14 Lions including a gold Cyber Lion for Nike+ Kinect Training and a Titanium and Integrated Lion for Nike "Find your greatness".
In 2011, AKQA was named Digital Agency of the Year by Adweek and Campaign magazines. Combining the results of all the significant advertising industry awards, the Gunn Report rated AKQA the top digitally-led agency of 2011. New Media Age also named AKQA the "most respected agency" as voted by industry peers.
In 2010, AKQA took home Agency of the Year for the second year running at the Revolution Awards, and Agency of the Year awards from New Media Age and the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In 2009, AKQA won five separate Agency of the Year awards.
AKQA has previously been named Revolution’s Agency of the Decade (1997 to 2007). In 2006 Creativity magazine gave AKQA its inaugural Interactive Agency of the Year award, recognising the agency's "global culture, creative hires and technological muscle." Creativity editor Teressa Iezzi said: "We thought AKQA embodied the spirit of the big-idea-first approach."
In 2018, research company Gartner positioned AKQA as an industry leader in its "Magic Quadrant" for digital marketing agencies. AKQA measured the highest in the company's ability to execute and its business transformation capabilities.
The 16th annual Webby Awards for 2012 were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on May 21, 2012 and hosted by comedian Patton Oswalt. Winners were selected from among roughly 10,000 entries and voting by the public for the People's Choice Award was available prior to April 26th. The awards ceremony was streamed live in HD on its website.Newly added to this ceremony were awards for the categories "Mobile Advertising," "Corporate Social Responsibility," and "Best Meme." The "Best Meme" Category represented the first time that there would be no individual credit and no award recipient apart from the meme itself.Adam Johnson (musician)
Adam Johnson is an American electronic musician, photographer and video artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota, currently living in Portland, Oregon.
His current discography includes releases on Musik Aus Strom, Global Underground, Narita, Warp Records (Bleep Comp 1), and his 2003 full-length album, Chigliak, on Merck Records. His music has been licensed by world class DJ's and record producers such as Sasha, John Digweed, John Selway and Way Out West. He has toured extensively and has played events throughout North America and Europe. Music Publishers and advertising agencies have also licensed Johnson's music to clients such as BMW, PBS, and the BBC. In 2009, the design firm AKQA commissioned Johnson to create original music for a series of advertisements for the handheld HD video recorder, "Flip Video Mino." In 2014, Fact magazine included Johnson's track, Anex, in "The 100 Greatest IDM Tracks" list.In addition, Adam Johnson is an award winning Photographer, Video Artist and Editor. He holds a BFA in Photography from the Pacific Northwest College of Art and is the recipient of the William H. Givler Thesis Award for his video entitled, "The Weather Where You're From. (2013)COPILOT Music and Sound
COPILOT Music and Sound LLC (commonly known as COPILOT Strategic Music + Sound, COPILOT Music, or COPILOT) is a New York-based music content and strategy company launched in 2008 by partners Jason Menkes (Executive Producer) and Ravi Krishnaswami (Creative Director). COPILOT provides music production, music composition, music licensing, sonic branding, sound design, and creative consultation services throughout the television, gaming, film, advertising, and interactive industries.Chloe Flower
Chloe Loh (born August 6, 1985) who is known professionally as Chloe Flower is an American-born composer, writer, producer and classical pianist.Digitalk
Digitalk is an annual two-days technology conference, organized by the Bulgarian business newspaper Capital weekly. Digitalk provides a place for discussion between creative professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and marketing executives on the future of the web. Speakers cover topics such as mobile marketing, online advertising, commerce, brand storytelling, and entrepreneurship. The first conference was held at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia, Bulgaria on September 26, 2011. Its topics addressed the influence of mobile technologies on business and society. Past speakers include Matt Mullenweg, Horace Dediu, Felix Salmon, James McKelvey, Sasha Bezuhanova, and others. The 2011 conference drew more than 700 people from all over Southeastern Europe.In 2011 the promotional campaign for Digitalk, created by Next-DC, won two golden awards at FARA, the Bulgarian fair for advertising agencies.The 2012 conference was held on October, 1. Its three central topics were the rise of entrepreneurship in Southeast Europe, mobile commerce, and digital brand storytelling. Speakers included Tom Eslinger, worldwide digital creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Ben Barokas from Google, Prof. Paul Kewene-Hite, former evangelist at Apple, Edu Pou, creative director at Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam, Miriam Healy from AKQA Berin, Jon Bradford, managing director at Springboard, Dieter Kopitzki, head of digital marketing at Audi, Jay Basnight, head of digital strategy at Puma, etc.Next edition of Digitalk is scheduled for June 3, 2013. It will be focused only on topics related to technology startups. The conference would be structured in three keynotes each covering the tree stages in the development of a startup - Early stage, Later stage, and Exit.Ecodrive
EcoDrive is a free software codeveloped by Microsoft and Fiat Automobiles. It was unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show and its aim is to allow drivers to reduce their fuel consumption and pollution emissions. It is now available for Fiat 500 and Fiat Grande Punto and in 2009 it will be available throughout the whole FIAT range equipped with Blue&Me.
The ecoDrive user application was written using Adobe Air to facilitate cross platform use by UK consulting firm AKQA.
When the car is being driven, ecoDrive collects all the data about CO2 emission and fuel consumption, by saving them to a USB key linked to the Blue&Me device. Afterwards, users can analyse and improve their results by connecting the USB key to a domestic computer. Moreover, ecoDrive allows users to receive driving tips on how to achieve a lower environmental impact and share experiences throughout an on-line community called ecoVille.Eurobest European Advertising Festival
The Eurobest The European Festival of Creativity (Formerly the European Advertising Festival) is an annual event which celebrates and rewards creative excellence in creative communications, advertising and related fields in Europe.
The first Festival took place in Stockholm, Sweden, in December 2008, based on the Eurobest Awards, which were launched in 1988. It regularly moves to different host cities; in 2009, it took place in November at the Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In 2010, it takes place between 7 and 8 December in Hamburg, Germany.In 2011, it was established the Festival would take place for three years at Cinema Sao Jorge in Lisbon. The third Eurobest in Lisbon took place from 4–6 December 2013.In 2017, the Festival will take place in London, United Kingdom.The Festival is organised by the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, owned by British publisher and conference organiser Ascential.Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk (born Gennady Vaynerchuk; November 14, 1975; Belarusian: Генадзь Вайнярчук, Russian: Геннадий Вайнерчук) is a Belarusian American entrepreneur, author, speaker and internet personality. First known as a wine critic who expanded his family's wine business, Vaynerchuk is best known for his work in digital marketing and social media, leading New York–based companies VaynerMedia and VaynerX.Inter-Activa
Inter-Activa Ltd is a UK digital lab that focuses in original Transmedia. They are also known for having created Machinima work (animation made with videogames) since 2000, virtual world content since 2004  and having promoted the use of videogames in artistic and educational settings  .International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences
The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences or IADAS is an international organization founded in 1998 in New York City to help drive the creative, technical, and professional progress of the Internet and evolving forms of interactive and new media.James Hilton (designer)
For the English author and Oscar-winning Screenwriter, see James HiltonJames Hilton is an English designer based in London.
He co-founded the creative agency AKQA together with Ajaz Ahmed in 1995 and over twenty years grew it to become one the worlds most successful digital agencies. In 2014 Hilton left AKQA to found the experimental design studio AtelierStrange and custom motorcycle brand Death Machines of London. He joined the acclaimed design company Native as their Chief Creative Officer in December 2016.Hilton attended Southampton Solent University (then referred to as Southampton Institute of Higher Education) from 1990 to 1994.Map Project Office
Map Project Office is an industrial design firm based in East London, working with both major brands and start-ups in the consumer technology space. The studio works with abstract technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality or the IoT, creating accessible experiences for the end user.Native Design
Native Design is a British design and innovation company whose work has been used by companies and institutions such as ABinBev, Audi, Bang & Olufsen, Baxter, BBC, Bentley, Bowers & Wilkins, Canal Plus, Coloplast, Diageo, Ford, Here, HP, Illumina, Microsoft, Nespresso, Novo Nordisk, Pernod Ricard, SFR, Skype, Santander, and Veon.Native works across the spectrum from automotive to consumer electronics, telecommunications and healthcare. The company is based in London and San Francisco and employs 200 staff.Saman Kesh
Saman Kesh (born Saman Keshavarz) is an Iranian-American filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California, United States. He is known for his narrative music video work for notable artists such as Basement Jaxx, Calvin Harris, Kygo, Placebo, !!! Chk Chk Chk, Vitalic, Apparat and Porter Robinson.In 2009, during his attendance as a film student at Art Center College of Design, Kesh came into light with his first music video for Cinnamon Chasers' first single: "Luv Deluxe". Luv Deluxe has received over seven million views to date, won SXSW Best Music Video award in 2010, and was shown in Saatchi & Saatchi's Director Showcase in 2010 at Cannes.In 2012, he went on to direct videos for Ed Sheeran, Deus and Calvin Harris, his video for the track 'Stamina' from French producer Vitalic sparked controversy with its thematic statements regarding weight loss and obesity in pop culture. The video resulted in Kesh winning his second SXSW 'Best Video" award in 2013.
In 2013, Kesh moved into the narrative world with his short sci-fi short film, Controller. The short received the No. 2 spot on Deadline Hollywood's 2013 ViewFinder's list, which polls Hollywood industry professionals on their favorite short films of the year.Later that year, he collaborated with celebrity author Bret Easton Ellis and the British alternative rock band Placebo on a short film series titled 'Unfortunate Details' which examined cases of sexual incidents gone awry. They were released as two music videos, for the band's album, Loud Like Love.
In 2014 Kesh served as overseeing advisor to a team of directors for Visa's "Samba of the World", a digital campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Made in collaboration with AKQA and COPILOT Music and Sound, this interactive music video experience allowed fans to listen and watch 32 different music videos, based on 32 different countries, in real time.
His video "Never Say Never", for Basement Jaxx details the development of a fictional product called TWERKBOT, a Twerking robot. The video features controversial themes on robotics, sexuality, and pop-culture. His most recent video for the 2015 YouTube Music Awards was for the artist Kygo, which featured an alien astronaut couple that crash-lands a costume party.
Kesh is currently developing several films to direct including CUBED setup at Lionsgate Entertainment, which is loosely based on the 1997 cult film, Cube. On April 24, 2015, Deadline Hollywood announced that Kesh will be adapting and directing a feature-length version of Controller with 20th Century Fox.Sea (advertisement)
Sea is an advertising campaign launched by Diageo in 2007 to promote Smirnoff brand vodka. It centres on a 60-second commercial created by J. Walter Thompson, which premiered on 17 August 2007 in showings of The Bourne Ultimatum at select cinemas across the United Kingdom. Various tie-ins were launched, including the "Smirnoff Purifier", an online game, point of sale "Smirnoff purity kits", and a tour of a custom-built "Smirnoff Purification Installation" used to make potable samples of water taken from saline or otherwise undrinkable water at selected sites. In all, the campaign cost £5,000,000 to create, making it the largest campaign ever taken on by Diageo for its Smirnoff brand.Solent University
Solent University (formerly Southampton Solent University) is a public university based in Southampton, United Kingdom. It has approximately 11000 students. Its main campus is located on East Park Terrace near the city centre and the maritime hub of Southampton.
Solent University students are represented by Solent Students' Union, which is based on the East Park Terrace campus.The Lost Ring
The Lost Ring was an alternate reality game (ARG) initiated by McDonald's, as part of their marketing for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. A co-production between McDonald's, AKQA, and Jane McGonigal, the game was notable for its global scope: taking place across six continents, in seven languages, and running for six months (29 February – 24 August 2008). It began with six amnesiac athletes with strange tattoos, and culminated in the "revival" of a fictional Ancient Olympic sport – which the narrative described as having disappeared 2000 years ago before the events of the game.WPP plc
WPP plc is a British multinational advertising and public relations company with its main management office in London, England, and its executive office in Dublin, Ireland.WPP owns a number of advertising, public relations, media and market research networks, including Ogilvy, J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam, Grey, IMRB, Millward Brown, Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, TNS, GroupM, and Cohn & Wolfe.
It is one of the "Big Five" agency companies, alongside Dentsu, Publicis, Interpublic Group of Companies and Omnicom.
WPP has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It has a secondary listing on NASDAQ.
On 14 April 2018, Martin Sorrell retired 33 years after founding the company. Roberto Quarta, chairman of WPP, became executive chairman.On 3 September 2018, Mark Read was appointed as CEO.