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Mono Again Named "Small Agency of the Year"

The Minneapolis-based advertising agency received the national honor for the second year in a row.

Mono has been named "small agency of the year" by The American Association of Advertising Agencies-for the second consecutive year.

The Minneapolis-based ad agency received the honor earlier this week at the annual O'Toole Awards for Creative Excellence in Los Angeles. Gabriel deGrood Bendt, also based in Minneapolis, was one of five finalists in the small agency category, which encompasses companies with 100 employees or fewer.

Mono was recognized for the following four campaigns, all of which were executed in 2011:

• "Human Doing" for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: A man was placed in a glass-walled apartment erected inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, where he provided a model for passersby of how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

• "SoundAffects" for Parsons The New School for Design in New York: The interactive project involved a temporary wall constructed on New York's Fifth Avenue, which housed sensors that collected real-time data about the surrounding environment-from automobile traffic to shifts in the weather. The sensors-each of which was assigned a specific sound and color-produced audio and visual compositions based on the incoming data. Mono also collaborated with Minneapolis-based video services company Crash+Sues to produce a video about the project.

• "Blu Dot Swap Meet" for Blu Dot: A two-week online auction invited customers to submit "creative currency" in exchange for products made by Minneapolis-based furniture maker Blu Dot. Accepted bids ranged from taxidermy to Enron stock.

• "Do Whatever It Takes" for Virgin Unite: This campaign supported a fundraiser to fight youth homelessness. People could visit dowhateverittakes.org and pledge to do "whatever"-from eating fried worms to wearing underwear on their head-if certain donation goals were met.

"When we look back at 2011, it is our experiential work that shines the brightest and inspires us to keep thinking about how to solve problems in new ways," Chris Lange, Mono co-founder and creative co-chair, said in a statement. "Our goal is to continue being the best at simplifying and creating ideas that attract people to brands in a fascinating and meaningful way."

For being named "small agency of the year" last year, Mono received $125,000 worth of free media, and it decided to share the wealth. The company reversed the traditional request for proposals model by accepting pitches from potential clients, and it passed along its winnings to two new clients in the form of media campaigns. Virgin Unite was one of the winners in the RFP initiative, and the aforementioned "Do Whatever It Takes" campaign was the result.

Anne Deanovic, Mono's PR director, on Wednesday told Twin Cities Business that the agency hasn't been notified whether it will receive free media for this year's win-but if it does, the company "definitely plans to do something interesting again."

Mono is among Minnesota's 15-largest advertising agencies based on its 2010 revenue, which totaled $7.2 million. The agency's 2011 revenue-also referred to as gross profits-totaled $8.8 million, according to Deanovic.

Mono said that it's "in the midst of skyrocketing growth," and it has added several new clients in the first three months of 2012, including Wilson Racquet Sports, Angie's Kettle Corn, and the NHL. Advertising Age reported earlier this month that Target Corporation has also joined Mono's client roster.

Deanovic said that the 60-person agency is also looking to add employees, and it is currently advertising for six open positions on its website.

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