Barbarian Group co-founder & digital marketing pioneer joins GYK Antler on the heels of the agency acquiring B2B tech trailblazer Explorics
Manchester, N.H. — GYK Antler, a leading full service, mid-sized, independently owned marketing and advertising agency, has continued its evolution by growing its digital offering with the addition of Brian Costello, co-founder of the award-winning Barbarian Group. GYK Antler also announced the acquisition of Explorics (www.explorics.com), a pioneer and leader in advocate marketing services for leading B2B technology companies.
Co-founded in 2001 by Costello in Boston but currently headquartered in New York, the acclaimed Barbarian Group paved the way for digital marketing with a series of successful, groundbreaking campaigns for major brands like Nike, Volkswagen, and Burger King whose “Subservient Chicken” was perhaps the original Internet sensation. Costello’s new role as Chief Digital Officer, positions GYK Antler to continue to grow its already robust digital capabilities to a client base that includes Bauer, Sweet Baby Rays, Dyn, Moxie, ESPN and more.
In acquiring Boston area-based Explorics, GYK Antler joins forces with an experienced, technologically-savvy agency known for advocate marketing led by tech-first entrepreneur Brian Gladstein, an MIT and Stanford graduate. Explorics has worked with a number of notable clients including DocuSign, IBM, HubSpot, Verisign, Demandware and Bit9. Explorics has mastered the complex realm of advocate marketing, helping companies engage enthusiastic customers in their marketing. As EVP of Technology Marketing, Gladstein will lead GYK Antler’s efforts in marketing for B2B tech companies, consumer engagement and advocacy.
“GYK Antler has been delivering high quality work to clients for nearly 40 years and our range of services – spanning traditional advertising through innovative digitally-driven platforms – are continuing to evolve to meet our clients’ needs,” said Travis York, President & CEO of GYK Antler. “The addition of digital innovator Brian Costello and the acquisition of Explorics are just the latest in a series of strategic, tech-led moves for our agency. Our client partners rely on us to deliver forward-thinking and media agnostic strategies for their brands that can scale and evolve over time, which makes this an exciting time for us in this ever-changing marketing landscape.”
Throughout his 25 years in marketing, Costello, who served as the first Vice President & General Manager of Digital at marketing giant Valassis Communications for more than five years, has relied on digital concepts, the Internet and his entrepreneurial chops to find new ways to reach customers across the globe. Costello grew up professionally as the Internet-tech boom took hold. Barbarian Group has received countless accolades and was the first boutique tech-first company in the marketing world. GYK Antler will rely on Costello to continue to evolve the agency’s digital technology team.
“Technology and innovation is about providing solutions and strategies to customers that go beyond the ‘build this for me’ mentality,” Costello said. “A lot of people can build things based on a list, but what we are doing is looking holistically at our clients, how technology is integrated in all of their marketing efforts, and helping them create a path that is interesting, scalable, and grows their business. That may mean online, mobile, connected devices, in-store, event-driven or more—we are bringing solutions to where they will have the biggest impact for our clients.”
“Brian’s career so far speaks for itself, and his persistent desire to focus beyond the latest trends and identify emerging technologies that will hit five years from now is what makes this move so impactful for our agency and the brands we collaborate with,” York added.
Gladstein has launched dozens of products and Explorics is his second startup—the first was a professional networking company called Ticklr founded in 2008. Gladstein, who has held senior roles at RSA, Bit9, and a few other Boston startups, is also a co-organizer of the Lean Startup Challenge—a six-week startup competition in Boston. Brian is an expert at applying Lean Startup, Customer Development, and Business Model Generation practices to early-stage and growth-stage companies.
“As a leader in the field of advocate marketing, Explorics has been helping B2B tech companies reach buyers through consumer-like techniques: community, social, and content,” Gladstein said. “Our clients love this approach and want to see it on an even bigger scale. GYK Antler’s tech-driven culture and remarkable creative and programmatic talents will be a boon for our clients, and we are looking forward to building a strong business in the technology vertical together.”
“GYK Antler has already experienced considerable success as a marketing partner for the B2B tech industry with several clients, including Dyn,” York said. “We saw an opportunity to make a more significant commitment to helping to market companies in this space with the addition of Explorics.”
In an internal move designed to bolster the agency’s digital capabilities, GYK Antler promoted Leslie Witham to Lead Developer. Witham, who has worked for 12 years in the digital realm, has been working at GYK Antler for more than three years. In her new role, she will be interacting face-to-face with many of the agency’s digital clients, including the New Hampshire Lottery, Stamford Hospital, and ECHN. Prior to joining GYK Antler, Witham worked with big tech and healthcare clients, including IBM/Lenovo and CVS/Caremark.
“Leslie brings a breath of fresh air to the digital world with the mix of her considerable programming and management talents, positive energy and personality,” York said. “She will no-doubt play a significant role in helping GYK Antler continue to be sought after as a digitally-led yet full service agency partner.”
Agency Evolution and Growth
In 2012, GYK Antler built an in-house video production service known as Big Brick Productions. The video production element allowed the agency to capitalize on the fact that branded entertainment, native advertising, and other new media have created a unique opportunity for brands to lead with informative and entertaining content. In recent years, GYK Antler has worked with ESPN, Fox Sports, H&R Block, Boston Children’s Hospital, and more creating videos featuring high profile personalities including Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs, Kenny Mayne of ESPN, and Chicago Blackhawk’s center Patrick Kane, who starred in a Bauer video produced by GYK Antler that earned recognition as the “Best Viral Sports Video of 2013,” according to USA Today. The team also worked with ESPN to produce a one-year memorial piece of the Boston Marathon bombings, as well as on an hour-long documentary on kids and sports, featuring former President Bill Clinton and NBA star Kobe Bryant.
In early 2013, the agency acquired the social and experiential marketing boutique Antler Agency and has since fully integrated Antler into the agency’s arsenal of services. GYK Antler has developed and enhanced social media and consumer engagement efforts for Breville, Moxie, PF Flyers, New Hampshire Lottery, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and more. Other notable clients include America’s Test Kitchen, Boston Bruins, Blue Marble Brands, National Geographic, Stamford Hospital, Versatile, and United Bank.
In September 2014, GYK Antler announced it will relocate its headquarters to a 55,000-square-foot, seven-story historic mill building located in the heart of downtown Manchester, NH in early 2015. President & CEO Travis York recently purchased the former R.G. Cigar Factory Building along with his four brothers, whose family owned the building and an athletic shoe company in the 1960’s through the early 1980’s. The agency has grown from $9 million in billings in 2005 to over $16 million today and has added satellite offices in Boston and Los Angeles.
“Many ad agencies encounter challenges bridging the gap between offering cutting edge creative design and providing the latest digital services,” continued York. “We have made a legacy of transforming business and creating long-lasting relationships by delivering a truly integrated service offering across multiple channels. These latest digitally-led additions further increase our capacity and will enable us to continue to deliver measureable results for our clients.”
About GYK Antler
GYK Antler is a full-service, digitally led marketing agency that has thrived as an independently owned and operated shop since 1975. It has become a haven for all-star marketing talent with 70+ employees in Manchester, NH, Boston, MA, and Los Angeles, CA. GYK Antler boasts a world class in-house video production offering (Big Brick Productions) which has received many prestigious awards including Emmys, Tellys, and recognition from USA Today for producing the Best Sports Viral Video of 2013. GYK Antler’s robust client-partner list has included a diverse group of elite brands including Bauer Hockey, Sweet Baby Ray’s Gourmet Sauces, ESPN, Boston Children’s Hospital, vitaminwater, PF Flyers, New Hampshire Lottery, National Geographic, LabTV and more. GYK Antler’s integrated service offering includes Strategy & Planning, Branding & Design, Audio Branding & Music Supervision, Content Creation, Video Production, Media Planning & Buying, Social Media & Consumer Engagement, Web & Mobile Development, Experiential & Events, and Reporting & Analytics.