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TOP AGENCY 2019 INTERVIEW – (Alan Gilleo, CMO - LEAP Group)

For the 6th consecutive year, the Horizon Interactive Awards competition has provided additional, non-entry recognitions through our Distinguished Agency awards. These awards are given based on the achievement of the sum of all work entered into the competition by an individual designer/developer or agency. The Top Agency award is considered our highest non-entry honor and we would like to congratulate LEAP Group, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky as the 2019 competition winner.

With us today is, Alan Gilleo, CMO of LEAP Group to discuss the Top Agency award distinction that they have earned in the 18th annual Horizon Interactive Awards Competition.

HIA: Alan, Thank you for taking the time to talk with us. First off, what does it mean to you, your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Alan Gilleo - LEAP Group:  This is truly an honor. Over the past 20 years of being in business, I have seen our teams work harder and harder and improve year over year. I continuously get excited about the work we produce for our clients and how we put into practice our mantra to “Market Less. Matter More.” to produce unique and amazing experiences for our clients’ consumers.

HIA: We are all in an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 quarantines and business shut downs. How is your agency doing and what steps are you taking to help your clients with their Digital media, messaging, creative, etc.

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: When we learned of the coronavirus, our first thoughts as a business went to our employees and our clients. Our top priority is safety for both parties. Thankfully, we have always maintained a flexible and remote work style, so we were prepared to adapt. But we wanted our clients to learn quickly and efficiently that we are here for them, as their agency partner, during these unprecedented times.

Our entire company has gone into high gear and has created highly creative, well- researched and impactful recommendations and strategies for each of our clients. We knew would have to pivot quickly during this time and help our clients do the same.

LEAP Group is a digital-first, consumer experience network of agencies. This background has proven out during this time as we’ve had to use digital media and digital strategies very extensively to ensure we’re reaching the right audiences. We are providing our clients quick adaptations that were still on-brand, but allowing them to connect with their consumers in new, even more meaningful ways.

HIA: Tell us more about your company. Talk, if you would, about how it started, how it has grown, what changes you have seen in the company, etc.

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: We started in 1999, so we’re of legal drinking age this year! Back then, we were on the cutting-edge of digital experiences as websites. A lot of people at the time thought that websites were a phase – would come and go as quickly as bell-bottoms. But we knew it wasn’t just a trend.

And that really is the philosophy we’ve maintained ever since, with new technologies coming out. We have wanted to remain the experts in latest digital and technological innovations, combining that same level of passion to all mediums of advertising and marketing.

We have seen that grow into our current structure: LEAP Group. LEAP Group’s consumer-centric, data-driven approach creates a seamless journey for customers across all digital, physical and virtual touchpoints. Our “Market Less. Matter More.” point of view means we partner with brands to understand their target audience to guide an informed strategy.

Within the LEAP Group network, we have 6 wholly-owned agencies. Our network was purposely built to address the ever-complex demands on today’s marketers. Within our network, we have:

LEAP Matter – Branding + Creative Agency
LEAP Frame – Content Production Agency
LEAP Amp – Amplification + Media Agency
LEAP Agency – Full-Service Digital Agency
LEAP Spark – Full-Service Project Agency

As more brands are moving toward needing full-service agency service as well as projects to continue to move their brand forward, our structure speaks to our mission of providing scalable solutions and transformative results to diverse brands. We are able to team up and scale in any way to fit client’s needs and provide the best experience for their consumers.

HIA: How will you continue produce industry leading work, especially in light of the current events and as we look forward to a recovery - hopefully soon?

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: We are definitely looking forward to a recovery soon! We miss our office, we miss each other and we miss seeing our clients face-to-face.

In the meantime, we are staying on top of our client’s digital plans and providing thoughtful pivots where they are needed. We will continue to produce industry leading work in the midst of adversity and change because we embrace our obstacles.

We have built a leadership culture who is undaunted by interference, they just figure it out and push through to the other side. Companies who aren't developing leaders will fail. Those who are focused on building a leadership culture will not only recover but they will thrive. Baby steps are for the weak and cautious. Those who lead, LEAP.

HIA: What makes Leap Group special? (People / Teams / Philosophy / etc.)

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: This is tough! There is so much about our brand that I am proud of. Our diverse team of experts really is something I look forward to learning from every single day. I am constantly astounded by our team, their outside-of-the-box thinking and their ability to meet challenges head-on, and overcome them. We have a really great team complete with problem-solvers and innovators.

HIA: Talk a little about the types of projects that contributed to the recognition that you have received in this year’s competition. Leap Group received over 30 wins in multiple categories with 5 Best of Category recognitions.

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: We are so honored. Of course, it is never our priority to produce work for awards – it is our priority to produce work that is relevant to our brand’s consumers. When that happens to win “30 wins in multiple categories with 5 Best of Category” recognitions, that’s just icing on the cake and affirms that we’re doing something right.

Our work for Hershey’s included creative that lived on the largest billboard in Times Square. The goal was to have consumers go in the Hershey’s store to experience all products the brand has to offer. We were able to measure both social and in-store engagement in real-time.

We were really excited to partner with Adweek for our Ads, Lies & Videotape webinar, which was produced entirely in-house. The hour-long webinar discussed video industry trends and how brands can produce videos on budget, on time and that produced engagement with their consumers.

The team completely revolutionized an iconic Kentucky brand. By revamping Kern’s Kitchen’s, the home of the Kentucky Derby’s Derby Pie, website to allow for e-commerce sales, increased sales by over 100%. Kern’s Kitchen can also provide a “slice” of the Derby, if you will, while the Kentucky Derby has been historically postponed this year.

We are proud of our clients and proud of our work for them. Our team always seeks to provide experiences that we can measure and optimize to ensure its hitting the right consumers with the right message, on the right channel at the right time.

HIA: Speaking more generally, what trends are you seeing in the industry and how digital / interactive media is evolving.

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: Trends are going to be more difficult to capture this year. We are already seeing data being skewed due to the effects of COVID-19. But what will always remain imperative is a brand’s ability to engage with their consumer. We are seeing new ways how brands are able to do that through digital and interactive media and marketing efforts.

I wouldn’t say this is a new trend, as much as current events have brought this point home. The companies that put their time and effort into creating meaningful and valuable consumer experiences and adapt to that consumer feedback are the ones that are thriving.

HIA: What do you feel is the biggest benefit from being a participant in the competition.

Alan Gilleo - Leap Group: We value the opportunity to learn from other brands, as well as learn from the work we produced over a year. Not to mention, it’s incredibly affirming to learn our work is not only resonating for our clients, but also is award-winning work. (And it never hurts to surprise a client with an award as well. They like to win as well!)

HIA: Alan, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.  We are truly excited to share your story with our audience as well as promote the great work you do. Once again, congratulations on the Top Agency award. You should be very proud of this achievement. We wish you continued success this year and hope to have you back in future competitions.