Traction’s ‘Days of Action’ Help Staffers Take a Stand for Brands

San Francisco shop urges employees to speak out for public causes

(L. to r.): Jessica Baum, media and communications director; Sidney Burrows, client services director; Adam Kleinberg, founder, CEO; Emily Wheeler, service operations director. Back row: Theo Fanning, founder, executive director; Bear, canine relations director; Paul Giese, founder, technology director Traction
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Integrated design shop Traction launched out of a spare bedroom in founder and CEO Adam Kleinberg’s San Francisco apartment in 2001, a time when the idea of an integrated agency “was a novel concept,” said Kleinberg. Since then, Traction has evolved to include strategy, creative, technology and media and has worked with clients including Apple, Lenovo and Dolby.

Kleinberg cites agency culture as Traction’s real strength, noting the average employee tenure of four-and-a-half years. In February, Traction introduced a “Days of Action” initiative giving employees two paid days off to engage in civil action, inspired by the idea that “if people are civilly engaged, democracy will be better for everyone,” explained Kleinberg. The move eventually attracted national media attention—including criticism from conservative media outlets, which Kleinberg claims only served to further inspire Traction employees.

After Fox News visited the office, he said, “half a dozen employees told me how proud they were with what we were doing. We’re at the forefront of creating a movement, and people take great pride in that.” The initiative has also been an “enormously powerful pipeline for new business opportunities,” added Kleinberg. “We learned firsthand what it means to take a stand as a brand and have a clear picture of how to do that effectively.”

2016 Traction Reel from Traction on Vimeo.

This story first appeared in the Sept. 25, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.