Angie’s List Picks Arnold Worldwide as Its Lead Creative Partner

Wants to be known for more than just reviews

Seeking a creative reboot, Angie's List has tapped Arnold Worldwide as its lead agency. An integrated branding campaign for the marketplace that offers local services and customer reviews launches in the coming months. 

Arnold, a Boston-based unit of Havas, added the assignment following a formal competition led by Joanne Davis Consulting. Previously, the client worked with various agencies, such as independent Bradley and Montgomery, to craft its campaigns. Horizon Media handles most of the company's media buying chores. 

Client co-founder Angie Hicks had long appeared in ads as the company's spokesperson. She also serves as CMO, and said Arnold was tapped based on its ability to create compelling work and "improve our marketing effectiveness." Of late, the agency's best-known efforts have included the evolving "Flo" series of ads for Progressive Insurance and an Instagram push for Jack Daniel's revolving around music legend Frank Sinatra.

Arnold's first work for Angie's List will target consumers "across demographics who are looking for services to help them manage their home lives," said Pam Hamlin, the shop's global president. Millennials represent a potent "growth opportunity" for the brand, and constitute a key audience for upcoming direct-response TV, digital outreach and experiential activations, she said.

Traditionally, ads for Angie's List have focused on the site's ability to provide "reviews you can trust." That won't necessarily change, Hamlin said, though the campaign will attempt to "add dimension to the brand beyond reviews," while continuing to highlight the company's fair-price and quality-service guarantees.

Angie's List has spent north of $80 million on ads in recent years, per Kantar Media. Its outlay in domestic media for the first nine months of 2015 totaled $60 million.

Despite that investment, Angie's List has struggled as competitors have turned up the heat. Recently, however, its fortunes have started to improve.

In October, the company reported the first profitable third quarter in its history, tallying a modest $82,000, compared to a loss of $5.2 million in Q3 2014. In fact, Angie's List narrowed its loss for the first nine months of last year to $3.9 million from $27 million during the same period in 2014. Last November, Angie's List rejected an unsolicited $512 million buyout bid from Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Group, marking the second time it spurned the advances of that particular suitor.

The company now looks to build some momentum, which could make it a more attractive acquisition target—and one able to command a higher purchase price.

From Arnold's perspective, Angie's List represents a much-needed boost after a rocky stretch that's lasted a year. One of its largest clients, the University of Phoenix, launched a review in September, and the shop chose not to defend. What's more, the agency's new-business engine has slowed. Its last major score was the National Association of Realtors, which it won six months ago.

"There's no better way to kick off the year than by embarking on an exciting new client partnership," said Hamlin. "They have an incredibly strong leadership team that believes in the power of a great creative idea and marketing's impact on fueling brand and business growth."

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