2020 Year in Review

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What. A. Year. It’s certainly not a stretch to say that—globally—2020 was one for the record books. Yet, even during challenging times life happens: people get married, babies are made, babies are born, and we learn, adapt, and grow. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that you can always find a silver lining—as long as you keep looking. Here’s just a taste of our silver lining from this past year.

We celebrated a decade together!

Grown from humble beginnings in a Northern California winery storage room in 2010, we rounded out 2020 (and our 10th birthday!) with well over 400 Firewood employees across the globe (now nearly 4,000 people strong when we stand alongside our sister companies at S4). We believe that to produce work that better represents and resonates with the world around us requires collaboration between people with varying backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and skill sets in an environment where people feel comfortable expressing themselves and their viewpoints. So, to that end, we genuinely care about what our people think and ask for their opinions—a lot. That’s why it means so much to us that in 2020 Firewood was named an Ad Age Best Place to Work. What a great way to celebrate our 10 years together!

We stood up for what we believe in

We believe that change starts with each one of us. So, in July 2020 we joined agencies around the world taking action to ensure that voices of all who are underrepresented or marginalized are heard by publicly posting our diversity data and our pledge to #CommitToChange. Along with our S4 family, we participated in an employee donation-matching drive for five organizations that champion racial equity and justice: NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, Equal Justice Initiative, United Negro College Fund, and Campaign Zero.

October found us celebrating the launch of the S4 Capital Fellowship Program—a four-year immersive accelerator program for graduates from historically Black colleges and universities—that will deliver meaningful work experiences, mentorships, and apprenticeships with our most senior leaders as well as formalized and on-the-job learning. In November we also welcomed our first two Firewood interns, who are honing their digital media skills with us as part of our partnership with Hack the Hood. And we are absolutely honored to maintain ongoing partnerships and support of organizations like ADCOLOR, 3% Conference, and ONE School

We did good

Social responsibility is at the heart of who we are. And we believe it’s our responsibility to support organizations that champion human dignity. Through our platform for giving, Firewood in the Field, we directly support community-based charitable organizations with financial contributions, donated marketing time, and volunteer efforts.

Leveraging our expertise in Google Ads, Google Ad Grants, and social media, Firewood employees provide pro bono digital marketing services as well as support on creative projects to help charitable organizations—specifically those that support the underserved in our communities—earn more visibility for their philanthropic vision.

We’ve partnered with numerous nonprofits over the years, and in 2020 provided pro bono services to the following charitable organizations.  

 

An integral part of Firewood in the Field is our Season of Giving program, made possible by employees across our seven offices who nominate organizations they find inspiring and in line with the Firewood values we hold dear. This year we are proud to continue this tradition and donate $10,000 to three employee-nominated nonprofit organizations, each with a long history of service, whose missions and work to support and empower our communities are true demonstrations of what it means to champion human dignity.

Field Lane

Field Lane helps people to live their best life, with full-time care and accommodation for adults with special needs and learning disabilities. I chose this organisation because of my younger brother and when I learnt they’re a charity-based organisation, it quite surprised me. It made me think about how a charity like this is able to get enough funding to pay for its care homes, carers, bills, facilities—everything basically—and this reminded me of the importance of donating and giving back to society. It’s clear Field Lane makes a huge difference to the lives of those who really need the help.” —Firewood Senior Art Director Carl Tarry

Feeding America 

“This year it’s especially important to donate to organizations like Feeding America. With so many out of work or struggling with unstable income due to coronavirus, more people are finding themselves taking advantage of programs like this for the first time. Feeding America has estimated that food insecurity could rise to affect as many as 50 million people in the US, including 17 million children. So by donating, we can help people put food on the table and relieve them of at least that stress.” —Firewood Senior Copywriter Mandy Haga

Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly (LBFE) 

“My grandparents were very important to me and helped me realize the importance of our society’s oldest members and their wisdom and experience. LBFE connects volunteers with older adults who are at risk of isolation and loneliness, helping them feel connected, remembered, and honored by providing them support and companionship. I have been volunteering with the organization for about 20 years, primarily during the holidays when my family and I visit with senior citizens, this year via phone calls.” —Firewood Senior Proofreader Carrie Hadler

We made things we’re proud of

We believe in delivering quality work that adds value—at speed. And we’ve crammed a lot into the year! In addition to collaborating on client projects with our sister companies across the S4 family, we expanded the industries we cover—significantly—doing much more work in financial services, fast-moving consumer goods, and retail, to name a few. And we expanded our services to include a methodology for conducting inclusivity and representation audits of client marketing programs. All in all we delivered over 3,000 different projects across six continents (no, we don’t have a client in Antarctica…yet!). Here’s a sampling of our work.

  • Google | Honoring excellence in the transgender community. Our Firewood team led the charge for the Google Transgender Awareness Week campaign that launched in November 2020 across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on the @google handle. Our team provided strategy and community insight, bringing in external consultants to develop partnerships with trans-led service organizations while we worked to create tech-based solutions (using Google’s tools) to help solve problems facing these organizations.
  • YouTube | YouTube.com/ads website redesign. YouTube Advertising helps businesses of all sizes succeed as online video marketers. Collectively, our Google Ads embedded strategy team and The Shop at Firewood partnered to redesign and launch the new YouTube Advertising website. We worked with the YouTube SMB marketing team to redesign the site from end to end, including driving a website design sprint, conducting UX research, designing the site visually and architecturally, developing content strategy, project-managing the site across numerous internal and external stakeholders, and more. 
  • LinkedIn | Stories launch. Firewood partnered with LinkedIn to help launch its new, much-anticipated Stories feature globally. LinkedIn’s challenge was to make Stories feel unique and relevant to its professional platform and to educate a broad swath of members—experienced and not. For the flagship US launch, we partnered with LinkedIn and IMA (our S4 sister agency focused on influencer marketing) to engage top LinkedIn influencers—Mark Cuban, Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Daymond John, and others—for custom content, and developed a launch video shown at the top of members’ LinkedIn mobile feeds.
  • YouTube | End-to-end email support. One of YouTube’s primary growth levers is their robust email program. Our team launched an integrated, end-to-end support model for email campaigns—from briefing and creative concepting to development and deployment—that utilizes a templated approach. The result was a flexible design system that drove increased optimization and efficiency across campaigns.
We shared our knowledge

We believe that diverse viewpoints drive innovation and deliver more authentic and creative outputs. But we don’t just believe, we do. And then we share. In 2020, our experts and leadership were called upon to share their knowledge in epic proportions via participation on speaking panels, published articles, and media pickups. Here’s a sampling of articles we shared. 

We highlighted ways to produce work that better represents and connects with the world around us:

We also suggested ways to produce more powerful work:

And offered encouragement by sharing some of our own stories:

And managed to stand out from the crowd

We have the best clients and are inspired by them every single day—they fuel our inspiration and are the reason for our tremendous growth in the past few years. This year we were thrilled to be selected as an Adweek 100: Fastest Growing Agency and Adweek top 10 Fastest Growing Large Agency, both for the second year in a row. We also ranked as Silicon Valley’s No. 1 Largest Agency for the second year in a row and the No. 1 largest agency in the Bay Area. And, also for the second year in a row, Chief Marketer recognized Firewood as part of its CM200 Top Marketing Agencies list.

Most important to us, though, is when we’re recognized for the culture and values we hold dear

In 2020, Firewood was honored as a Digiday Worklife Awards Employer of the Year finalist, a distinction awarded to employers that have demonstrated a high level of commitment to innovative culture, social good, employee growth, work/life integration, and diversity. And our co-founder and president, Lanya Zambrano, was named a Campaign US 40 Over 40 honoree, a designation that honors executives for their noteworthy contributions to the advertising industry.

Through it all, we stuck together—even when apart

We found all kinds of new and creative ways to keep our company culture strong even in isolation. We had tons of fun hosting virtual organization-wide activities—cooking classes, family storytelling, and contests like Name That Tune, to name a few. And from magic shows to cocktail making, cheesemaking classes to escape rooms, our nearly 30 internal teams took their team-building activities online. Our Firewoodian work-hard play-hard mentality took a right turn toward inner well-being with a focus on the eight pillars of wellness. Our exercise club went virtual with a full schedule of exercise classes that challenged Firewoodians and their stay-at-home partners, kiddos, and roommates while our spiritual sages brought advice down from the stars in weekly tarot and astrology readings. And given the potential for loneliness and isolation during the pandemic, we zeroed in on mental health with weekly guided meditations and numerous company-wide communications about mental wellness benefits, and our co-founder Lanya Zambrano shared her touching, deeply private story about the importance of mental health and wellness. To top it off, Firewoodians from all over the world came together (virtually) nine times in 2020 for transparent communication and a way to stay connected.

Thank you

As the sun sets on 2020 and we look forward to 2021 full of hope, optimism, and enthusiasm for what’s ahead, we want to send a big thank-you to our Firewoodians across the globe. Your dedication, positivity, and humanity got us through this challenging year. We did it together. And there are many more amazing things awaiting us on the road ahead!


About Firewood Team

Firewood is a global digital marketing agency founded on the idea that good people are good business. With a model that focuses on speed, quality, and value, it partners with top tech brands, startups, and Fortune 500 companies—including Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Salesforce, Cummins, and other key clients—providing strategy and insights, creative, performance media, events, and technology services. Firewood was named an Ad Age Best Place to Work 2020, ranking No. 13 of the Top 25 (201+ employees). Firewood also ranked No. 1 on the San Francisco Business Times’ list of largest Bay Area advertising agencies (2020), No. 1 on the list of largest advertising, marketing, and PR agencies in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal (2019 and 2020), and an Adweek 100: Fastest Growing Agency (2019 and 2020) and Top 10 Fastest Growing Large Agency (2019 and 2020). Founded in 2010, Firewood is headquartered in San Francisco with seven offices in four countries and over 400 employees. In October 2019, Firewood merged with global creative production company MediaMonks to become the digital marketing arm of S4 Capital (SFOR.L).