It was just 2016 when Chief Creative Officer Geoffrey Goldberg and Chief Executive Evan Horowitz co-founded the company, which took the No. 3 spot on the Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Private Companies list this year by growing its annual revenue to $6.6 million in 2020, a 2,227% increase from 2019.
The company is on track to quadruple its revenue by the end of 2021.
Its employee count also has increased dramatically over five years from two to 75.
Reflecting this growth is the scope of its reach. The company’s campaigns on TikTok alone have generated more than 150 billion views. Inc. magazine listed it at No. 78 on its 2021 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America, Fast Company labeled it a Most Innovative Company and Adweek called it the fastest-growing ad agency in the world.
Goldberg and Horowitz’s success story is an impressive one, especially for co-founders whose original goal was simply “to spread joy,” as they told the Business Journal.
The seed idea for the company began when Goldberg, an up-and-coming Broadway performer and director, posted a dance video on Facebook, which generated nearly 30,000 views overnight.
Horowitz, a Harvard MBA marketer, saw the potential in its popularity for a creative agency that could cut through the noise of contemporary advertising and connect consumers with companies.
“The best advertising now, especially when you think about (a) millennial or Gen Z audience, is self-aware, and you’re not pretending that you’re anything other than a brand talking to you,” he said. “But if the brand talks in a fun way, it’s cool.”
Teaming up to form Movers and Shakers, the duo landed their first success with a campaign for Match Group capitalizing on the popularity of Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”
“What they were selling is that magical moment of meeting that new guy or girl,” Horowitz recalled. “They ran it as an ad on YouTube, where you can skip after five seconds. The average person stayed for over two minutes to watch the video.”
Goldberg explained that the “secret sauce” of their approach comes from “living in the crossover space creating amazing, joyful storytelling that moves people but also is extremely strategic and has brand priorities.”
But in the era of social media, there are more platforms than ever for companies to use to sell to consumers — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and so on.
Horowitz observed that each of those platforms requires a different format and approach, and almost none of those approaches is the same as the traditional advertising models that have existed for decades.
“Back in the ‘Mad Men’ era, it was all about your beautiful television commercial, and then companies would take that and resize it for Facebook and Instagram. But those don’t perform well because they don’t look native to that area,” Horowitz said. “So, we’re trying to educate our clients on how you create things that are native to the platform.”
As Movers and Shakers has grown as an agency, its clients have consistently fallen into one of two categories: market leaders looking for cultural relevance (“a cool factor”) and plugged-in mid-size brands determined to stay on the cutting edge of their industries.
But after working with companies like Amazon.com Inc., Target Corp., Johnson & Johnson and Netflix Inc., it’s clear that the company isn’t just reacting to what’s cool and culturally relevant but is anticipating and even helping determine what that is through its work.
“Our clients recognize that culture is moving at a much faster pace than years ago, and they’re struggling to keep up,” Goldberg said. “We do what makes sense to us based on what we’re seeing right now without the baggage of the rules and guardrails of things from years ago. It turns out that’s pretty innovative.”