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UT grads grow startup into 'Advluence' ad agency


In a few short years, a Tampa-based advertising agency has expanded from a student startup into a full-service firm with an impressive social media following and newly revamped offices in South Tampa’s SoHo neighborhood.

Today, Advluence founder Ryan Littler aims for “influence in advertising” with local and national clients.

It takes a certain influence in advertising to earn 12.7K followers on Twitter organically. Local advertising agency Advluence achieved that notable stat in just over three years, much of which was spent as a one-man startup company.
 
Back in 2011, Advluence was born from a rebrand of founder Ryan Littler’s college startup. Today, the company is a full-service advertising agency with a handful of employees who offer clients full video and photography services, along with graphic design and custom branding.
 
“We have grown to doing everything from branding for The Outpost restaurant on Kennedy Blvd to multi-million dollar national security companies. But we got our start in Tampa,” says Littler. “We’re Tampa.”

Marketing transparency

Dabbling in design work since the age of 16, Littler developed Ryan Orion Agency, a startup with a focus on graphic design for restaurants and nightclubs in Tampa Bay, while still in high school.
 
After graduating from the University of Tampa with a B.A. in Advertising & Public Relations in 2011, Littler says he decided redevelop the brand, through which he’d been freelancing for “five or six years,” into a full-fledged business -- Advluence -- to “be more adaptable.”

“I guess I was good at it, because enough people called to get their design work done, and told their friends, and they seem to like what we’re doing,” says Littler.

Indeed, most of the agency’s business has been referrals; Littler estimates over 95 percent. 

“We got where we are today by bragging. We don’t brag, … our clients do,” is a catchphrase featured on the agency’s website and reiterated by Advluence Marketing Director Dylan Sellberg.
 
Advertising agencies often maintain a low profile, Sellberg says, but Advluence takes pride in sharing work for customers across social media profiles and maintaining a list of past and current clients on their sleek, modern website.

“We like to showcase what we do,” adds Littler. “We share everything that we’ve done on social media, because we think our clients are really cool.”

With over 50 clients in the past year and social media or web design work for another dozen or more on a monthly basis, marketing and advertising for clients has so far taken priority over marketing for the agency itself.
 
“I don’t like to think of us as a small startup, but we are in those terms,” Littler explains. “We want to establish our clients and make sure they’re happy, and then step into this culture of Tampa that we haven’t explored yet.”
 
Sellberg, who graduated from UT in 2013 with a B.S. in Sport Management and earned an M.A. in International Marketing and Brand Management abroad in Sweden, is a Google Adwords certified partner. Littler brought him on board for client SEO marketing expertise, and to help build the Advluence brand’s footprint in Tampa Bay.
 
“We want people to know that we’re here, in Tampa, and that we support Tampa business,” Littler says.
 
Building influence through advertising

Who is the ideal Advluence client? A passionate one.

“We’re open to people who are excited about their own brand. We want to be excited about it, too,” says Littler.

An assignment for Advluence’s videographers might include strapping into a helicopter and flying over Orlando, capturing aerial footage of people manning other ‘copters for a high-end training school, HQ Aviation. Other days, it could be producing some of the monthly video work the agency does for companies like Amani Forged, a custom wheel line based in Tampa and Miami.

“We get different $100,000 cars dropped off at our doorway, and it’s fun to go do these videos for Amani,” says Littler. “They have all these crazy custom wheels, painted custom colors for exotic cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. So we’ll go and drive these cars around and shoot video.”

“And we’ll go from doing that to doing, like, video of a gym like The Performance Compound,” Littler explains. “And then we’ll go and shoot a video tour of a medical facility.”

“I think the variety is the most fun part,” Sellberg adds. “Being able to do totally different things keeps the work interesting, and it keeps your mind sharp to mix it up a lot.”

Whether a client wants a video shot at two different locations or 20, Sellberg says, “prices fluctuate, but quality stays the same.” 

From local clients like Patel Conservatory to national business, projects are almost never one-off.

“If we do a business card for them, I guarantee we’ll do their website or a video down the line,” says Littler.

Creativity comes first

With amenities like a ping-pong conference table in a new office space that quadruples the company’s previous workplace on Davis Islands, Advluence is poised to maintain growth in their expanded offices at 1910 W. Platt St. in Tampa. Littler and Sellberg describe the agency’s new office as “an open war room with the best use of open space.” 

The Advluence team has “invested in a lot of new talent” locally, says Littler, from video and photo departments to graphic designers and a back end developer, and the agency continues to grow.

As Advluence develops, staying in touch with the creative core of advertising is part of the company’s vision.

“They can teach you graphic design, but they can’t teach you creativity,“ Littler says. “You can give somebody the tools, but if they don’t have the right mindset, then they’re not going to be able to entice our clients or their customers. We have the creative edge. That’s something that we put before all of our other work: creativity first.”

Justine Benstead is a freelance writer who can usually be found walking her dog in her South Tampa neighborhood, drinking far too much coffee, tweeting @JustineinTampa, and taking photos with her trusty Nikon. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Justine Benstead.

Justine Benstead is a feature writer and editor for 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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