Bringing brands to life through engaging events
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Sean Barr

From corporate events and conferences to product launches, sales meetings and press events, agencyEA has a passion for pushing creative boundaries and captivating target audiences. The Chicago-based firm is equally passionate about its inspired team who do more than talk about big ideas; they make them happen.

Fergus Rooney, CEO and founder of agencyEA, is well recognized as one of the movers and shakers in the business, changing the face of the event and experiential industry one big idea turned reality after another.

“agencyEA brings brands to life through experiences that engage audiences,” he explains. “We’re very strong on the logistics side. Some people say we can’t do that on that timeline – I don’t think we’ve ever said that.”


Don’t just dream it, do it

“Anything can be done; you just need to develop the right approach to get it done and our team is great at building that approach and transforming ideas into actual realities,” adds Rooney, who established the company in 1999 alongside his wife Gabrielle Martinez.

Hailing from Dublin, Rooney got a lucky break to come to the U.S. in 1994. “I was working for an event production firm in London at the time,” he recounts. “We did the event production for Wimbledon, the British Open and even some work for Discover card – I’ve really been doing large-scale event production since I was about 16 years old. In 1988, I won a green card in a lottery and ended up coming to the states in 1994.”

Rooney found himself in the Windy City and landed a job at Blue Plate Catering. “I jumped in and helped grow the company substantially for about five years, but I knew I wanted to get back into high-level event production,” he tells.

Shortly after turning 30, Rooney made some major life changes. “We bought a house, had a baby and started Event Architects, now the EA in agencyEA, all in the same year,” he shares.

The firm operated under Event Architects for the first five years, starting with just four clients. “We added more and more and steadily grew, all over the country and globally, as well,” tells Rooney. “Eventually, we decided to drop the event part of the name because we were much more than that. We wanted clients to know we also offered graphic design, stage design, as well as a host of other creative solutions and audio visual support and strategic planning services as a full service, integrated marketing agency. Changing the name was a good move because we’ve grown even more ever since.”

agencyEA now employs a 64-person team located in the heart of Chicago’s characteristic River North neighborhood. “We’re based in Chicago, but agencyEA has grown to service large brands all over the world – North America, Australia, Europe – wherever they may be,” says Rooney. “The in-depth programs we deliver vary year to year; we’ve done 270 to 325 a year, but the projects differ in size and scale. Some take years to plan, such as the Hilton World Global Partners Conference, and others are smaller endeavors.”

Telling a story through fun and excitement 

As a full service, integrated marketing agency, agencyEA gets to know a client from start to finish, as well as the goals for the individual brand – what is the message they want to tell? Once the message has been identified, agencyEA sets out to connect the brand to target audiences through interactive and memorable events.

“The Hilton World Global Partners conference, which hosts a 3,000-person global audience, is one of our recent projects,” shares Rooney. “Hilton has 12 of the most successful brands in the hospitality industry and this event was all about showcasing the brand pallet. agencyEA managed every element of the program, including enriching production and creative work. We even formatted video presentations to play on a 200-foot screen – we did every stitch of it.”

Another standout for a major hospitality industry player is the Hampton 2014 Ultimate GM Huddle in Orlando. agencyEA partnered with Hampton to create an untraditional corporate event for more than 2,000 attendees, engaging general managers and renewing enthusiasm in Hampton’s unique culture dubbed: Hamptonality.

agencyEA managed all event messaging and communications across multiple channels, including a custom designed, interactive registration website for the event trade show and the 2014 Ultimate GM Huddle. The website, which served as an event know-all, tell-all, was recognized by Event Marketer magazine’s Event Tech Awards for Best Event Campaign website.

Larger than life

Just when agencyEA turns out a big event, the company aims higher and goes even bigger – such is the case with the unveiling of Boeing’s new 747-8 Intercontinental airplane to key stakeholders. “Boeing launched the new aircraft in Seattle at their production facility to a 10,000-person crowd, drawing national and global attention,” tells Rooney.

agencyEA created a powerful, larger-than-life event to match the largest commercial aircraft built in the U.S. and longest passenger aircraft in the world. The company handed all aspects of the reveal, including event concept, logistics, video production, graphics, on-site staffing, vendor management and entertainment.

It’s no wonder the firm’s inspiring projects have landed agencyEA top spots on acclaimed best and brightest in the industry lists from Chief Marketer Magazine to Special Events Magazine and Event Marketer, as well as the No. 2,834 position on Inc. Magazine’s 5,000 list of fastest growing private companies.

Collective talents

Rooney assures none of this would be possible without the firm’s top-of-the-line team from an array of backgrounds and expertise. “Our strength is in collaboration and seeing big ideas as a whole,” he says. “That’s why we frequently have full team meetings, incorporating key insight from marketing, design and production.”

“Our company is extremely creative,” adds Claire Prendergast, senior strategic communications manager for agencyEA. “We’re a vibrant and energetic team. There are people from film and television production, all the way to architecture and graphic design. We leverage these skill sets for the client and the project we’re working on.”

In an industry that requires a serious amount of dedication and time, Prendergast says agencyEA accomplishes bigger, better and bolder events as a unified, family-like team. “We work hard and because of that we’re like a family and we have an amazing sense of camaraderie.”

This is passed on to clients, which agencyEA continues to form lasting relationships with. “It all comes down to relationships,” assures Rooney. “If people know you can do something and trust you, they’ll entrust their work to you.”

For more than 15 years, some of the most influential brands have handed over their most precious projects to agencyEA.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
BBJ Linen
Pier and Associates
Verio Graphics