AdAge Names The Variable One of Advertising's Best Places to Work

February 10, 2023
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February 16, 2023
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In the latest of many accolades for its work, The Variable has been named one of Ad Age’s 2023 Best Places to Work. Ad Age’s annual Best Places to Work identifies and honors the best 50 employers in the marketing industry – including ad agencies, ad tech firms, brands, and more – based on an in-depth analysis of employer questionnaires and employee survey responses. Winning companies are those who scored highest on factors ranging from benefits and pay to leadership and corporate culture.

As Bradley Johnson, director of data analytics at Ad Age explained, making this year’s list required a strong concentration on offering fair pay, strong benefits, recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce, personal and professional development, and a healthy work-life balance.

“Easy to say—and hard to do,” said Johnson. “Ad Age Best Places to Work 2023 honors 50 companies for a job well done last year amid the challenges of a tight talent pool, uncertain economy and ongoing effects of the pandemic.”

The Variable ranked ninth overall out of 25 companies with less than 200 employees, was the only advertising agency in the Southeast among all 50 companies, and the only company in North Carolina on this year’s list. The distinction was driven by The Variable’s unique business model, its work, and its commitment to providing a higher quality of life for team members. Among the things available to all Variables include:

  • Healthcare policies that support everyone’s reproductive rights and choices
  • Monthly Volunteer Time Off  to support causes team members care about
  • A commitment to an inclusion-first environment and a dedicated DEI task force with its own budget – The Variable Vanguard – to help set DEI priorities, funding and agency leadership accountability  
  • Annually audited salaries to ensure pay equity across same positions regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation
  • Each employee gets $1,000 per year to reward their colleagues with Peer-to-Peer bonuses across the year
  • A hybrid environment, which includes fully remote team members
  • A generous PTO policy that recognizes work-life harmony

“We are far from perfect, but we do work really hard and intentionally to foster a team environment where people feel seen, known, honored, cared for, trusted and a part of something bigger,” said David Mullen, CEO of The Variable. “From top to bottom, we put our people first in every decision we make. Our leadership team is open and honest about how things are going even when we misstep or fall short of our goals and we aren’t afraid to tackle any topic together, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.”

The honor from Ad Age is just the most recent recognition for The Variable as one the best places to work, regardless of industry. In 2022, The Variable was named one of Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators for the third consecutive year making the agency the only ad agency in the world to appear on the list in each of the past three years. The Variable also joined Google, IBM, Nestle, SAP, Paypal, Stanley/Black & Decker and others as one of only 12 brands to make the list every year since 2020.

“Right now, I think a lot of organizations – not those limited to just the advertising industry –  are curious about how to be an honest-to-goodness best place to work and I think they are falling short because they get engagement and culture confused,” adds Hannah Rankin, Director, Innovation Design at The Variable. “A lot of companies are trying too hard to simply create opportunities for engagement with their employees, and that’s not creating a culture. Culture is when people are willing to show up at those engagements and bravely give it their all. Culture doesn’t happen without real vulnerability, real honesty and real stories. The Variable has created a space where people show up as their true selves unlike anywhere I’ve worked before.”

In 2021, The Variable, along with companies like Allbirds, Duolingo, Calm, Miro, Masterclass, Instacart and hims, was selected by Forbes as one of America’s 500 Best Startup Employers, a ranking that graded thousands of brands’ employer reputation, employee satisfaction and business growth. The agency has been named an Ad Age Small Agency of the Year three times and also is the only agency in the world to be a three-time Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators.

The Variable’s commitment to company culture has had a direct impact on the agency’s ability to build unique teams that help brands fight their biggest competitor – indifference – through advertising that drives growth for today and innovation that designs growth for tomorrow. The agency’s innovation offering, coupled with a proven track record of success in taking new innovation to market through breakthrough advertising, has led to incredible growth for its clients, the agency, and its team members. That has come together for successful partnerships with brands like Nestlé, P&G, NAPA Auto Parts, BASF, Frigidaire, Char-Broil, Scott’s Miracle Gro and Electrolux.

For a list of current opening at The Variable, visit

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