Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2016

Big Spaceship: The Evolving Agency

by Boris Groysberg and Matthew G. Preble


This case discusses the evolution of Big Spaceship, an advertising and marketing agency, from a product-focused business to a relationship-oriented one as clients seek deeper and more meaningful long-term partnerships. The 15-year-old company had already evolved multiple times over its history as new technological platforms and services emerged to change the way people communicated and received information, and as the broader advertising industry changed. New and more aggressive competitors were emerging, and the industry was quickly consolidating. Big Spaceship had adjusted its strategy, organizational structure, and human capital accordingly. The company’s founder and CEO, Michael Lebowitz, now wondered what he needed to do to keep his company competitive in the years to come. Had he found the right way to organize his people and structure the organization following the transition from project-based to relationship-based work, or were further changes necessary? How could he keep people engaged as the nature of the work evolved in some instances to become more predictable? What new systems and processes were needed to ensure a steady output of high quality work? Lebowitz was proud that the organization had retained a distinctly different feel from, and approach to work than, traditional advertising agencies, and Lebowitz and his colleagues wanted to maintain these intangible elements as the company evolved. But was this incompatible with his business goals?

Keywords: advertising; digital marketing; social media; Advertising; Advertising Campaigns; Marketing; Organizational Structure; Organizational Design; Organizational Culture; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Advertising Industry; United States; New York (city, NY);


Groysberg, Boris, and Matthew G. Preble. "Big Spaceship: The Evolving Agency." Harvard Business School Case 416-003, June 2016.