Duffy & Shanley Celebrates 50 Years in Business

PR/Ad Agency Reflects on Five Decades of Iconic Work, Clients, and Memories

PROVIDENCE, R.I.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Providence-born agency Duffy & Shanley marks 50 years today as a creative, collaborative, integrated communications company. Founded by Dave Duffy as DA Duffy & Co. in 1973, the agency was one of more than 40 in the state. Duffy & Shanley has evolved and innovated to remain relevant and successful today – one of just two agencies in Rhode Island that has stood the test of time since the 1970s.

“Passion, intuition, creativity and responsibility are the core values that have helped Duffy & Shanley navigate through half a century in this business,” said Jon Duffy, President, Duffy & Shanley. “We understand how rare it is for a professional service company to survive and thrive for 50 years and are incredibly grateful to the people who have supported us on this journey – the Providence business community where we’ve grown up, our clients who have trusted us to tell their stories, and, of course, our many employees whose ideas have made magic. We started from humble beginnings and are so proud and thankful to be where we are today.”

Duffy & Shanley distinguishes itself as an agency that builds brands and attracts attention for its clients – including many Fortune 500 and 100 companies. It has been fueled by the creative and scrappy spirit of its founders who opened the doors 50 years ago.

Dave Duffy, armed with grit and entrepreneurial spunk, landed his first client, Reynolds Metals Development, and then drove growth with the addition of Tupperware, Old Stone Bank and Providence Gas Company.

By 1975, Joe Shanley joined in on the fun, and the firm was officially renamed Duffy & Shanley, Inc. The agency’s early history as a premier New England communications firm has many highlights – including some iconic work:

  • In 1976, the agency began its long history of political work by handling James Taft’s gubernatorial campaign. Over the years, D&S would work for United States Senators Claiborne Pell, John H. Chafee and Olympia Snowe. It also would play an integral role in state business, including tourism, economic development and the RI Convention Center.
  • In 1979, the agency won the Newport Creamery account and later named the Jimmy Roll.
  • Also in 1979, D&S named and launched the Big East Conference, whose offices were housed at Duffy & Shanley for the first two years.
  • The Providence Journal hired D&S in 1985.
  • In 1986, D&S began working with Ocean State Physicians Health Plan, which would become UnitedHealthcare, and the agency’s longest running client.
  • D&S won countless awards for advertising and public relations work through the years, but in 1987, it nabbed a National Silver Anvil Award from the Public Relations Society of America for its Old Stone Bank work, the highest honor for public relations campaigns…. and another in 1991 for the Horsemen’s Benevolent Association.
  • In 1987, D&S won the Citizens Bank account, and over the next decade helped it grow from a small Rhode Island bank to a major regional player.
  • By 1995, D&S became the largest agency in RI by revenue.
  • In 1999, D&S kicked off an 11-year relationship with Swarovski which, among lots of sparkly work, led to the crowning of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2004.
  • Dave Duffy retired in 2000, handing the reins to a new generation of leadership under his son, Jon Duffy.
  • Jon Duffy – alongside partners Annette Maggiacomo leading the consumer PR group, and Michael Silvia leading the advertising group – began the transition to a nationally-recognized and locally-heralded firm.

At the turn of the century, Duffy & Shanley was tapped by numerous consumer brands, including Dorel Juvenile Group and Nike Golf, spawning the creation of the agency’s consumer practice. Throughout the 2000s, D&S picked up steam with many national accounts, many still current clients, including AT&T, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Deepwater Wind (now Ørsted), Dunkin’, Foster Grant, Hanesbrands, Staples, Stride Rite, and more.

In addition, the agency’s energy practice, which began through launching the first offshore wind farm in the United States, continues to play a key role in the growth and future development of the agency.

Duffy & Shanley’s advertising and digital group also continues to produce legendary, iconic creative, most recently for The Boston Globe’s 150th anniversary celebration, earning the first place EPPY award from Editor and Publisher for Best Promotional/Marketing Campaign.

Over the last five years alone, Duffy & Shanley has garnered more than 50 awards for its public relations and advertising/creative work from leading industry organizations. In 2019, D&S won a Super Bell Award from the PR Club of New England for its work on Dunkin’s Iced Coffee Day, a program that raised over $1 million to support Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

Duffy & Shanley’s work has impacted many different sectors during its lifetime: Retail, consumer products, financial services, education, healthcare, public affairs, government relations, and more. The agency’s contributions to the business community extend to the nonprofit sector, by supporting various organizations through financial donations, pro-bono work, and service, including Amos House, Boys and Girls Clubs, Crossroads, American Heart Association, Rhode Island Public Health Institute, Trinity Rep, and others.

Duffy & Shanley has been remarkably nimble in its ability to transform and evolve with the dawn of digital marketing, social media, and the ever-changing media landscape. As it enters its next 50 years, Duffy & Shanley has its sights set on growing its existing practices and continuing to deliver the stellar work and service its clients have come to know and rely on.

“I launched the firm in 1973 out of necessity. There was no grand master plan or strategy,” said David Duffy, the Founder of the firm. “Never in my wildest dreams did I envision the thriving entity that it has become. I couldn’t be prouder of what the agency has and will accomplish.”

About Duffy & Shanley, Inc.

Based in Providence, R.I., Duffy & Shanley is one of the largest independently-owned communication firms in New England. A uniquely integrated, full-service agency, Duffy & Shanley develops breakthrough campaigns for Fortune 500 companies and leading brands, including AT&T, BJ’s Wholesale Club, College Ave, Dunkin’, Foster Grant, Ørsted and Hanesbrands. Visit duffyshanley.com, or Duffy & Shanley’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for more information.


Annette Maggiacomo

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