The Variable has joined an exclusive group of the world’s most forward-thinking organizations, including Google, Amazon, Diageo, Alibaba, Etsy, Nestlé and others as one of Fast Company’s 2020 Top 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators. Now in its second year, Fast Company’s annual list of the Best Workplaces for Innovators, created in collaboration with Accenture, celebrates companies creating bold experimentation and innovation, and empowering employees at all levels to develop new ways of doing business.


“As much of the world recovers from health, economic and social crises, we need innovation more than ever,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “This new list of the Best Workplaces for Innovators celebrates organizations that have fostered innovative thinking by investing in technology, research and development and their employees.”


The Variable also becomes one of only two companies in the world to ever be named an Ad Age Small Agency of the Year (three times, actually) and to be named one of Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators. 


“The Variable combines the thinking of innovation consultancy with the doing of an advertising agency to drive real growth for businesses,” says David Mullen, president and partner at The Variable. “Brilliant advertising and experiences are critical, but they have to follow meaningful innovation. The two are inseparable. To fight indifference, companies must have a people-friendly innovation worthy of advertising.”


That vision drives the success The Variable has built working with globally recognized brands like P&G, Electrolux, Frigidaire, Char-Broil and Nestlé, a fellow Fast Company 2020 Best Workplaces for Innovators award winner. But innovation isn’t limited to the work the agency does with clients. It also develops new products, services and brands from scratch and spins them out when they’re ready to push forward. It has created nine new companies in the last three years, including:


  • Sunshine Beverages, a better-for-you, better-tasting energy drink created by The Variable that has since taken on private equity investment and recently celebrated more than 4.5 million cans sold through more than 5,000 retail locations. 
  • ROAMD, the first international network of concierge physician practices in the healthcare category. 
  • Patch, a startup that does for home repair what telemedicine did for healthcare. 
  • Kabook!, an extremely unique, technology-driven platform for creating the most epic children’s books that literally put your child in the book through customized copy and photo filters that match your child to the illustration style of the book.


The Variable also believes that innovation can come from anyone within any organization, including its own. The annual Good Idea Fair challenges everyone at The Variable, from receptionist to chairman, to pitch an original product or service idea to a panel of esteemed, successful judges from the business and venture capital community. And those good ideas have the potential to become real companies. For example, when an art director at The Variable had an observation that the peanut butter aisle hadn’t seen real innovation in 20 years, he created the idea for Peanut Better, which would go from concept to selling real jars across the U.S. in a matter of months (Read more at


By working to be anything but “just an advertising agency” and building a culture that fosters innovation in everything it does, The Variable has been able to draw incredible talent from cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago with backgrounds in innovation, startups, investment banking, strategy, branding, social and advertising to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Since September of 2018, the company doubled its team size, and in July of 2020 moved into a newly-built office space in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter


A major part of The Variable’s growth has been because of a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Over the past two years, the agency has made meaningful progress in diversifying its teams. Women now make up 60% of director and group director leadership teams. And almost 20% of its hires over that time have been non-white. To accelerate the company’s diversity going forward and to ensure its actions continue to reflect company values, it formed The Variable Vanguard, an internal board made up of team members to help drive priorities, programs, funding, transparency and accountability.


“We work in a business where our people are what literally make the difference instead of things like supply chain or distribution advantages, and more diverse backgrounds and experiences amongst our teams makes our solutions more impactful, more meaningful, more valuable,” added Mullen. “We’re extremely proud of everyone on our team at The Variable, who work hard every day to create change for us, our clients and our communities through innovation and creativity.”


For more information on Fast Company’s Best Workplaces for Innovators Award, visit


About The Variable

One of only two companies in the world to be named an Ad Age Small Agency of the Year and a Fast Company Best Workplaces for Innovators, The Variable is a business growth company that combines the thinking of an innovation consultancy with the doing of an advertising agency to build people-friendly businesses that overcome indifference. Clients rely on the company’s expertise in innovation, strategy, design, creativity, advertising, social media and PR to create value in people’s lives and to deliver exponential growth and value for their businesses. Whether it’s developing a new product innovation, a unique service offering, an unforgettable brand experience or the next great ad campaign, The Variable helps its clients rethink the way they think about their marketing investment. For more information about The Variable, visit: