Tampa-based Advertising Agency Schifino Lee Celebrates 25 Years

Ben Lee and Paola Schifino

Ben Lee and Paola Schifino


Schifino Lee Advertising + Branding will celebrate its 25th year in business on August 19, 2018. Founded in 1993 by Paola Schifino and Ben Lee, SL is one of the few advertising agencies in the Tampa Bay area to experience such longevity. The organization has nearly doubled its revenues since 2013 and continues to innovate and evolve with each challenge or success that it faces. But like most 25-year-olds, the agency has only just started to reach its full potential.

SL comes from entrepreneurial beginnings, launching from a spare bedroom in Ben Lee’s home with just one client. Through the years, the agency has found continued success in its longtime mantra, Innovate or Die. The SL team prides itself on a forward-thinking mentality and fearlessness towards new ideas and technologies.

“In the early 1990’s, most agencies in Tampa Bay were mainly focused on design and graphics. They weren’t offering creative solutions that were tied to deeper strategic thinking. We saw an opportunity where the local ad community wasn’t delivering, and we jumped on it,” said Schifino.

Of course, no company makes it 25 years without adversity and SL is no exception. Roughly a decade ago, the agency’s office experienced a major fire that destroyed its entire workspace. Luckily SL was an early adopter of cloud technology, and its client data and electronic assets were unharmed. The fire also enabled the agency to move into its current Bayshore Boulevard space with striking views of the water.

The strategy of Innovate or Die has proven faithful to the agency time and time again. SL was the first agency to introduce Business Networking division of AT&T to digital advertising methods in 1999, and it was also one of the first agencies in Tampa to use geo-fencing for ad targeting. Today its consumer-oriented clients are generating significant results using social influencer campaigns, internet-based delivery services, and GPS-based foot traffic studies.

Again, with an eye towards innovation in marketplace decision making, SL has evolved its management team to be majority female. In addition to co-founder Paola Schifino, four of the agency’s six departments are led by women. The agency has subsequently introduced a number of new initiatives that have resulted in increased employee satisfaction and strengthened client relationships.

SL looks towards the future with enthusiasm and optimism. “Seeing our clients and team members achieve their goals has always been a great source of pride for me,” said Lee. “This year we celebrate 25 years of imagination and innovation. The natural next question is, ‘What’s next?’ Our answer is 25 more.”


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