Tombras Group

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Charles Tombras Advertising, Inc.
The Tombras Group
Formerly called
Charles Tombras & Associates
Privately held company
Industry Advertising
Founded 1946
Founder Charles Tombras, Sr.
Headquarters 630 S Concord St, Knoxville, Tennessee, United States of America
Number of locations
4 (2016)
Area served
United States
Key people

Charles Tombras, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer
Dooley Tombras
Executive Vice President
Nigel Carr
Chief Strategy Officer
John Welsch
Chief Marketing Officer
David Jacobs

Senior Vice President & Director of Digital Innovation and Strategy[1]
Services Advertising, Marketing, Digital Media, Social Media, Branding, Media Buying, Public Relations
Revenue $130 million (2015)
Number of employees
155 (2015)

Charles Tombras Advertising, Inc., dba The Tombras Group, is a full service advertising agency founded in 1946 and headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, noted for its national advertising campaigns in the United States. In 2015 The Tombras Group was honored as National Small Agency of the Year, presented by Advertising Age.[2] The Tombras Group has aligned its mission and core competencies in support of its mantra: "Connecting data and creativity for business results."

With annual billings of $130 million, Tombras is one of the top 25 largest independent national advertising agencies. Tombras is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee with offices in Washington, D.C.; Louisville, Kentucky; and Nashville. Tombras offers advertising, creative development, web design and in-house programming, branding, media buying, public relations, social media, content development, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), integrated marketing communications, analytics and marketing research services. Tombras is a member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA).[3]


The company was founded by Charles Tombras Sr. in 1946, doing business as Charles Tombras & Associates. By the 1960s, notable clients included the Tennessee Valley Authority[4] and AAMCO Transmissions.[5]

Charles Tombras Jr. joined the firm in 1966 after he returned from a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he commanded a platoon in the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 8th Cavalry Regiment ("Jumping Mustangs"), was awarded the Bronze Star, Bronze Star for Valor, and Air Medal, and attained the rank of 1st Lieutenant.[6] Tombras Jr. was commissioned after his graduation from the University of Tennessee, where he was enrolled as a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadet. He remains a notable supporter of the university, having created the Charles Tombras Memorial Scholarship in the school's College of Communications & Information.[7] His service to the university was recognized with the awarding of its 2013 Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award[8]

When the senior Tombras retired in 1982, Charles Jr. took over as president. Under his presidency, the Tombras Group has grown from 25 to over 150 employees and added offices in four states plus Washington, D.C..[9] Charles Jr.'s son, Dooley Tombras, now represents the third-generation of Tombras family leadership, and is currently acting as executive vice president.

Notable Campaigns[edit]

Click It or Ticket / Drive Sober / Distracted Driving[edit]

Since 2004 Tombras has launched annual campaigns for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using the “Click It or Ticket” message.

Additionally for NHTSA, Tombras developed the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign to combat impaired driving as well as the distracted driving campaign to communicate the dangers of distracted driving.

The April 11, 2014 issue of Adweek Magazine named a Tombras Group distracted driving TV commercial the number one TV spot in the world for the April 4th - 11th time period.[10]


Working with McDonald's since 1972, Tombras is one of the chain's longest tenured agency partners. Tombras has developed notable national campaigns, including those for new product launches like Chicken McNuggets, Mickey D's Sweet Tea,[11] and Scratch-Made Biscuits.

Orangetheory Fitness[edit]

After an extensive national advertising agency review process, Orangetheory Fitness, the energizing and fast-growing fitness franchise, hired The Tombras Group as its creative agency of record. The national and international brand campaign, launched in late 2015, will be integrated across all media channels to support the goal of expansion from 250 locations in 2015 to over 600 locations expected by 2017.[12]


ESPN Events tapped Tombras to build several websites to help sell tickets for Football Bowl Games and Basketball Tournaments they sponsor. This project included creating and updating landing pages for 9 basketball tournaments and 11 bowl games.[13]


Ekornes, the Norway-based creators of Stressless® seating hired Tombras as agency of record for two key global markets: North America and Asia. The agency leads the brand's digital and traditional media, social media, email marketing and public relations. Tombras also redesigned the Ekornes global website and manages analytics programs for six major countries.[14]


Tombras was hired in 2014 to overhaul the MoonPie website with the goal in mind of increasing traffic, engagement and conversion rate. The Tombras Group creative team developed an “outta this world” premise on which the site design was based: MoonPies are actually made on the moon! [15]

Farm Bureau Insurance[edit]

Farm Bureau Insurance Tennessee hired The Tombras Group to increase sales of Auto, Home and Life insurance. The Tombras Group conducted research which revealed that many consumers thought they had to work in the farming industry in order to be eligible to purchase Farm Bureau Insurance products. To educate consumers, Tombras developed a TV and digital campaign based around a wise, friendly farmer named Charlie who gives sage advice, the best of which is that "you don't have to be a farmer to save money with Farm Bureau Insurance."

Media Planning and Buying[edit]

Tombras does media planning and buying in all media, both digital and traditional. This includes the utilization of an in-house demand side platform and their own ad servers to target digital media programmatically. It places advertising for its clients regionally, nationally, and internationally. Through the use of cutting edge technology and enterprise-level analytics programs, The Tombras Group connects data and creativity for business results.


  • In July 2015, The Tombras Group won the Silver medal for National Agency of the Year for agencies with 76-150 employees at the 2015 Advertising Age Small Agency Awards. The competition, which took place on July 30 in Boston, included hundreds of agencies from all over the country.[16]
  • In March 2014, Communication Arts featured a Tombras campaign for the Highland Games, a traditional Scottish festival that takes place annually in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The posters feature authentic Scottish silhouettes set against beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery.[17]
  • Tombras TV spots have 3 times been named by Advertising Age Magazine as one of the ten best-liked and most recalled spots in America.
  • In 2014, The Tombras group won more ADDY awards than any other agency in the Southeast, winning "Best of Show", five "Best of Category" awards, 81 Gold and 76 Silver ADDYs at two American Advertising Federation (AAF) events held in Knoxville and Northeast Tennessee. This represents the most wins by any agency in Tennessee during the 49-year history of the event.[18][19]
  • At the 2012 Southeast District ADDY award presentations, Tombras won 19 awards, more than any other agency in the Southeast. The agency received Gold awards for campaigns for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountain Convention & Visitors Bureau, as well as multiple awards for web design, mobile design and email blasts.[20]
  • At the 2012 Knoxville AAF ADDY award presentations, Tombras won Best of Show Overall and Best of Show Interactive and Print for work for the Smoky Mountain Convention & Visitors Bureau. The agency received a total of 52 Gold awards, 93 Silver, and 53 Bronze.[21]
  • In October 2011, the EnergyRight®Solutions[22] website that Tombras designed for the Tennessee Valley Authority was named among the best utility websites by Fierce Energy, a global company that tracks advancements in the energy industry.[23]
  • In 2011 The Tombras Group was awarded a national Silver ADDY award for cinematography for its BAM! campaign for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.[24]
  • At the 2011 Southeast District ADDY awards, Tombras Won two gold ADDYs, one for its BAM! campaign for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the other for an interactive energy information kiosk for TVA. It also won five silver ADDYs.[25]
  • At the Knoxville AAF 2011 ADDY awards, Tombras won Best of Show Overall, Best of Show Interactive, and Best of Show TV awards as well as the Judges Choice award for a University of Tennessee Athletics Department campaign. In addition, Tombras won 31 Gold and 88 Silver awards.[26]
  • At the 24th Midsouth Emmy Awards in 2010, Tombras won a best PSA spot award for its Nailed safe driving campaign for the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office.
  • At the 2009 National ADDY Awards, Tombras won a Gold ADDY for The Festivals website produced for the Smoky Mountain Convention & Visitors Bureau.[27] In addition, Tombras won a Silver ADDY for its own website,[28]
  • In 2009 Tombras won Best of Show and Best of Print at the Knoxville ADDY Awards for its Low Impact Vacation campaign for the Smoky Mountain Convention & Visitors Bureau. The agency also received two Gold ADDY Awards and seven Silver ADDY Awards at the AAF District 7 ADDY Awards.[29]
  • The Robert McCabe Silver Award for excellence and creativity in advertising was won by Charles Tombras Sr. in 1985 and Charles Tombras Jr. in 1998.[30]


  1. ^ Bloomberg Business, "Company Overview of Charles Tombras Advertising, Inc.", accessed June 4, 2015.[1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ American Association of Advertising Agencies
  4. ^ Broadcasting, February 26, 1968, "Broadcast Advertising," p. 31 [3]
  5. ^ IEEE Spectrum, September 1968, "Advertisers", p. 156. [4]
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ University of Tennessee Knoxville, College of Communications & Information, "CCI Scholarships", [6]. Accessed Thursday 4 June 2015.
  8. ^ University of Tennessse Knoxville, Tennessee Today: News & Events for the UT Community, "Advertising Executive Tombras to Receive Alumnus Award", November 5, 2013 [7]
  9. ^ Carly Harrington, "Ad Man Charlie Tombras Meets the Challenge," Knoxville News Sentinel, 24 June 2012. Retrieved: 24 June 2012.
  10. ^ [8]
  11. ^ [9]
  12. ^ [10]
  13. ^ [11]
  14. ^ [12]
  15. ^ [13]
  16. ^ [14]
  17. ^ [15]
  18. ^ [16]
  19. ^ [17]
  20. ^ [18]
  21. ^ American Advertising Federation-Knoxville
  22. ^ [19]
  23. ^ Fierce Energy
  24. ^ [20]
  25. ^ [21]
  26. ^ [22]
  27. ^ [23]
  28. ^ [24]
  29. ^ Knoxville News Sentinel
  30. ^ AAF-Knoxville

External links[edit]