Duffy and Shanley Celebrates 50 Years of Iconic Contributions to the Ocean State

The Providence-based communications company has a long history of Rhode Island success stories, including the launch of the Big East Conference and the rise of Citizens Bank.
Dave Duffy

Founder Dave Duffy hanging the sign on the first Duffy and Shanley location (with employee Rose Giusti). Courtesy of Duffy and Shanley.

It isn’t every day that a homegrown business reaches half a century of operation, especially in this day and age, but Monday, February 13, was that day for the Providence-based full-service communications company, Duffy and Shanley (D&S). Originally founded in 1973 by David Duffy under the name DA Duffy and Co., the agency has evolved to remain both relevant and successful throughout the fifty years since. Rhode Island was home to more than forty agencies in the 1970s, but today Duffy and Stanley stands one of just two agencies in the state to have endured the test of time.

“Passion, intuition, creativity and responsibility are the core values that have helped Duffy and Shanley navigate through half a century in this business,” says the company’s president, Jon Duffy. “We understand how rare it is for a professional service company to survive and thrive for fifty 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.”

Best known for building brands and for both putting and keeping its clients (including many Fortune 500 and 100 companies) on the map, Duffy and Shanley also prides itself on the creative ad scrappy spirit on which it was founded. In fact, legend has it that the founding Duffy was able to land his first client, Reynolds Metals Development, with nothing but pure grit and an unwavering entrepreneurial spunk in his arsenal. He then drove growth with the addition of Tupperware, Old Stone Bank and Providence Gas Company. The addendum to the company name came in 1975 when Joe Shanley joined in on the fun. From there, Duffy and Shanley went on to have a hand in developing and elevating some pretty iconic Ocean State legacies, including:

1976: The agency handled James Taft’s gubernational campaign, kicking off a long history of political work with figures like Claiborne Pell, John H. Chafee, and Olympia Snowe.

1977: Newport Creamery came on board as a client. Fun fact: D&S is also responsible for naming the restaurant’s Jimmy Roll.

1979: Duffy and Shanley named and launched the Big East Conference. The conference’s offices were even housed at the agency for its first two years of operation.

1986: The agency took on its longest running client: Ocean State Physicians Health Plan, or as we know it today, UnitedHealthcare.

1987: D&S won the Citizens Bank account and helped it grown from a small Rhode Island bank into a major regional player.

1999: D&S kicked off an eleven-year relationship with Swarovski. This led to the fine jewelry company’s crowning of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree in 2004.


Current Duffy and Shanley agency office. Courtesy of Duffy and Shanley.

Following his father’s retirement in 2000, Jon Duffy, alongside partners Annette Maggiacomo and Michael Silvia, transitioned Duffy and Shanley into a nationally recognized firm in addition to its reputation as a local stalwart. The agency was tapped by numerous consumer brands, including Dorel Juvenile Group and Nike Golf, spawning the creation of the agency’s consumer practice. From there, it picked up steam with many national accounts, including AT&T, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dunkin’, Foster Grant and more.

Duffy and 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 helped Deepwater Wind (now Ørsted) launch the first offshore wind farm in the United States, and its advertising and digital group recently produced legendary creative for the Boston Globe’s 150th anniversary celebration, earning the agency an EPPY award for Best Promotional/Marketing Campaign. In fact, the last five years has garnered the Duffy and Shanley more than fifty awards from leading industry organizations in recognition for its public relations and advertising/creative work. In 2019, it was honored with a Super Bell Award from the PR Club of New England for its work on Dunkin’s Iced Coffee Day, a program that raised more than $1 million in support of Hasbro Children’s Hospital. And the nonprofit contributions don’t stop there: the agency has also supported (through financial contributions, organizations like Amos House, Boys and Girls Clubs, Crossroads, and Trinity Rep amongst others.

As Duffy and Shanley enters its next era, the firm aims to further grow its existing practices and continue to deliver the stellar 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,” says founder David Duffy. “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.”

Rhode Island Monthly’s president and publisher, John Palumbo, also looks back fondly on the firm’s success and longevity. Fresh from his graduation from the University of Rhode Island, Duffy and Shanley was his first “real” foray into the working world.

“I remember when I interviewed. There were six employees, and everyone sat around the conference room table and participated. For the next few years, life was a blur: running basketball tournaments, working with the Big East and the US Olympic committee and dutifully executing whatever idea Dave Duffy produced,” he recalls. “I was fortunate, truly blessed and would not trade my time there for anything. Here’s to fifty more.”

10 Charles St., Providence, 274-0001, duffyshanley.com