Reaching a new generation of consumers is a challenge every established brand faces. How do you speak to them? Connect with them? Get them interested in your brand? That’s one of the challenges Hugo BOSS brought to us.
Taking on one of America’s all-time favorite brands. Now that’s an advertising nightmare. But what used to be a special treat has become a daily part of every meal, leading to a serious weight problem in this country. So we had to create something memorable. And boy did we. Visually showing what happens to all that sugar inside your body. It wasn’t an innocent liquid you were drinking, it was basically pure fat. The “Are you pouring on the pounds” advertising campaign we created became one of the most talked about advertising campaigns of all time. Ranked right up there with Calvin Klein’s iconic underwear ads as one publication put it. Our “drinking fat” viral video was one of the most-watched public health videos ever. And no one in New York City left the subway without our glob of fat image permanently seared into their brains. Did it work? Absolutely. It brought worldwide attention to a serious issue. Even today we still meet people who can’t get this graphic image out of their heads and tell us that it was the turning point in never enjoying a soda the same way again. Sorry, Coke.
Think about it. Someone says “Private Bank.” What does that evoke in your mind? Probably not modern, progressive or innovative. So how do you attract the self-made millennials and Gen Z’s, the self-service generation, the tech-savvy? That’s the brand challenge we explored for J.P.Morgan Private Bank. What did we find as we dug deep? As with many brands, misconceptions did not match the reality. What our target thinks a Private Bank is, what it does, and who it’s for, are not what’s actually happening behind those doors. That’s the truth we brought to life in this approach. Hitting them directly with we know what you think, and we’re not that. Wingtips? Wrong, we’re about wings. Conservative and limiting? Nope, we’re about liberating you from financial minutiae. Perfect for that someday, when you’re well-off, über rich? Sure. But we’re more for your today, while you’re still enterprising, still expanding, still earning. It’s the kind of transformative yet brand-smart thinking that we love the most.
That’s the challenge smokers in New York City gave us. After all the anti-smoking advertising they’d seen over the years, our “suffering” ad campaign was the first one that had finally hit home. We made them see that it wasn't about dying from smoking, it was about how much they were going to suffer before they died. They were convinced to quit. But how? How could New York City help them? Technology became our answer. We built the NYC HelpMeQuit app based on research that showed if you could distract yourself for even just a few seconds when a craving hit, there was good chance the craving would go away and they’d slowly get less intense over time. It’s a small part of a very difficult journey, but it’s a good example of the thinking we do that’s outside of the advertising box.
Cable TV. Satellite providers. They rank right up there (or more accurately, down there) among the least popular consumer brands and categories. So acquiring new customers can be quite a challenge, because your target may not particularly like you. And that’s just the type of challenge we love. When DISH reached out to us for ideas on how we’d approach their acquisition efforts, we knew we couldn’t ignore this universal unpopularity. As we started to dig, we discovered that the founders of DISH were hard-working, small-town entrepreneurs who started their business to bring high-quality, technologically-advanced yet affordable TV to the parts of the country the other guys were ignoring. To us, these founding values had weight, and set DISH apart from the cable/satellite company monoliths. We therefore proposed re-branding DISH as the brand that truly understands rural America’s values and needs, because it has from the beginning. Our brand platform was captured in one word—homemade—which we transformed into two words that said even more: Home Made. This positioning connected the DISH brand instantly with an America where making things from scratch, and working with your own hands, are strong core values. An America where budgets are tight, and value is paramount. Across brand advertising concepts, direct mail, email, social and digital channels, we leveraged each platform to highlight key elements of how this was the one brand that really understood their values. DISH was the brand that made their home more affordable. That made their entertainment budget work harder. That made their home even cooler with the latest tech goodies. That even made it more peaceful, by giving everyone the ability to record and watch their own programs without some DVR conflict triggering another sibling wrestling match. In short, DISH made their home a place that was even more about them, backed by DISH’s #1 customer service ranking from JD Power. So you see, when messaging that hits home with a brand’s target is your specialty, you don’t have to work in America’s heartland to connect with its great people. You can be a New York City ad agency that manages to find the words that reach anyone across our diverse landscape.
Planning for retirement is something every one of us seems to put off. But why? It turns out it’s often because it’s a topic we don’t understand. We feel nervous, not in control...it stresses us out. For AXA, helping them introduce a brand new retirement product designed specifically for educators, meant letting teachers know it was OK to be anxious. OK to be stressed. But that by partnering with AXA, they could be in control of their own futures. Positive, encouraging advertising messages on social posts, in direct mail, email, collateral and more helped teachers see that planning for retirement was something to embrace.
The quick answer? Kumon is the world’s largest after school learning program. But here in the U.S. a lot of parents didn’t know that. Or even why they should consider an academic program for their kids. Worse, Kumon’s brand had been lumped in with competitors that were tutoring centers. Not places kids, or parents, were fond of admitting they needed to attend. So we needed a brand message that said why Kumon was different. Why Kumon wasn’t just for catching up in school, but also where you came to get ahead. To be first in class. To study material way ahead of the other kids. Six simple words made that happen: Kumon. Where Smart Kids Get Smarter. Suddenly, Kumon became the place parents wanted to have their kids seen attending. Even better, it became the place kids asked their parents to take them because as one kid put it, “it’s where the smart kids go”. Now we keep building on that message, getting it out in all of their social and digital ads, landing pages, paid search, email, television, radio and direct response advertising. We’ve grown leads by double digits, year over year. So it looks like a lot of kids really do want to get smarter.
“Bank speak”. It’s what no bank customer wants to hear. Instead, they want clear, easy-to-digest messaging that helps them make the right decisions about financial products and services that can meet their needs. That ability to translate even the most complex, into language and creative that meets the needs of their millions of customers, is a key reason Chase turns to us, every day, across their entire spectrum of marketing communication needs. Whether it’s email, digital ads, social, direct mail, landing pages, paid search, websites, collateral and more, we help them communicate with their customers in ways that keep them engaged and growing their assets.
We’re proud to have been the advertising agency that truly changed the conversation in this country around HIV. We did this by creating the first HIV advertising campaigns that broke away from the usual fear-based approach. Fear creates stigma. And additional stigma is not what HIV positive individuals needed. Stigma also keeps people in the shadows, afraid to get tested because they’re afraid of the results. So we changed the tone. We changed the messages. Go ahead and play, enjoy yourself, enjoy sex. Being HIV positive or negative doesn’t keep you from any of that. Just be sure. Play sure. Stay sure. Always be sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself or protect your partners.
If you’re Condé Nast and you own some of the most powerful brand names in the world—Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair, Bon Appétit, the star-studded list goes on and on—you can’t sit still and let your advertising and subscription base decline. So they’re always challenging us to develop direct response tactics, whether it’s direct mail, digital & social ads, landing pages or email that outperform their controls. But growing that subscriber base is only one part. We’ve also explored ways to help them drive new revenue—whether it’s entering the subscription box market with the Allure Beauty Box, making digital subscriptions totally seamless through Amazon, launching Bon Appétit’s first cookbook or exploring advertising concepts that introduce new ways to monetize their powerful brands. It’s the kind of business transformation challenge we most love.
Introducing a new concept in the world of investing. Now that’s an advertising challenge. When we started, and said, “ETF,” Financial Advisors had no idea what we were talking about. But we took on the challenge. Intriguing Advisors with a brand advertising message for WisdomTree we deemed as a “Shocking new idea in investing: Common Sense”. From that start, almost 10 years ago, we’ve helped WisdomTree grow into a powerhouse in the ETF industry, with over $40 billion in asset under management.
When you hear “it's cancer”, you think speed is of the essence. You’re scared. You’ve got to get this out. A second opinion sounds like a monumental task. Like more delays. So you make decisions that may not be the best in the long run. That’s the challenge we took on for Roswell. How to get folks who’d just heard the worst news ever, to take a step back. To not rush into treatment. Our approach? Transforming the idea of the cumbersome-sounding second opinion, into taking “just one day”. That’s it. Just one day to talk to world-renowned cancer experts at Roswell. Just one day to make sure you’ve explored the absolute latest treatment options. Options other doctors may not even know about. It’s a powerful advertising message that’s stuck in the head of the residents of Buffalo. Even when their rational thinking disappears after hearing those terrifying words, it’s a message that’s there, when they need it.
How many anti-smoking ads have you seen in your life? A million? Us too. Is there another “it’s going to kill you” message smokers haven’t heard? That’s the advertising challenge New York City handed us. A weird thought hit us. People don’t care about dying. Think about it. The perfect excuse to keep smoking is the “something is going to kill me anyway”. Yep, we see it. Why would I worry about cigarettes when in New York City an air conditioner can fall out a window and squash me like a bug (Yep, it happens). So why not enjoy my cigarettes before that AC hits me? If people don’t care about dying, what could we get them to care about? How about pure hell suffering? Suffering so bad you actually wished that AC would fall on your head.
Misery, before you die, is what anti-smoking ads never talk about. So that’s what we did. Just watch and listen. This guy at the kitchen table, that’s going to be your life. That woman having her husband change her diaper. That’s going to be your life. Crapping on yourself? How’s that for motivation to quit? It turns out diapers may have been the missing ingredient in anti-smoking ads all along. The phones at our Quit Line lit up and didn’t stop ringing. More calls than New York City had ever seen. And then Los Angeles ran the ad campaign and same thing. People desperate for help finally reaching out. They despised our campaign, but it did what it needed to do. It got them to take that first step.