Backed by former CP&B honcho Alex Bogusky, Chief Creative Director David Littlejohn and Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Clark opened Humanaut in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 2013 as a "brand invention agency," with the goal to create its own products from scratch and help build brands it believed in. Even if that meant having to preserve a species that's likely in no fear of dying out anytime soon: bros.
To promote Organic Valley's new product Organic Fuel, billed as the world's first organic milk protein recovery shake, Humanaut embarked on a rescue mission to ensure that those shirtless, faux-tanned muscle sculptures grunting in front of gym mirrors countrywide were putting good stuff into their bodies.
"Save the Bros" launched in 2015 with a hilarious film illustrating the plight of millions of bros. A straight-faced announcer informed us that every day, these important life-forms, who consume "two-thirds of our nation's light beer and 100% of our Axe body spray," are trying to "get swole" by fueling their workouts with artificial ingredients and chemicals.
The video was featured on YouTube and social media, directing viewers to savethebros.com, where they could get a "Buy One Bro One" voucher to try Organic Fuel and share one "with a Bro you know." The campaign continued with the Brononymous Hotline, a Twitter-enabled app for people to anonymously send an Organic Fuel coupon to a bro in need.
"We had the challenge of introducing a new product, educating people about the weird ingredients in most protein shakes and making something highly sharable for the web," said Mr. Littlejohn. To put it in bro-speak: "We knew we needed to go big or go home."
The idea came about during a brainstorm. "Someone asked, 'Are we trying to save bros?' We instantly knew that was the idea," he recalled. "We quickly cut a rough video using stock of sad music with pictures of bros and it was hilarious. We showed that to the client and they approved it."
Turns out, the client helped lead the idea to its final, funny form. "The first edit we showed the client, their feedback was actually that it was too sad," Mr. Littlejohn said. "You actually felt sorry for bros and it was kind of a downer. So we really bumped up the energy and funny with the music and started the video off with a celebration of bros."
The bros themselves, cast locally and in Atlanta, helped to ensure the authenticity of the films. "We were a little worried that these guys might feel like we were making fun of them and it could get awkward," Mr. Littlejohn said. "But we realized bros are totally awesome and you can't make fun of a bro; it's just not possible. They had a blast, and helped us come up with even more ideas on how to accurately portray a real bro. They were pretty much in character the whole shoot and took a bunch of selfies on set."
During the first four weeks of the campaign, sales of Organic Fuel jumped 114% compared with the previous month. The campaign has seen over 200 million impressions across social, digital and PR, and the Brononymous Hotline has delivered 15,000 tweets. The agency has since added another funny campaign to the Organic Fuel oeuvre -- this time, centered on the weird things people do to work out.