Here's a novel notion: An ad agency that promotes itself
One longstanding irony of the ad agency business is that while shops are all over promoting their clients, they fail to advertise themselves. But a small New York-based independent agency is flouting that convention with an ad campaign touting itself and the benefits of working with a shop of its size rather than huge holding company-owned rivals.
The campaign, from Human Intelligence, includes various short videos featuring sharks, lions, babies and butterflies, signifying what the shop considers its strong attributes. In its anthem spot, "Brain," Human Intelligence boasts of being "not just a smaller agency" but "a smarter agency" that leans on real human insights, hence the name of the shop.
The shop is relatively new, founded last year by Abby Hirschhorn, head of strategy, and her fellow co-founders, Tod Seisser and Steve Landsberg, who lead creative. Among its clients are Culturelle, CallidusCloud, Cision, Zicam and Cuties Babycare.
The trio have all previously spent time at various of the holding company-owned agencies including McCann, DDB, Ogilvy and Saatchi & Saatchi, so Hirschhorn says they know firsthand the disadvantages of working with such shops—such as the "aligning of 17 calendars to get something approved; the politics," she says.
But Hirschhorn says the campaign is also meant to separate Human Intelligence "from the pack" of smaller independent agencies. "Being small, you want to separate yourself from stereotypes like they’re not strategic enough or don't have the the diversity of experience, diversity of talent," Hirschhorn says. "As a small agency, you get lumped into that pack. We wanted to differentiate ourselves."
The above spots "Lion" and "Turtle" argue that brands are not at an advantage working with large agencies. "Turtle," for example, seems to suggest that holding company-owned agencies are not "up to speed."
"Lion" questions how many senior executives at larger agencies are really working directly on client accounts. Hirschhorn notes that she and her two co-founders work hands-on on every account—though that is not uncommon at small shops. (Human Intelligence houses a handful of other full-time employees, but then typically staffs up on individual projects with part-time workers and freelancers.)
"Money" highlights Human Intelligence's ability to create ads that lead to real value ("sales"), knocking other, less important metrics that agencies typically promote ("likes, clicks shares").
"Baby" argues that brands shouldn't settle for a small agency lacking "world-class talent and experience ... HI is small but its execs are seasoned veterans with solid records of success," the agency boasts.
The ads are being run on paid social media on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram and will also be sent directly to the agency database via email.