When Callen Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer Craig Allen founded his Austin, Texas, agency nearly five years ago, he brought with him the legacy of the groundbreaking campaigns he had conceived at his former shops—ads such as Skittles “Touch” from his tenure at TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, which helped rewrite the playbook on candy marketing—and Old Spice’s “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” while at Wieden+Kennedy, which made deodorant ads a thing to get jealous about.
Callen is a creative lab that concocts ideas like no other
Now, Allen's name is on the shingle of a “part production studio, part strategic brand shepherd, part entrepreneurial incubator.” Alongside Callen Head of Strategy Julianna Simon and Managing Director David Hughes, Allen is carving out a new story, aspiring for greatness with more head-turning ideas that seem conceived in a different universe.
Take, for example, Callen’s campaign for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer that created a whole new form of “media buy.” The “In-Home Advertising” campaign exploited every nook and cranny of everyday consumers’ homes, paying them to put Pabst ads on their toilet seats, in their fish tanks, toothbrushes, bananas and elsewhere.
Callen also created a surreal campaign for Ranch Rider, directed by Allen himself, and continued to deliver out-there ideas for Liquid Death, including one that aimed to keep unrecyclable plastic bottles out of oceans and landfills by sending them to “loving” homes that would appreciate them—the headquarters of the big soda companies that created them.
The brow-raising work has been good for business. Callen saw $4.3 million in revenue last year, a 56% jump from $2.76 million in 2020, and the agency predicts revenue will hit $5.5 million in 2022.