The pandemic has been a disaster for many businesses, for Chemistry it’s been a triumph of creative inspiration and business model reinvention.
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The Atlanta full-service agency faced a $7 million, 13% billings hit early in the pandemic. By year-end, revenue had increased 13% to $18.2 million with 10% profit growth to $1.2 million.
Credit a philosophy that sees everything as an experiment, risks as the less risky option and failure as unavoidable. With 70% of its agency-of-record clients freezing spending and a 40% decrease in paid media, Chemistry shifted to its Test Tube Productions arm, increasing business there almost fourfold. Test Tube expects to produce more than 1.2 million pieces of video content this year.
“It just allowed us to be what our clients needed last year,” says Chief Creative Officer Chris Breen. “They lost their budgets, but they still needed the messages and the momentum.”
The agency also eliminated most margin from its demand-side platform, plowing savings into client campaigns to deliver big increases in working media, sales and return on investment despite flat budgets.
One of Chemistry’s most important creative accomplishments increased mask-wearing and social distancing in minority communities with measurable impact. It started with a $600 stimulus check donated by an agency acquaintance, used to help launch a #BigFactsSmallActs campaign encompassing everything from TV to video to having street artists paint masks over their art. National media coverage earned 118 million impressions. And ZIP codes where murals got “masked over” saw 16% fewer COVID-19 cases reported last July and August than comparable neighborhoods nearby.