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Small Agency of the Year, Southeast, Gold: Humanaut

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When Organic Valley tasked Humanaut with hawking its organic half-and-half, the agency, tongue firmly in cheek, opened a brick-and-mortar Organic Valley Coffee Shop in Manhattan's hipster Nolita neighborhood and added a twist: Buy the half-and-half and get the java, lined up on a side counter, for free.

Whether it's the less sexy component of your favorite morning beverage or a self-cleaning cat litter box, Humanaut likes to work with brands that want consumers to rethink their products. For fledgling startups that may not have the money to tell their stories, Humanaut sometimes works for a mix of cash, equity and revenue sharing.

"We're trying to partner with brands that [want] to do something that's going to become a part of culture or be part of the larger conversation," said co-founder and Chief Creative Director David Littlejohn.

"I think, by being in Chattanooga, we're just closer to the pulse of 'real' people," he said. "You're a little bit removed from ... a lot of the assumptions of what people are like. And I think getting things to be a little simpler and slower lets you open your mind to other ideas and other ways of talking to people."

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