Top 10 best Advertisements from Small Agencies
- 9 Aug 2023
- 9 mins read
- Posted in
- DojaCode by Mojo Supermarket
- The e.l.f. X Chipotle range by Movers+Shakers
- Stanley Sightings by Hanson Dodge
- We Get All Of It by Quality Meats
- Make It Better by Lerma/
- Doubt. Create. Repeat. by Preacher
- Dream House by Highdive
- Sandwich Loves Slack by Sandwich
- John Malkovich by Alto
- Really Good Eggs by Mythology
- Small agencies for the win!
We’ll admit it. Here at TalentDesk, we’re complete advert geeks. We love the commercials during the Super Bowl. We sing along to the jingles on our car radio. And sometimes, when the ‘Skip ad’ button pops up on YouTube, we…don’t.
While we love the occasional big budget ads, our favorite ones are the kind produced by young creative teams at small agencies. There’s something so thrilling about seeing these small teams punching above their weight and giving huge global competitors a run for their money.
It just goes to show that today, swanky international offices and a team size of a hundred-plus creatives are no longer the only indicators of a company’s success. In fact, in advertising and production, the opposite often works to a young company’s favor. Hybrid teams and remote setups help keep overheads low, so they can focus purely on creativity and impact. And thanks to the internet, it’s easier to go global overnight when one has great content.
1. DojaCode by Mojo Supermarket
How do you get your audience excited about a topic that many of them don’t really care for? You reel them in with something they do love. That was the strategy behind Mojo Supermarket’s DojaCode campaign, created for Girls Who Code.
Founded in 2018, Mojo Supermarket is an ad services agency based in New York, known for producing clutter-breaking work in an age of fleeting trends. With a team of under 50 people, they are a prime example of how small teams with big ideas can win out.
While coding does not feature on the top of girls’ list of interests, Doja Cat does. So when Doja Cat released her new song, Mojo Supermarket partnered with her to create the first ever codable music video. Here, viewers can use snippets of code to direct and change various elements of the video – be it Doja Cat’s nail color, the background or even the broader storyline.
Viewers loved this interactive experience, and Girls Who Code recorded 3 million coding experiences on the video. The campaign grabbed $10 million in earned media. Mojo Supermarket won Ad Age’s Small Agency of the Year - Gold title, as well as ‘Brand Entertainment Grand Prix’ and the ‘Interactive & Mobile Craft Grand Prix’ at the One Show 2022. At D&AD 2022, they took home Silvers in ‘Direct’, ‘Experiential’ and ‘Digital’ categories and two Silvers each in ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Media’.
2. The e.l.f. X Chipotle range by Movers+Shakers
No one does internet culture better than Movers+Shakers – a creative agency that was started in 2016 by a Broadway performer and a marketer. They are a remote-first agency, with no physical offices, and they have a team of under 200.
A collaboration between e.l.f. Cosmetics and Chipotle is one that nobody saw coming – but the team at Movers+Shakers identified the potential for it right away. Both brands are highly popular on TikTok, and Chipotle’s line of serving trays has been likened to a make-up palette by more than one Gen Z consumer.
Movers+Shakers brought the brands together to introduce an e.l.f. make-up range, complete with an avocado makeup sponge, a salsa-inspired lip gloss and an eyeshadow palette that’s a reimagined take on Chipotle’s iconic serving trays.
The online collection sold out in 44 minutes flat, and it took just 3 days for the whole collection to be sold out. The campaign got 4 billion press impressions, and 200 million impressions on social media. Celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Stephen Colbert participated in unpaid promotions – simply as eager fans. Movers+Shakers took home the Silver as Ad Agency’s Small Agency of the Year, that year.
3. Stanley Sightings by Hanson Dodge
Why would a 100+ year-old drinkware brand have their own IMDB watchlist? It’s all a part of Hanson Dodge’s campaign for Stanley PMI.
While Stanley PMI already had an established market presence, they missed a strong connection with one segment of the audience – millennials. They turned to their digital advertising agency Hanson Dodge to change that. The agency met the challenge by connecting the brand to pop culture.
They launched a campaign called Stanley Sightings, which invited audiences to spot Stanley products in over 40 movies and shows popular among millennials. From Stranger Things to Seinfield, it showed how Stanley has been a part of great stories since 1913.
The campaign exceeded their video view goals by 124%. It led to 7.5 million PR impressions, 179 million impressions in the media, and it sparked off even more product placement opportunities for Stanley PMI. With a team size of under 200, the Wisconsin-based agency Hanson Dodge went on to win a Silver as Ad Age’s Midwest Small Agency of the Year.
4. We Get All Of It by Quality Meats
The Major Leagues are not just sports – they’re an emotion. And no one knows this better than Cubs fans. So when Marquee Sports Network was introduced as the new Chicago Cubs network (after 71 years of WGN being the official channel), fans did not take to the change. It was up to Marquee Sports Network’s creative and production agency, Quality Meats, to step in and make a difference.
Founded in 2020 and with a team size of under 10 employees, Quality Meats rewrote the story, and how! They introduced ‘We Get All Of It’ – a campaign that depicted Marquee Sports Network as long-time Cubs fans, much before they became the station airing Cubs matches. The advert brings out just what it means to be a Cubs supporter – the involvement and the emotions involved as they navigate the wins, losses and everything in between. The campaign demonstrated that Marquee Sports Network truly does get it.
Following the campaign launch, Quality Meats won the Ad Agency Small Agency of the Year - Silver award. Marquee Sports Network went on to be nominated for the Chicago/Midwest Regional Emmy Awards in the ‘Outstanding Achievement for Sports Promotion’ category. But most importantly, they won the hearts of Cubs supporters everywhere, which is no mean feat!
5. Make It Better by Lerma/
When it comes to going bold, Lerma/ leads the pack. By their own proclamation, they ‘Go Where Others Won’t’. They are a full-service agency run by a multicultural team of under 150 employees. Their daring work and humorous execution set them apart, every time.
One great example of their work is the ‘Make It Better’ ad, created for Avocados From Mexico, and launched just in time for Super Bowl 2023. The ad gives a fun twist to the Biblical idea of the forbidden fruit. Whereas the apple is symbolic of mayhem and downfall, ‘Avocados From Mexico Make Everything Better’. The ad is infused with the trademark Anna Farris charm as she takes us to the Big Avocado (an antithesis of the Big Apple), where life is always idyllic and joy abounds.
Lerma/ has been representing Avocados From Mexico since 2015, and in that time, the brand has noted a 40% increase in customer preference, a 23% increase in brand consideration, and a 3x increase in brand awareness. As an agency, Lerma/ has had a highly rewarding growth journey. They’ve won the Ad Age Small Agency of the Year - Gold award for two consecutive years – in the ‘11-75 Employees’ category in 2022 and now, in the ‘76-150 Employees’ category.
6. Doubt. Create. Repeat. by Preacher
Self-doubt gets an image upgrade in Preacher’s ad for WeTransfer. When you think of an ad for a software tool, you’d probably think of a product video. But Preacher adds a new twist by bringing in the emotions of the product’s users.
As creators everywhere would know, doubt haunts every creative decision they make. But as Preacher points out, it can also be the hidden human power that pushes them to challenge the status quo and go beyond limits. It is the secret sauce behind the most innovative creations. But it is the ingredient the world doesn’t get to see because of refined tools like WeTransfer, which enables creative professionals to present their ideas flawlessly.
This capability to add heart and soul to adverts is something that Preacher is known for. This Texas-based creative agency was founded in 2014, and has a team of under 50. But they work with a larger hybrid team to create unique campaigns like this. And this strategy works for them. Preacher has several Ad Age titles to their credit – they won the Small Agency of the Year in 2022, 2020 & 2019, the Agency Standout in 2021 and 2018, and Agency Innovators in 2017.
7. Dream House by Highdive
Humor and celebrity endorsements – the Chicago-based creative agency Highdive uses these two elements to drive the most memorable and daring ads. Living up to their name, they want their work to remind people of that feeling of diving from the highest board at the pool for the first time. Their Super Bowl productions have come to be highly anticipated over the years, with celebrities like Paul Rudd, Bill Murray and Danny DeVito starring in them.
The Dream House ad, created for Rocket Homes and Rocket Mortgage, is a prime example of their work. It features Anna Kendric, and it gives the challenges of buying a home a charming twist with Barbie. The ad shows how Barbie manages to buy her Dream House with relevant alerts from Rocket Homes. But she comes face-to-face with other bidders – Better Offer Betty, Cash Offer Carl and House Flipper Skipper! That’s when timely financing options from Rocket Mortgage help her win out.
Careful growth is Highdive’s motto. They were founded in 2016 and currently have a team of under 200. Rather than growing their headcount, their prime focus is to build client relationships and make award-winning work. Highdive has won Ad Age’s A-List Standout Award 2023 and Small Agency of the Year 2022. Adweek named them Breakthrough Agency of the Year in 2020, and they featured on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list in 2021.
8. Sandwich Loves Slack by Sandwich
Sandwich is a video production house that was founded quite by accident! They started out by making an app in 2009. The video they made to promote it became more popular than the app itself. That’s when they decided to lean into their production capabilities. Today, with under 50 employees, they are known for their high-quality videos, often shot remotely.
The ‘Sandwich Loves Slack’ video is an old ad – created in 2014 when Slack wasn’t as popular as it is today. It goes to show that B2B ads don’t necessarily need to be “dull” product videos. With its mockumentary-style format, this ad is almost like watching an episode of The Office. And it is just as entertaining too.
The ad shows Sandwich’s own team trying out and reviewing the Slack platform, with humorous results. The video begins with the initial reluctance that all teams exhibit when asked to shift to a new platform. But as they outline their pain points and try out Slack’s features, they realize its advantages. Despite themselves, they fall in love with the app, eventually giving it the ultimate stamp of approval – using it to send funny pictures.
The ad garnered almost 3 million views on YouTube and won the 2015 Shorty Award in the ‘Best in B2B’ category. As a bonus, we also see a follow-up ad, shot remotely by the team during the early days of the pandemic. This time, we see the Sandwich team using Slack to work from home.
9. John Malkovich by Alto
Alto proves that you don’t need a big team to make a big impact. They are a lean company of under 50 – but their roster of clients includes names like Google, Apple and Nike. They have worked in collaboration with Grammy, Emmy and Oscar winning artists, and with celebrities like Serena Williams, Lil Wayne and Ana de Armas.
This is no fluke. It is all a part of the carefully strategized approach Alto follows – that of taking on selective projects, and then pulling out all stops with creativity and execution. They operate with a scalable workforce model, with teams scaled to cater to client needs.
Their hilarious ‘John Malkovich’ Super Bowl ad for Squarespace remains memorable, several years after its release. It was launched when John Malkovich introduced his new fashion line. It showed the veteran actor getting increasingly frustrated when he realizes the domain name johnmalkovich.com has already been bought out by someone else. We go on to see him trying various tactics to get it back – from threats to requests and everything in between.
The ad was a runaway hit, with 130 million viewers and 3.15 billion media impressions. The results were tangible too – Squarespace noted the highest traffic on their website in 12 years, and recorded the highest revenue of all times. John Malkovich’s fashion line promptly sold out too. And as for Alto, the ad brought them an Emmy for Outstanding Commercial, as well as several Webbys.
10. Really Good Eggs by Mythology
This one’s by the New York-based agency, Mythology. Established in 2019, this is another small team of under 50, which includes an interdisciplinary team of creative professionals – writers, designers, strategists and directors.
This ad was made for the plant-based protein brand, JUST Egg. It features Jake Gyllenhaal nonchalantly tucking into a plate of JUST Egg scrambled eggs, while gearing up for trendy workouts that ‘only famous people know about’ – like underwater Jujitsu and galactic robo-knight training. The voiceover pointedly reminds us how, when it comes to all things health and fitness, the actor has always been ahead of the rest of the world.
This was a 360-degree campaign that also included outdoor ads featuring a similar, snarky brand of humor. The billboards all flaunted funny messages talking about how JUST Egg helps save the planet – but even those who don't care about sustainability can enjoy them because they’re just that good. Following their latest work, Mythology took home the Ad Age Small Agency Award in 2022.
Small agencies for the win!
Diverse ads, various industries, multiple media – but there is a common thread tying all the work featured here. They all demonstrate how small creative and production teams can do impactful work when they stay lean and scale smart.
We see agencies like Highdive and Alto doing this efficiently, by keeping their small in-house teams focussed on what’s important – creative strategy thinking and client relationships. But that’s not to say they are sacrificing on execution. Working with scalable teams allows them to pivot as per project requirements. This model also keeps overheads low, thus enabling them to dedicate their budgets on bringing the best creative talent on board – including A-list celebrities.
Here at TalentDesk, we love this new-age way of working, and our platform is geared to support and facilitate this. Our freelancer management, project management and payment features make it incredibly easy to work with scalable, hybrid teams around the world. And as for creative talent, our database gives you access to the top global professionals – whether you’re looking for writers, directors, videographers, marketing strategists or anyone else. After all, we truly believe this hybrid, agile, and relevant work model is the way of the future – and we are excited to help more young agencies get where they need to be.
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