If you love Sabra ads featuring Jeffrey Tambor, Jim Beam's ads with Willem Dafoe or Mila Kunis, the Heineken James Bond ad, the Baby Yoga branded content for Barilla WASA, or Pamper's pregnancy apps, chances are you know the agency behind all this: StrawberryFrog.
But what you might not know is the agency is rebooting itself to enable ambitious brands to do a lot more with less. After a year of talking to CMOs and then tinkering with itself, StrawberryFrog is ready to start a Cultural Revolution under new Managing Director Chris Perkins.
"To be blunt, clients want results now more than ever, and they want an agency partner who can grow business with brilliant work. But for most [agencies] marketing communication has become the art and science of confusing the obvious," says Perkins. "They see what works from the past and then they just continue it. You develop the creative brief, work against it for six months, and doing round after round of work. At StrawberryFrog we have a better way to do it, a new way of looking at it."
Before joining StrawberryFrog, Perkins was on the client side as CMO of Brand USA under the Obama Administration. Prior to that his advertising career included overseeing brands like Jack Daniels and Jeep.
Now, he and the StrawberryFrog management team are starting what they like to think of as a “revolution” by returning the industry back to a time when disruptive strategy and creative took center stage, but with a smarter focus.
"For clients who want to tie it all together, there is a better, more innovative approach. We want to elevate work beyond the TV spot, digital or social campaign. When we create brand movements for clients," says Perkins, "we position them in a cultural context, helping them accelerate beyond the ineffective approach of outspending everyone." In other words, with the right guidance, clients can execute campaigns smarter and cheaper.
"The first step is to walk clients through the movement approach, as it's very different than classic positioning approaches. We start by digging into the brand culture and then looking at cultural trends that align." While most clients focus on specific attributes and points of difference, StrawberryFrog wants to drive share by focusing clients on larger matters, both internally and externally "We look in society, into insights that strike a nerve, that are highly relevant, that are passions," says Perkins. "Then we connect these powerful forces to the brand benefit, purpose, and value set -- and BANG," says Perkins.
And in addition to driving market share for brands, Perkins is thinking bigger -- he believes corporations should think of cultural movements as a means to revitalize huge organizations internally, inspiring innovation and new ways of doing things. This in turn will enable clients to see campaigns as just one part of a larger mission that rethinks their business strategy and mission.
Perkin's vision is to see StrawberryFrog redefine the actual campaign process by looking at the brand holistically rather than pitch individual campaign concepts. "What point or perspective do they have that elevates them beyond a cool ad?" asks Perkins. This process will shift the agency from developing initiatives based on channels, such as digital or social media, to multichannel movements, going beyond the typical approach of hitting the same old checklist of channels from past campaigns.
"It's not about simply creating huge awareness or brand understanding, it's about generating truly active engagement, not passive like often is the case," says Perkins. "We want to turn those big cultural movement ideas into sustainable activation that drives sales and reduces and maximizes the investment clients make."
But for some clients, Perkins says it can also be just a matter of reframing the tried-and-true. For instance, the agency is working with a rising pharmaceutical company creating uplift for a new drug. "How can you be culturally relevant and still provide all of the legal disclosure information? Right now, Pharma ads are so awful. And they really don't need to be." Instead, the agency is developing an “effective movement” approach that will avoid cliches while educating consumers about the medicine's benefits. It won't feature animated gremlins or walks on the beach.
Perkins believes some industry truisms to be important. Awards matter. StrawberryFrog continues to embrace these industry ego talismans, with the understanding that they help to land new business and serve as an important symbol. "I know people say awards don't matter, but they do. There is research that shows highly awarded brands are the ones that also have the highest performing stocks," says Perkins. "Plus they get your name out there." StrawberryFrog has won its fair share of awards, including the global effectiveness Effie for its Jim Beam work.
Next month, StrawberryFrog will debut a new website that will serve as a reintroduction to the industry. "We are using our brand to tell the message," says Perkins. "We are going to put our brand out there more effectively than in the past that represents everything we are trying to sell."
Founded in 1999, StrawberryFrog started as a nimble little agency competing against bigger more bureaucratic shops for major accounts. At the start, founder, Scott Goodson, introduced the term "Movement Marketing" to the world and since then, the agency has worked with brands who wanted to do things differently to achieve results. For example the agency's launch client was a strange looking two-seater auto called the "smart car" that didn't market itself as a regular b-segment vehicle but rather a movement to reinvent the urban environment.
StrawberryFrog went on to grow, build, and revitalize marquee brands like Heineken and Emirates Airlines, Stacy's Pita Chips and Sabra. It devised cultural movement strategies for Google, Pampers, Microsoft and Morgan Stanley.
While the marketing landscape has experienced rapid change in recent years, the agency has continued to evolve. And over the last year, the agency landed major assignments for Nature's Variety and the Albania tourism account. It also helped rebuild the Jim Beam and LG Electronics brands globally.
This month it is launching a multi-million dollar campaign for European Wax Center built around “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the Oscars.