Enabling a burgeoning creative agency to compete against large recognized players by fostering a culture focused on client solutions
Marketing and Advertising
Big Monocle is a non-traditional, socially minded creative agency which delivers unique advertising, marketing, and engagement strategies and campaigns to its clients.
Applying Arbinger has enabled us to build a culture that keeps each team member focused on how to help the customer be successful on every level. This unique level of attention to the client’s needs has given us a competitive advantage in a market dominated by big agencies.”
Founder and CEO
Challenge and Solution
Big Monocle is an ecclectic and innovative creative agency located in Redwood City, California. In May of 2012, Amy Stellhorn, then a thirty-two year-old VP of Creative at a large design firm, ventured out on her own to start a new company. The only client of the one-person firm was Intel, and the possibility of growing Big Monocle depended on delivering to the company’s one client in a way that far surpassed anything they were being offered by the big agencies. For this reason, Amy engaged an Arbinger coach.
Intel was happy with Amy’s production and passed her name to Jennifer Larson, at the time an Intel Consumer Integrated Marketing Manager. Jennifer had been tasked with a security education campaign for Intel Security. Intel was being courted for the project by big New York agencies. Based on her colleagues’ recommendations, Jennifer reached out to Big Monocle as well. They chatted a couple of times by phone. Jennifer found Amy to be ultra creative. Although none of the ideas Amy suggested were doable, Jennifer encouraged her to keep thinking. They agreed to meet at an Intel coffee shop. By this time, Amy was in full-on creative mode. She was both putting together a presentation of her prior work and story-boarding some different ideas for the Intel Security project.
She was in the middle of busily preparing her presentation when her Arbinger coach invited her to stop making slides. “Rather than work to impress Jennifer with all you have done,” he said, “what if you just became really interested in what she’s trying to get done—get interested in her audience and what they are trying to get done? Don’t try to impress her—that’s just about you. Try to help her.” Amy met Jennifer at the coffee shop with neither slides nor presentation. She threw herself into understanding Jennifer’s needs, and then Intel’s objectives for the campaign. And then she gently helped Jennifer to begin considering the interests and needs of their audience.
They had no solid plan by the end of that meeting, but because of Amy’s approach Big Monocle had a contract. She had engaged Jennifer in an approach that was completely unique in all of Jennifer’s years working with creative agencies. As Amy and Jennifer started to work together, there were many times that the outward mindset helped guide them. “What can we really do to help people be safer online?” they asked. “What kind of experience can we give them that will be valuable to them?” These kinds of outwardly-focused questions lead to far more rich and resonant answers than those in typical marketing briefs. (There is a good chance that you actually participated in the initial campaign that Amy and Jennifer devised.) Among other things, they launched a test-your-password-strength campaign, where people were able to get immediate feedback about the strength of their passwords, along with suggestions for how to improve them. It was simple, super helpful, and therefore brilliant. Amy quickly hired a team, gauging each new hire by their ability to work with an outward focus.
The team put together a campaign that set new benchmarks within Intel. Users tested 1,000,000 passwords on Intel.com, sent 13,000 tweets, and took 32,000 pledges to change their passwords. On this aspect of the project, Intel spent just $150,000. For that investment, they received 58,000,000 impressions. That’s a cost per impression of $.002. Normally companies will invest fifty cents to a dollar per impression. Amy and Jennifer pulled this off for a per-impression cost of just two tenths of a cent. This little campaign was such a success that it quickly caught the attention of the Intel C-suite. The campaign won accolades and was even picked up by national shows like The Today Show. Jennifer received company-wide recognition when she was given an award that normally goes to whole teams. The award recognized that this work represented a new paradigm for how to market at Intel.