Damnit, it’s working for agency, Odysseus Arms.
O-Arms was the agency creating the buzz around Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out story. “We’ve told some big stories, but this one feels historic. Improving a conversation that fueled shame, lived on the cover of tabloid magazines and made a lot of people contemplate the worst—that’s why we’re doing all this. We’re lucky to be a part of it. Go, Caitlyn.”
The San Francisco agency has just won another big piece of business. Foster Farms is to poultry in the US as Ingham is in Australia. Odysseus has won its Corn Dogs brand.
It also won Gold in AdAge’s 2014 Small Agency Awards. Both are due to what the agency calls its consumer listening technique. That technique has been dramatically increasing advertising effectiveness for Odysseus clients like E. & J. Gallo’s Carlo Rossi, Capital One, YouTube and NBC/Universal.
Consumer listening sounds awfully like qualitative research. And yes, that’s where the process begins. “We spliced creative with qual and invented a new kind of research.”
Agency partner, Franklin Tipton, noted, “We’re getting really personal with our research—drilling down to find out what consumers in our target market really care about.”
Co-founder, Libby Brockhoff, left the other agency she co-founded, Mother London, to launch Odysseus Arms in 2011. She has been refining the agency’s hands-on consumer listening technique ever since.
This is how it works. The agency builds ‘tribes’ of two dozen or more consumers in the target market and then spends more than 100 real time hours with them. This means that Odysseus Arms is able to vet their likes, dislikes and responses to shape message strategy and creative.
According to Brockoff, the intensely personal research approach allows advertisers to reach their target with “a much greater level of certainty”.
“This steers away from current agency trends, where they base their insights on customers from a cursory look at big data—our entire agency is spending time with the people we are targeting. Unlike the typical agency environment—where research is a dirty word—empathy is our unfair ‘super hero’ advantage.”
So what does advertising that’s formed around what consumers like and want look like. Remarkably “creative”, which may not be what you expected.
Odysseus Arms’ recent work includes a project for Amnesty International that was named Buzzfeed’s No. 2 Most Effective ad campaign and helped influence the White House – and subsequently encouraged the U.N. to pass a global Arms Trade Treaty on April 3, 2013.
“Just before world leaders convened at the United Nations to debate the first international Arms Trade Treaty, Amnesty International reached out to O-Arms. They asked us to generate an integrated global campaign designed to raise immediate awareness, educate people on the issue and secure a million petition signatures to present to the U.N. To fire everyone up, we based our effort on one ridiculous fact: bananas have strict trade regulations yet light artillery and other serious weapons do not.
“Our goal was to inspire young activists and encourage President Obama to vote yes on a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in the UN. The campaign centered on the discovery that bananas face stricter global trade regulations than AK-47s do. And it worked. The petition garnered over 1 million signatures, enough to influence President Obama to vote yes, and on April 3, 2013, the ATT was signed by the UN.”
O-Arms’ integrated campaign for YouTube – YouTube’s first paid ad campaign – used the huge fan numbers of YouTube’s self-made stars – Bethany Mota, Michelle Phan and Rosanna Pansino – to create curiosity that would convert to YouTube views. This campaign was also an “ad” in itself for creative collaboration – O-Arms joined Google and NY agency, Co:Collective, in a group of collaborator companies including Caviar, Rock Paper Scissors, Beacon Street, Trollback, and Pacific Digital Image on the campaign. The team produced an campaign that spanned broadcast, digital and OOH as well as a massive presence in search, display and video ads across Google’s ad network.