Ad Agency Videos: A Series

Ad Agency Videos: Humor Sells

download video powerVideos are everywhere. The increasing use of videos for marketing is well known. The power of videos to tell stories is well known. Agencies discuss the power of video everyday.

However, few agencies actually use video power in their own business development marketing.

In an effort to stimulate the use of videos as a business development tool, I offer this ongoing series on which agencies are doing it right and, occasionally, doing it all wrong.

Oh, Canada – Or, What’s Up In Toronto?

Two Tronto agencies have delivered some of the best, very off-the-wall , videos designed to sell the agency and how it works and thinks. If I were a client looking for an ad agency that could deliver a big strategic idea in a way that would get my brand attention, these shops would be on my short list.

Union Agency

In 2014, Toronto’s Union, delivered a video on Vimeo and their website that was so cool and funny that it has been viewed 604,000 times, has 964 likes and 24 comments. These guys sound like they understand what clients are looking for from an agency. From their website comes this simple but compelling message.



Hey, I get the agency’s perspective right away. They meet my 8 second rule. Their website gets right to the point. And, since they understand the power of video, they put this puppy right upfront on their website.


This entertaining 2:30 second video delivers a few key messages: Union has a sense of humor, they are ‘creative’, they know how to produce a simple, yet powerful video and they, tongue-in-cheek, tell prospective clients that they work their ass off — in a very sweet way. From an Entrepreneur article…

Union’s people didn’t pull off a big-time industry nod like that screwing off, er, making silly videos for the hell of it. Why they earned it with good, old overtime and “blood, sweat and tears,” darnit. And, yadda, yadda, “put in countless hours and worked around the clock” to make it happen. At least that’s what their bearded boss-man Subtej Nijjar says in the clip.

Importantly, the agency is building that all important ‘chemistry’ moment with prospective clients. This is a critical benefit as clients have told us that interpersonal chemistry between an agency team and them is a key component of their decision-making. Union delivers a compelling connection right on its front page. Why wouldn’t a client that is looking for a smart, creative, funny, hard working agency gieve them a call?

john st.

Across town, john st. has been using wacky agency produced videos since 2010 to ‘sell’ the agency and its attitude.

Pink Ponies.

The first, hard to ignore – as in cute, video they point to on the agency YouTube site is their own tongue-in-cheek fake agency case history about marketing 8-year-old Chelsea Bedano’s birthday party. A party that had to break through the ever expanding clutter of kid’s birthday parties.


Next up was “Unignorable.” This 2 minute video delivered the client bait that John St. can make advertising messages… unignorable. And, what client wouldn’t want THAT? From john st.’s Youtube…

In a commoditized world, unignorable brands win. They act differently. They don’t do what the category does. They embrace social media and design and technology. And they understand that when the consumer is in control, brands must be interesting to be heard. We are very lucky to work with clients who feel the same way.

This video now has over 30,000 views which is phenomenal for an agency ‘pitch video.’


Moving on, john st. shifted its direction to extolling the power of cats. Their “Catvertising” video, which sells in the idea that the world’s love of cat videos is where advertising should be going, has 2 million plus views. You know this because chances are very good that you account for more than one view of this one. As the agency says, “To stay on top of the ever-changing advertising landscape, john st. has opened the world’s first cat video division. With production, filming and seeding all in-house. Ask yourself, what can cat videos do for your business?”

The agency took Catvertising a giant step forward when they applied the power of cats to producing Catvertising ads for agency clients WFF, Tetley and Mitsubishi.


Not resting, John. St. delivered another timely message in their Reactvertising series. The series pokes serious fun at the ad world’s need-for-speed and rush to the idea of real-time in-the-moment advertising. Oreo’s, the Super Bowl and Twitter anyone? Here’s my favorite, “Reactvertising In Mobile”.

What’s Goin On Here?

Clearly Canadians are having more fun than south of the border agencies. More importantly, Union and john st. understand — and use — the emotional and intellectual power of videos to deliver their agency’s core sales messages. Messages that are delivered in impossible to ignore videos.

One Comment

  1. Imitation is the purest form of flattery– or a surefire route to the business end of a lawsuit. Well, let the Canucks come after me. As I reconstructed my agency, I made the decision to use video. Although we had not come up with the “big idea” Union Advertising nailed it. I’m going to flatter them by tailoring our video on theirs. Actually, I will not copy them, but use similar succinct humor to bring home our message. Well done.

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