This summer Division of Labor is celebrating its 10th anniversary as an independent ad agency. It’s been a long run from our humble beginnings in a backyard shed to a storefront in Sausalito and now a slightly more grown-up office space up the road. Through the years, we’ve worked with lots of great clients, churned out lots of great ad campaigns, and managed to earn a decent living doing it.
To mark the occasion, we’ll be gathering this Friday in our conference room to enjoy a slice of sickly sweet sheet cake and sip champagne from disposable plastic cups. And while we wish all of you could join us, we simply don’t have space to invite the internet. Instead we thought we’d regale you with tales of what we will likely reminisce about in between sporkfuls of artificially colored frosting.
Like remember when McCann SF was collapsing and Microsoft gave Josh and Paul a huge project to shoot a bunch of videos for Office and they scrambled to start an agency, without a business plan, financial backing, or even office space?
Or remember when after renting a storefront in Sausalito we hung hand-painted grocery store signs hawking “mercury tainted salmon steaks” and “genetically engineered corn” in the agency’s window. And, then some anonymous tipster (read: Josh’s wife) sent photos of the poster to the Marin Independent Journal and a reporter wrote that article about us?
Or remember when Division of Labor was asked to create an ad campaign for a TBS sitcom? Josh then convinced his wife to be a bad haircut model, which entailed styling her hair and makeup to resemble that of a bad eighties Texas housewife. Putting a black “fashion don’t” box across each of the model’s eyes may just have saved his marriage because her image ended up on billboards all over New York. Thankfully not in San Francisco where she might see it.
Or remember when Chronicle Books published our book Stop Tweeting Boring Sh*t after a poster series we made to hang in our storefront windows went viral? Besides clarifying etiquette for modern office workers, we studied the behavior of 750 actual office workers around the country and gathered statistics on a variety of topics including, "The most vile office smells and "The percentage of people who steal office supplies." Thanks Paragraph Project.
Or remember when we were shooting that Bart commercial at the Powell Street station and the sun was spilling perfectly onto the stairwell when we yelled “Rolling.” And the footage turned out epic, but for the fact that nobody noticed the junkie shooting up heroin in the background?
Or remember when you shot that commercial for Groupon about an unemployed inflatable Gorilla? It was a brilliant commercial that won at the ADCC Awards so it’s in the archives at MOMA. But remember how all the gorillas we ordered from China turned out to be the wrong sizes. So we had to order four new ones and have them express shipped from China. And remember how that cost us about 30% of a miniscule budget? But hey, it’s about the memories not the money, right?
Or remember when Burt Reynolds wanted $10,000 to use his name in a Roku ad? And our client wasn’t sure it was worth the investment. So we pointed out that if he signed the contract they’d get a celebrity autograph to boot.
Or remember when we filmed a Live Nation video with rodents running on turntables in the Division of Labor offices? Our talent, eight trained hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats, were true professionals. The baby deer the animal trainer brought along was less so, crapping and pissing in our office every hour on the hour. But what’s a little deer scat among colleagues. And when the video became a Vimeo Staff Pick, it went viral and garnered millions of views, as well as hundreds of reposts to blogs and websites across the planet.
Or remember when the LA Marathon sold out? And we got Kato Caelin to be a spokesman because he’s LA’s biggest sell-out? And remember when O.J. Simpson’s infamous houseguest upped the ante by showing up in Charlie Sheen’s bathrobe? We have no idea why Kato showed up in Charlie Sheen’s bathrobe, but he was super proud of it and he was a pleasure to work with so we skipped wardrobe and shot him in his treasured robe.
Or remember when you did all that great work for that nonprofit dedicated to promoting electric cars? And you pitched this idea to use Arnold Schwarzenegger driving an electric car in an epic special effects laden Hollywood car chase scene. And the client loved the idea and arranged for you to pitch it directly to Arnold. And Arnold agreed to do a commercial but not the one you pitched. And then Arnold cut Division of Labor out of the equation by insisting he’d write his own script and use his own production people? Remember that? Well, even if we lost a major account, at least we get to reminisce about the time Arnold Schwarzenegger stole our account.
And remember when Josh finally finished his cake and said, “OK, get back to work. These award winning ad campaigns aren’t gonna make themselves.”
The Small Agency Blog is produced by Division of Labor; a top San Francisco ad agency and digital marketing firm that’s been named Small Agency of the Year twice by Ad Age. The award-winning creative shop services clients on a retainer or project basis. They also offers brand consulting services and hourly engagements for startups and smaller brands. Click here for a free consultation.