Agency News    03.08.21

2021 year in review

The Year of Covid was a lot of things. Dull was not one of them. We head into spring, eight clients busier and several categories smarter.

It’s been a weird one, no doubt. But for us, this past year goes down as one of the most action-packed in Fame history – a blur of new business wins and amazing feats of socially distanced production. In WFH mode since April, we’ve learned much. Mostly about multiple new client industries and IT troubleshooting – but also the nuances of our co-workers’ home décor and coffee mug collection. We’ve acquired eight (EIGHT!) new accounts, in industries ranging from healthcare to outdoor adventuring. Which means we can now effortlessly rattle off a number of sobering chronic kidney disease stats, discuss the merits of ketamine treatment for depression AND list the best UTVs for mudding – in the same conversation, should all three topics happen to come up.

On the healthcare front, we’ve reunited with former MinuteClinic clients who are mid-launch on a new tech-savvy, prevention- and partnership-driven concept in primary care. Following an exhaustive naming/trademarking exercise, we’ve dubbed it The Good Clinic, a humble handle for a truly great idea. Additionally, we developed the positioning, brand identity and voice, and offered oversight on how to best apply the fresh, modern brand look to the environment. It’s a much-needed, relationship-focused model run by nurse practitioners, with a streamlined, hassle-free check-in and paperwork process. The first clinic is slated to open in North Minneapolis in a matter of weeks, with an aggressive rollout plan across several Southern and Western states (exact 2-letter postal abbreviations to be revealed soon).

We also led the launch for Cricket Health, a tech-forward, patient-centric new approach to caring for people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition currently afflicting 37M people in the US. Our San Fran and Boston based client team is an impressive combo of nephrology specialists with a series of multi-lettered credentials following their names, and former LinkedIn execs who understand how to leverage technology for good. Since 90% of patients with Stage 1-3 CKD don’t even know they have it, the goal is to identify the condition earlier, while providing resources and a support community including everything from a dietitian and nurse, to a pharmacist and peer mentor. For the branding, we finessed the existing logo and created a robust identity system with a distinctive palette, ownable icons and more inviting photo style. We crafted a confident, warm, reassuring brand voice, taking inspiration from their bold, well-considered brand pillars (things like ‘We dare mighty things’ ) – and rolled it out to the website, as well as print and digital partner campaigns for their healthcare network partners across the country.

In yet more healthcare news, we spent the summer creating a brand awareness and acquisition campaign for Wisconsin-based Aspirus – a plan provider promising locals the best combination of coverage, service and affordability, and poised to take on thousands of new Medicare Advantage members. Our campaign features everyday north-central Wisconsinites doing everyday north-central Wisconsinite things, with a shoutout to nearby towns to reinforce the provider’s north-central Wisconsin-ness. The campaign encompasses TV, direct mail, out-of-home and digital banners, and each element signs off with the neighborly, reassuring ‘For everything that happens to happen, we’ve got you.’

And lastly, but not at all least-ly in our Fame 2020 healthcare news – there’s Chicago-based Innovative Ketamine. We started partnering with this small-but-speedily-growing clinic last year to create a campaign promoting a phenomenally successful breakthrough for treatment-resistant depression. It’s working for 75%(!) of patients – yep. Seventy. Five. Percent. (Spelled out for emphasis in case you missed the digit-version.) That’s incredibly welcome news for a condition that’s frustratingly complicated to treat and exceptionally elusive in terms of cure. We were in production when the Covid crisis commandeered the attention of the clinic team, who immediately pivoted, setting up rapid test tents in the heart of the city, with the capacity to screen thousands of residents daily. The campaign launched a few weeks ago, spreading the good word that there’s finally (FINALLY!) a depression treatment that works.

And in non-healthcare news, last winter we started a project with new client Wiley, corporate culture gurus who had developed a genius anytime-access platform for the workstyle assessment program Everything DiSC, where employees can not only reference their own profile, but also their co-workers’ for real-time help with situations with the potential to go – well – not so well. They were ready to press Go on the launch, but then – Covid. Yeah. When everyone switched to remote officing, the team quickly realized that situation brought on a whole new set of challenges (and we’re not talkin’ IT here). They saw how all that interpersonal stuff that’s already tricky in person, gets even trickier when you’re not there in person. The team quickly adapted the program, tailoring it to be more relevant with what teams were dealing with on a daily basis. Our “The Office of Unicorns” campaign shows how people can work together (virtually or in-person) in a way that brings out the best in them all.

In food news, we got the band back together with our BlackStack Brewing clients, who just opened a brewery/pizza joint in Burnsville that needed some brand-love. New Bricksworth Beer is named for the Wisconsin brick cheese they use as pizza-topper, and (full disclosure) we consumed more than our fair share of that melty, stretchy goodness during the project’s logo development stage. (Inspiration.) Definitely worth a swing-by in you happen to be in the area. Equally definitely worth a detour if you’re nowhere near it. (More disclosure: we’re headed there now.)

We’ve got some work in progress currently happening with Polaris UTVs – the OG, and in our fairly well-informed opinion, still the best – with the racing wins, versatility, and #1 top-trusted claims to prove it. Production is in the works, with plans to roll out just in time for the spring thaw and rain (read: WOOHOO – MUD).

And finally, we’ll wrap here with a fitness client. Not that we’re all that hard-core in that area, but we do like ourselves a daily run or group class to clear our heads (or as penance for things like – mmmm – pie). After cranking through an international brand refresh and environmental update for Anytime Fitness last year, we transitioned to the smaller boutique sister brand, Basecamp Fitness (both under the Self Esteem Brands umbrella). First launched by Zappos owner Nick Swinmurn, Basecamp is an intense group fitness concept with a handful of locations in SoCal and the Midwest. They brought us in to refine the brand positioning, and create a new identity and scalable environmental design they could roll out as they franchise and market to fitness fans internationally. We kept the gritty element of the brand’s inception, with a fear-no-goal brand voice, bold, strong type and gradated lighting all reflecting the intensity of the workout and driven-ness of this like-minded community. The website is live, and studio reno’s are near completion, so guess you could say we’ve hit the cool-down stage.

Whewwwww. All that to say this. We emerge from this past year’s pandemic with a far more adaptive mindset and much gratitude for each other, our beyond-cool clients who’ve entrusted us with their businesses, and the borderline-remarkable amount of work we accomplished amid the year’s chaos. Thank you thank you. (Is it too soon to talk plans for 2022?)