After getting the strategy and a few sample headlines locked, the core team had about four weeks to extrapolate that info into 10 lockups.
The concept for the campaign was simple, and employed a device Intercom had long used in marketing: old way vs. new way. If we could show you how outdated your current customer support strategies are, the value prop of Intercom will be clear.
A direction we pursued early on but ultimately decided didn't speak to a mid-market or enterprise audience
involved an imaginary Office Space style work environment whose antiquated beaurocracy was keeping a central character from doing their job well.
The direction that won out in the end
gravitated around ads that broke tropes and escaped feature based product marketing. This style was attractive because the “Or you could use Intercom” would only work if the viewer knew to some extent that they were being advertised to.
Unlike these iconic ads from well established brands, the set-up for our ads required a bad product. Something you'd seen before, definitely related to, but actually didn't exist.
We had a lot of good ideas floating around, with a variety of visual aesthetics. Eventually we realized the world of "bad" needed something to unify it other than just not being good. We needed a common enemy. "Bad" needed its own brand. A strong one, one that would connect the ads.
Average Business was born.
“Average Business was the Great Foil to Intercom for this campaign. It allowed us to create good bad good corporate design for a physical product line, and buy a domain that I may still someday use.”
Designer, Tik-tok dancer
Under the umbrella of Average Business' cold, colorless, IBM meets no-name brand, authority it became easier to focus and iterate on individual elements.
For the month of September, Intercom bought out every ad at Montgumery station—where thousands of visiting SaaS marketers and tech workers would be arriving for Dreamforce.
When a few agencies politely said no to our 6 week deadline, the duties of director (and obviously chief gaffer) fell on me. I grabbed a prop from our photoshoot, cut a cardboard stand, and gently positioned my iphone on a ladder to film a proof of concept.
To my surprise, my iphone sample won me the go-ahead from Brand Director Stew to please figure out what a "4k" is and please stop saying "sir yes sir".
I reduced all spots to a single shot—shifting the pressure to team strengths of prop visuals and motion graphics.
Jason Yim production designed, set designed, and modeled over the two day shoot. Dani Balenson and I designed the onscreen graphics, Lindenfield composed and produced the music, Brent Clouse assited with animation. I directed, edited, and engineered the audio.
Kyle is an art director, letterer and illustrator in Sunny Oakland California. He runs Very Cool for a love of the game, is a brand lead at Intercom for love of the wage, and stumbles at Song Club Records for love of the fame.