NEW YORK: Cohn & Wolfe is trying to showcase its branding prowess by advocating for the much-maligned city rat.
The agency wanted to stress its ability to tackle even the most difficult of causes, so, after several brainstorming sessions, it opted to rebrand the New York rat as the "great pointed archer."
"We wanted to illustrate that we're great at branding and unconventional thinking," said Jeremy Baka, C&W's chief creative catalyst. "It felt so boring to just do an ad; we wanted to illustrate [our campaign] in real life."
The firm unveiled three viral videos, which showed humans caught in rodent traps as rats shrieked in fear, as well as an interactive website. At its peak, greatpointedarcher.com saw 500,000 unique visitors over a four-day period.
C&W also hired fake protesters to decry a common labor union tactic of using a large inflatable rat to protest employers that hire non-union workers.
The mock-protesters held their rally in Washington Square Park, close to the New York University campus, as a labor union - complete with giant rat- held its own demonstration nearby.
Despite the campaign's jocular theme, C&W approached measurement very seriously by monitoring online buzz and courting the media.
Steve Hall, editor of Adrants. com, said that while the payoff did not seem that big in light of the build-up, he did find it impressive in comparison to other business pitches.
"It did succeed in its goal to garner buzz in marketing circles quite effectively," he said. "If other agencies do go this route to promote themselves, which they undoubtedly will, Great Pointed Archer will be looked back upon as one of the better efforts."
At one point, Baka said, the firm debated whether it should deceive the media or confess that a PR agency was behind the media campaign, before ultimately deciding to be forthright.
The New York Post was the publication that exposed C&W. The firm then sent out b-roll of the protest.