Why is the Platypus the best example for marketing success?

The platypus is a seemingly impossible creature. When first reported in 1759 that an egg-laying mammal with webbed feet, beaver body and a duck bill was found in Australia, Englishmen thought the news to be a hoax. And that’s part of the fun (that and saying the word duck-billed platypus) of thinking about this unlikely Frankenstein of a creature. But what if we told you that the platypus is a great example of marketing genius?

The platypus demonstrates three key concepts of marketing:

• It’s creative. It takes two unlikely ideas, mashes them together into a fresh new concept. The platypus is unique and memorable.

• It’s strategic. The platypus has a finely defined niche and has survived for millions of years. It is positioned for success.

• It defends its territory. The platypus sports deadly venomous spurs on its feet. It will challenge predators to overcome them.

As a marketing mascot, the improbably cute duck-billed platypus is perfect. To which we have to say: What’s your platypus?

Oregon Humane Society

The Challenge: Shelters are perceived as a sad place where animals are imprisoned, waiting for a home. Further, shelters often use guilt to attempt to bring in potential adopters to “save the animals.” The Oregon Humane Society is a happy place where animals are treated with respect and love. How can we project that vision?

Insight:  People will respond to positive, life-affirming messages that appeal to their inherent self-interest. Instead of saving animals, let’s turn it around and save ourselves from a life of “petlessness.”

Big idea:  Objective: Increase adoptions of dogs, cats and small animals; increase awareness of Oregon Humane Society; increase donations to OHS.

The Work: The optimistic campaign message, “End Petlessness,” features fun illustrations celebrating humans and their furry soul mates. LK uses outdoor, broadcast TV, cinema advertising and digital media, and we work with the in-house OHS team to coordinate social media.

Results:  Adoption rates that are among the highest in the country with dogs at 99% and cats at a remarkable 96%. For perspective, the national averages are, respectively, 25% and 20%. There is a wait list to volunteer at OHS. Donations have never been higher. Our media added-value is worth an additional 100% of the buy.


Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Challenge: After years of brand stagnancy, OPB was ready to refresh their brand.

Insight: Oregonians like to be engaged in civic life and thoughtful discussion. The relationship between OPB and Oregonians is fostered by “active participation.”

Big Idea: The NPR affiliate wanted to connect with a younger audience and better reflect the unique curiosity, intelligence and thoughtfulness that defines Oregonians.

The Work: OPB declared that they are the media source for people who like to think. The redesigned logos are bright and cheery and thematically tied to the colors of Oregon itself. We used television, print and outdoor advertising that made people think — “Ever get a song stuck in your head? Try an idea. OPB.”

Results:  OPB enjoyed a record membership drive, a focused internal audience who warmly embraced the brand and the successful launch of “Think Out Loud,” a show we conceived and named. “Think Out Loud” has since become OPB’s signature show.


Sketch Book

Getting away from the computer is helpful to not going crazy. Especially when you’re in front of it for 9+ hours a day. The Sketch Book represents 10-minute exercises that involve the ancient technique of doodling. In most cases they don’t involve much brain function either. They are hiccups. Or sneezes. They are the gray area between thinking and doing. Most of these doodles start out as a line on a page and become something bigger.

But mostly they are a remedy from the crazies.

Pendleton Whisky

The Challenge:  Innovation is a potential revenue stream that can easily be overlooked.  Fortunately, our client Hood River Distillers realized that new product innovation was an important growth strategy when they asked us to create a new Canadian whisky brand for them.

Insight:   As we examined the category, we saw a huge opportunity — Crown Royal sat uncontested as the only premium Canadian whisky.  What’s more, Crown Royal was an exceptionally diffuse brand, appealing to communities ranging from cowboys, to NASCAR to hip-hop. Of these communities, we found Crown’s association with cowboys to be the most curious. Crown’s imagery of purple velvet and ostentatious gold crowns seemed categorically opposed to the stark and humble lifestyle embraced by cowboys.

Big Idea:  This insight refined our opportunity.  We knew that there was space to attack Crown at the top, and then we saw where Crown was most vulnerable. We had to create a premium whisky for cowboys.

The Work:  To keep our brand as authentic as possible, the famous Pendleton Round-Up in Pendleton, Oregon, became our inspiration. This choice gave our brand a sense of place, and eventually became its name. Everything about Pendleton Canadian Whisky, from packaging to its taste profile, was born from the tried and true Cowboy lifestyle found in Pendleton.

We were also responsible for the marketing around Pendleton Whisky’s launch and growth. For this, we used a community marketing approach that has more in common with Harley Davidson’s marketing than traditional spirits marketing. Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, our work was polarizing. It was only meant to resonate with a specific group. Just like with Harley, outsiders need not apply.

Our goal was to immerse ourselves in the cowboy community. We used real cowboys and cowgirls from Pendleton as models and shot ads and POS in the rodeo arena to achieve just that. And we were very successful. Cowboys from all over the West became our disciples, putting Pendleton Whisky patches on their hats and stickers on their trucks. As they traveled the circuit from Cheyenne to Oklahoma City, these cowboys worked as our brand ambassadors, proudly sharing Pendleton Whisky with their peers.

Results:  Since its launch, Pendleton Whisky has been one of the fastest-growing whiskies in the US, enjoying a compound annual growth rate of 82% during its first five years. Last year, Pendleton Whisky was asked to sponsor the National Rodeo Finals in Las Vegas, which helped elevate its status to that of other iconic cowboy brands like Wrangler and Montana Silversmiths.

But more than just being a successful one-off brand, Pendleton Whisky allowed Hood River Distillers to develop an entirely new revenue stream with a portfolio of premium spirits. We developed two new brands for them, Yazi Ginger Vodka and Ullr Schnapps, both of which are growing quickly. And with the distribution leverage created by Pendleton, Hood River Distillers has also been able to become the US distributor of award-winning brands like Broker’s Gin and Cockspur Rum.


Planned Parenthood

The Challenge:  One of Planned Parenthood’s goals is to reach out to young adult women as a reproductive health resource. Yet the organization is perceived as a last-resort clinic.

Insight:  This audience responds best to open, honest communication about sexuality. Even though the topic is critically important, it’s OK to talk about it in a way that acknowledges that it feels uncomfortable to discuss seriously. Awkward, silly humor that informs is much more likely to stick and spread than another fear-mongering brochure.

Big idea:  Establish Planned Parenthood as the organizational equivalent of your smart, understanding and helpful aunt. Make it a place teenagers feel comfortable with and welcome to turn to when they need help but may feel reluctant to seek.

The Work: The resulting campaign, “Take Care Down There,” used cheeky ads in alternative publications, bus stops, bus sides and restroom media to direct young adults to the clinics and to the website, TakeCareDownThere.org. At the site, one sees humorous videos on reproductive health that don’t talk down to our audience.

Results:  The website received 60,000 hits in one day, over 100,000 visits in a single weekend and more than 1,500 linking sites. The website and videos were featured on abcnews.com, Fox TV, Gawker blogs and was even hailed by VH1’s Best Week Ever as “totally rad.”


Not All Taglines Can Be Winners

A list of taglines that we considered, though ultimately rejected, for clients, edited to be about us instead.
Leopold Ketel: Accept the unknowable
LK: Surpass the infinite
LK: Square the circle
LK: See through concrete
LK: We know where wind lives
LK: Touch the face of God
Rend the Veil. Leopold Ketel.
Suppose truth were a woman? Find out more at leoketel.com
Hear the color red. Leopold Ketel
“Like” us on Facebook and see how you will die! Leopold Ketel
How much is too much? Leopold Ketel
Seven deadly sins and one great production manager! Leopold Ketel
Respect is built of both love and fear. So is Leopold Ketel.
Unendurable sensation by Leopold Ketel.
Baptism by Terror: Leopold Ketel
Leopold Ketel: Everything, forever