The Weird Science of advertising agency self-promotion

Our copywriter, Katie Shoard, delves into the strange world of Weird Science and agency self-promotion

Advertising agency self-promotion is a wily old beast. Being given carte blanche for a piece of new business dm may seem like a creatives’ dream, but anyone who’s ever had a crack at the perennial Christmas card brief knows that in order to give your agency standout, whatever you come up, no matter how pretty, needs to have some really solid thinking behind it.

And in our case, an injection of something a little bit weirder.

Of course, when I said ‘carte blanche’ I actually was referring to the new double-dip recession version which can be defined roughly as thus: ‘Do what you like, but don’t take the mick’. Fair enough. Blowing the cash for our Christmas party six months before the event wasn’t going to make us popular anyway, so the wooing of potential clients with a personalised Tom-Jones-a-gram was (sadly) out of the question.

illustrations from the Geek Love spread of Weird ScienceWe needed an angle. So to find it, a few pertinent questions needed answering. The kind of self-defining questions that agencies side-step while everyone’s getting on with the everyday buzz and hum of work, like: ‘Who are we?’ ‘What do we do that sets us apart?’ ‘Why would a potential client want to work with us?’ and ‘How does Keith in studio survive when no one has seen him eat, ever?”

It didn’t take long for it to become clear that it is our meticulous approach to research and stringent results analysis that makes us different. Our eye-tracking machine, Tobii, is key to this, allowing us to analyse how customers are reading and responding to the communications we produce, indicating what’s working and what areas could be stronger. Like every other full service agency, we can say we can also produce award-winning creative, sharp brand strategy and offer excellent client management… but not everyone has a friend like Tobii.

One of our Advanced Buyology pages from Weird Science

And so the concept of ‘Weird Science’ was born: our empirical, experimental and extraordinary approach to marketing. We wanted to cover three main areas, our ‘Under the Skin’ philosophy, which was transformed into ‘Geek Love’; the range of integrated marketing services we offer, ‘Advanced Buyology’; and ‘Tinker Test Tweak’, an overview of our commitment to analysis and continual improvement – featuring a special appearance from Tobii. And we threw in some case studies for good measure.


I created an off-beat tone of voice to go with the mad professor style of Jen’s scamps. Then we had to find the right format. Originally we had wanted to create retro style ‘science kits’ – wooden boxes with brass hinges containing test tubes with case studies and a ‘scientific’ report about Red C’s methodology. Unfortunately, the budget didn’t stretch that far, so instead we went for a large format A2 12 page booklet on lovely, heavy, textured stock, and to bring it to life we got the chance to work once again with Andy Smith, the illustrator who created the Red C murals in our reception.

The Tinker Test Tweak page of the Red C Weird Science DM pack

Under Jen’s direction, Andy did a great job of bringing the concept to life. He created petri dish monsters, microscopes with eyeballs, ink spiders and lots of other weird and wonderful details to prick the imagination. We’re really pleased with the result of our Weird Science project… Nearly as pleased as the two computer nerds were when Kelly Le Brook appeared in the 80s film of the same name.

Let’s hope our potential clients are too.