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The Industry Theory, and Why You Should Take the Leap
By: Cameron Kirkwood
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As we all well know, out there lies a line of innovators and an ocean of followers; risk takers and those who will take the risk once it’s safe.

Have you ever noticed a correlation in what I call an industry-wide brand? Specifically, I would like to refer to finance, once revered as the most white-collar industry. Naturally, how could you expect it to be anything else? You’re dealing with number crunching. Taxes. Insurance. 

Yet in recent years, it has exploded into one of the most adventurous, creative, and endearing sections in advertising. Yesterday, Jan 4, 2015, W+K produced a campaign on the simplicity of using TurboTax and is set to run a Super Bowl spot as part of the bundle. The spots seen thus far are funny, delightful, and parallel the example of this finance-wide brand.

But when did this daring approach to financial advertising become a thing? Before TurboTax, there was H&R block. Before that, State Farm. Keep in mind, I am referring to their break into this new era of risk branding, not their establishment as companies.

At the very start of it all, you guessed it — there was Geico. (Notice how insurance eventually weaved its way into taxes.) You would be a fool to say that Geico does not reside at the pinnacle of 2000s advertising. Ironically, a friend was stating his disdain for the place purely because of the amount he sees their name. But that’s for later.

Maybe you think I am giving them too much credit. To that, I say you’re not giving them enough. Trust me when I say that clients with the gall to take big risks are not a dime a dozen, let alone pioneer an entire creative revolution in one of the most uptight industries, period.

Crazy! Out of the question! Beyond comprehension! 

No doubt some of the things inevitably said at the boardroom discussing this complete 180 brand change. No — industry change.

My buddy mentioned how annoying their brand was. They earned it. Just like Coca-Cola, they established themselves as the pioneers. The risk-takers. Their booming success funnels from this starting point and in return they can afford to constantly produce their advertising.

This industry theory can be strung together throughout any profession. 


  • Produce  —  Family oriented with lots of smiley faces & logo changes.
  • Health — Serious with a chance of tears.
  • Education  —  Snooze-inducing and…educational.
  • Athletics — Inspirational and sexy people.
  • Automotive  —  Shiny with a slice of beautiful views.

The list goes on, and like most people, I get tired of the same ol’ thing. So what I want to take the opportunity to say is: Clients, be that pioneer. Don’t wait for your industry to break the game for you.

TAKE that risk. Agencies will love you. The chance to push the boundary is irresistible to any creative visionary.

Make your competitors feel safe in following what you dared to create.

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About the Author
Cameron Kirkwood is a recent graduate, but a forever student of advertising. An aspiring brand strategist and digital aficionado, Cameron seeks to change the game through new and different channels of advertising in an ever extensively growing industry.
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