Mood Board

Mood Board: A HubSpot campaign offers a redemption arc for unlikely CEOs

We talked to two of the creatives behind the platform’s first global campaign.
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Photos: HubSpot, Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall

· 3 min read

Gaslight, gold-keep, girlboss.

For its first global brand campaign, customer relationship management (CRM) platform HubSpot has brought in actor and comedian Kathryn Hahn to embody different characters in need of a redemption arc and some business know-how. Hahn’s first character? A pirate CEO determined to set sail on a new way of managing her crew, customers, and—of course—her treasure.

We sat down with 72andSunny’s senior copywriter Whitney Yando and senior art director Clare Jensen to discuss the idea behind the campaign, the creative elements, and Hahn’s influence on the character.

On the hook: One thing the creative team had to make clear in creating this ad was just what CRM means, exactly. “It’s not just like, ‘Hey, buy this Coca-Cola,’” Yando said. “We were trying to come up with a concept where you can share a lot of information—and especially what sets them apart from other CRMs—but then also make that entertaining and hopefully enjoyable to watch.”

Jarrrgon (get it?): Part of the fun in making the ad for the creative team was bringing in references to corporate norms and phrases. For example, Hahn’s character says the pillage, loot, and set-fire-to-the-village model of piracy is “ripe for disruption” and that she won’t let her customers “slip through the planks.” Yando said this is in direct reference to the way many speak at work, “almost like how robots speak about business, but I think when you pair it with a pirate ship, it becomes absurd and funny.”

Thar she blows: Another way the 72andSunny team brought the corporate world to the seven seas was through visual elements. While the Fast Company cover at 0:09 and map printer at 0:24 are some of the more obvious ones, there’s also an Easter egg at 0:26. “If you look for the parrots, you can see that they’re actually wearing little Britney Spears sales headsets, which was one of my absolute favorite additions,” Jensen said. In another version of the ad, Yando pointed out that they also have a pirate at her desk, sitting on a barrel like a yoga ball.

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Setting sail: In addition to running the video ads on TV and social media, the creative team also designed NYC ferry and bus wraps to make them look like pirate ships. Other OOH elements, like painted murals, will be popping up in cities like San Francisco and Chicago. The team even created a special ad for the Fast Company “Most Innovative Companies” edition, in which readers will be linked to a video of Hahn saying congratulations from one CEO to another.

Hahn top of it: As her self-proclaimed No. 1 fan, Yando said getting Hahn involved was a huge win—and it paid off bringing a comedian onboard (pun intended). In addition to the energy she brought to the set, Hahn also added her own twist to the material, like ad-libbing the line at the end of the spot about valuing gold—but mostly customers.

While the next CEO character is TBD, Yando said the character has to be “a little bit shady or have a reputation for not being the best in the business” to show where HubSpot can potentially help them grow. One example she had was Poseidon, who “probably wouldn’t be a great CEO.” Only time will tell if we’ll see Poseid-Hahn in action.

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