GKV’s Mission:

To Help Challenger Brands Win

The secret to our secret sauce… our culture. We’re scrappy. We push each other. We’re treasure hunters for where brands can live in people’s lives, authentically, meaningfully. We think big and with purpose, but we tell our stories small. Digital and social media have allowed us to level the playing field for our challenger brand clients, and we’re loving every minute of it.

Select Clients

Some Examples of our Work

Flavor with flava engages and returns ROI

McCormick has become all things flavor. They have expanded from their original red cap line of spices via line extensions like Grillmates and acquisitions like Lawry’s, Frank’s RedHot, French’s, Thai Kitchen and Simply Asia, and more.

For generations, they relied on recipes to create demand for their flavor products, and social media was the next logical delivery channel. Now as millennials cook more and more, McCormick turned to GKV to help evolve their approach to appeal to this audience.

Millennials and millennial-minded consumers don’t want just rigid recipes, they want to be inspired to experiment with flavor. They want relatable brands with a sense of humor, engaged with popular culture. And they prefer Instagram and Pinterest to Facebook. It’s the non-recipe recipe for success. Based on today’s high engagement rates with GKV produced content and advertising, consumers are getting what they wished for and more.


Taking on the big guy takes humanity, humor and the best balls

Golf is a hard game to play, right? Well, what if it weren’t? After spending millions on research and conducting over 3 million ball fitting tests, Bridgestone Golf concluded that golf can be made easier and more enjoyable if golfers change one thing – their ball.

Ads, emails and social posts feature Tiger Woods, other pros and everyday golfers demonstrating in fun, humorous ways the better results they can expect when they play the best ball for their game. Media is laser focused with digital videos, banners, social posts and email blasts.

Over the course of the 2018 season, over 1 billion impressions will surround golfers with a single message – if you want to play better golf, you need to play a better ball, a Bridgestone ball. Last year, GKV’s first with Bridgestone Golf, was a record year. We’re now going for two in a row.

Verizon may have the money, but Sprint has the funny

So, how has the world chosen to utilize the awesome potential of mobile technology and the Internet? To watch hilarious animal videos on their mobile phones.

Oh well, why fight it? Why not leverage this significant behavior to humorously illustrate the benefits of Sprint’s upgraded towers and wireless network?

Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but both are givers

Open any magazine and you’ll see countless jewelry ads featuring ridiculously aspirational beauties or celebrities living the lives of the rich and famous. PANDORA, however, began with a different premise: Make fine jewelry available to everyone. There was only one problem. PANDORA’s global tagline, Unforgettable Moments, was leading people to celebrate only their most significant moments — wedding, birth of a baby — and the business was stalling.

At GKV, we saw things a bit differently, too. What makes someone truly unique is not just the big moments in life, but all the little ones as well. So we freed the brand to be about the little moments that define us just as much as big moments.

This also freed the brand to express itself and its relevancy every day via digital banners, videos and microsites, like ‘PANDORA Perfect Gift Finder’ to generate gift ideas by answering simple questions and ‘PANDORA Uniquely Me’ for self-expression and self-gifting ideas.

From 2010 to 2015, the brand grew 670%, to $1.5 billion. Now that’s unforgettable.

Local differences create a national family favorite

OLD BAY has been the go-to seafood seasoning for people up and down the Chesapeake Bay for over 75 years, and now, across the USA. Who better to welcome new members into the OLD BAY extended family?!

With limited dollars, but unlimited creativity, GKV rewrote the lyrics to a favorite summer sing-a-long to sing the praises of OLD BAY. The campaign encourages people to boldly explore all the foods that can be made better by adding this signature blend of 18 herbs and spices features digital videos, banners, social posts and out of home in OLD BAY’s core markets of Baltimore and Washington, DC, as well as some high potential markets across the USA!

Today, OLD BAY leads the category bringing in new buyers and in sales velocity.

A good feeling makes for a great personality

Back to Nature was one of the originators of the natural foods movement in the ‘60s, but to grow, they needed to appeal to today’s moms. They went back to where their journey began by celebrating the joyful attitude people have when they pursue the natural path to a vibrant, healthy life, but they evolved their brand to be in-step with today’s food-loving culture.

The “Snack Happy” campaign uses a fresh, culturally relevant voice to draw attention to the delicious natural ingredients in Back to Nature snacks as well as the not-so-good-for-you things that Back to Nature leaves out, like gluten, GMOs and high-fructose corn sugar.

Digital videos, banners and social posts feel like a totally natural part of our target moms’ daily conversations and content. The brand’s social and advertising engagement is at an all-time high and sales are continuing to grow.

Sticking the landing when going over the top takes skills

Cape Cod kettle-cooked chips launched in the 80s in a small storefront in Hyannis, MA. The chips soon became a local favorite. But outside of the region, they were swallowed up by a sea of Frito-Lay products.

Research indicated that the brand’s greatest strengths were its authentic Cape Cod roots and remarkably good taste, so we branded Cape Cod as the Home of Ridiculously Good Chips and developed a campaign that begins on a Cape Cod beach among a flock of seagulls. It ends in a far less expected place.

Our regional roll-out results weren’t just good — they were ridiculously good. Proven ad recall quadrupled and sales increased by 25%. The challenge for year two was even greater: go national with not a whole lot more money. Goodbye, TV, hello, 100% digital (pre-roll, banners and social media), and hello to another year of 25% sales growth!


Market leaders need to lead

Snyder’s of Hanover Pretzels have been a family staple since 1909. Everyone loves the taste and crunch. And moms love their wholesome goodness. But as time went by, tastier and better-for-you snacks came along, making pretzels less relevant and appealing.

Ethnographic research revealed that for some, pretzels were bland, brown and boring. For others, they were a blank canvas that could be dipped, topped, s’mored and more … offering limitless … pretzelbilities. A new word was born and a category reinvented.

Only one problem. Budget. There was a lot more to be said than our budget could afford. To make this work, we would need to break some cardinal CPG rules: WHAT…no bite and smile?! That’s not enough TV! Where’s the tasty ingredients everywhere?! You can’t do that many ads for that little money!

See how GKV’s Challenger Brand approach made Snyder’s of Hanover relevant (and growing) again for pennies on the dollar!

Becoming the hometown hero

Shentel is a broadband provider serving rural communities in Virginia and West Virginia, historically underserved areas, where people dislike cable companies even more than the rest of us.

Shentel upgraded their network to fiber optics, but did not experience any real growth. For highly mistrustful consumers, the claim of fastest Internet, sharpest TV and clearest voice was just another claim.

GKV re-branded Shentel to reflect its rural, neighborly roots and unique position as the region’s only local provider (they began as Shenandoah Telephone over 100 years ago). “Always Connected to You” presents Shentel as an authentic, hard-working member of the communities it serves, a company that will succeed with actions, not words. A sharp contrast in a category that was completely lacking humanity. Shentel’s business responded immediately and so did its net promoter scores, so we weren’t the only ones promoting the brand.


Pop culture simplifies and springboards for maximum effect

Since any day that repeats itself is referred to as a “Groundhog Day,” this little guy seemed like a natural. We’d like to introduce our Cash4Life Groundhog. He’s the hero behind GKV’s campaign for the Maryland Lottery’s new drawing game. Cash4Life is all about the chance to win $1,000 every single day for the rest of your life.

While most people can imagine how awesome life would be if they won a big jackpot, our Cash4Life groundhog was charged with showing that while $1,000 might not seem like much, $1,000 a day for life, every day, could be the best day ever!

Quick Facts

  • Founded in 1981
  • Headquartered near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
  • Staff of 81 full-time marketing professionals
  • Capitalized billings of $122 million
  • Member 4A’s
    (American Association of Advertising Agencies)
  • Integrated communications firm

Full-Service Agency

  • Brand Development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Research
  • Advertising
  • Direct Marketing
  • Media Planning / Buying
  • Public Relations
  • Broadcast Production
  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Media / Content Creation
  • Web Design
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Event Planning
  • Community Outreach
  • Grassroots / Mobile Marketing

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