Master of None’s Eric Wareheim directs Mailchimp campaign highlighting whacky small businesses

The campaign features five fictitious companies that were dreamt up by in-house creatives, inspired by real customers of the email marketing platform.

27 September 2021


With its new creative campaign More Than A Small Business, Mailchimp aims to showcase how it eases the daily struggles of small business owners the world over. To add a few sprinkles of absurdism and comedy, the email marketing platform brought on board Eric Wareheim, best known for Master of None and The Tim and Eric Show, to direct the follow-up to its Free as a Mailchimp Store campaign released earlier this year.

For the campaign, Jeremy Jones, the lead creative director for campaigns, and Christian Widlic, lead creative director for design, were inspired by real customers of the online service to create five fictional yet strangely familiar small start-ups. These included: Big Ol’ Floats, a company redefining the pool float game with its infamous unicorn/duck mashup; Corner Dumplings, a family-owned, handmade dumpling company that started in the kitchen and is now expanding to every street corner; Fetcharang, a high-tech dog toy startup that understands the ways of dogs and dog lovers; Frothy Jane Coffee Co., a carbonated coffee powerhouse delivering the finest bubbly java product to customers online; and Metal Lotus Yoga, a heavy-metal-loving yoga studio that approaches namaste slightly differently.

To find inspiration for the five businesses, Widlic and Jones scoured the real customers of Mailchimp, finding some interesting entrepreneurs. “I think that is what’s so unique about our customers, some ideas that you would never think could succeed are in fact succeeding, so our customers are a huge inspiration and we want them to know that,” says Jones.

Widlic continues that representing the diversity of Mailchimp’s customers was one of the main driving ambitions: “It's like you’ve seen these brands before but they’re unique in their own way. Like Metal Lotus Yoga; I live in New York, that would definitely thrive in Brooklyn.” It was vital that whilst showcasing the variety of businesses Mailchimp provides for with its service, and creating unique styles for each of the five brands, all the companies were noticeably of Mailchimp’s style and all existing under one common identity. “We’re so customer-obsessed, we’re obsessed with our mission to empower the underdog,” says Widlic, which is why Mailchimp’s brand ethos needed to be delivered effectively through the campaign.

Mailchimp: More Than A Small Business (Copyright © Mailchimp, 2021)

To do this, to make it “feel Mailchimp-y” from a visual standpoint, the design team devised a visual system that allowed for colours like the Cavendish yellow Mailchimp’s brand identity utilises, and the colours from the businesses’ visual identities, to come together in one system. The visual graphic was derived from Mailchimp’s logo – the winking chimpanzee which features in lieu of the letter ‘O’ many times throughout the campaign – which was used then to frame everything in the campaign and allow for a “consistent, coherent visual thread across everything,” says Widlic.

Jones continues that the photography and video set the precedent for everything else which came after: the team had never featured real people in their advertisements before so it was fun whilst challenging to figure out how to strike the balance of portraying their take on authentic yet eccentric Mailchimp customers. “We weren't trying to be weird or wacky for wacky’s sake – everything had a purpose,” Jones says. Wareheim really helped the team “walk that line” to make the five brands each feel unique and different.

It was also a challenge to create all the business characters within a week and a half, and also making sure what’s happening in the video is also coming through in the stills photography for the campaign. “Even though there’s a slightly different approach to stills because you know they’re static,” says Jones, “we have to try to make the stills campaign feel like it’s moving and dynamic.”

One of the things that really attracted Jones and Widlic to Wareheim for the direction of the video campaign was his humour, which the pair felt was “very much aligned with us”. Sprinklings of absurdism are evident throughout the campaign, whilst not appearing too weirdly unrelatable. Mailchimp aimed to make its campaign absurd enough to make it feel unique whilst being really relatable to everyone, a reflection, it hopes, of the platform’s ethos.

The campaign was created by Mailchimp’s in-house creative teams as it hopes to grow its in-house creative capabilities and will run across digital platforms and print.

GalleryMailchimp: More Than A Small Business (Copyright © Mailchimp, 2021)

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Mailchimp: More Than A Small Business (Copyright © Mailchimp, 2021)

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About the Author

Dalia Al-Dujaili

Dalia is a freelance writer, producer and editor based in London. She’s currently the digital editor of Azeema, and the editor-in-chief of The Road to Nowhere Magazine. Previously, she was news writer at It’s Nice That, after graduating in English Literature from The University of Edinburgh.

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