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How Treacle used Beige to build a bigger agency brand


By The Drum, Editorial

December 7, 2023 | 6 min read

In a novel approach to marketing their agency, Treacle decided to launch and market another agency. Meet Beige - the world's most average agency. But the results were far from average and saw Treacle's profile go through the roof. The cheeky campaign also won the the Marketing & Comms Award at The Drum Awards for Agency Business. Here is the award-winning case study.

Example of the award-winning work

Hey, have you heard of Beige?

It’s the agency on everyone’s lips.

“I think that’s the first time I’ve actually wanted to read more of a website. Bravo” said one person.

“A modern masterpiece” said another.

It was also a massive piss-take. Let’s rewind…


We’re Treacle. Our mission is to turn agencies into standout brands. Because if they’re blending in, they’re losing out. Our ‘screw the status quo’ ethos means taking creative risks for our clients. Showing them an exciting eleven even though they asked for a safe seven. Our job’s to push them to places they can’t reach alone. Sure, we’re structured and strategic, but we want to create work that turns heads. And what better way to do that than with a good old fashioned publicity stunt? Because nothing gets agency folk talking more than a fake project designed to stir up debate. That’s literally 90% of LinkedIn these days.

So after years of preaching the dangers of blending in - like Westboro Baptist Church but less awful and more nerdy - we decided that showing not telling was a smarter approach.

We had one main objective for this: get people talking. And preferably without spending much money. Because we’re really stingy. And after much deliberation in the form of a 30-minute chat and several beers, we came up with Beige…


No idea what that means? Us neither. But it sounds cool, right? We built a whole site packed full of that kind of super creative copy for a fictional agency called Beige. It had all the buzzwords, all the jargon, and all the hollow statements that most agency people recognize from every single agency website ever. This isn’t a new idea but humor goes a long way in marketing. And our particularly cynical brand of humor made the idea of a parody appealing. We held a mirror up to the industry with a knowing nod to the audience, making them feel as if they were in on the joke.

We also know that agency-folk are notoriously pack-like, congregating in online communities and platforms, commenting, sharing, networking. Keen to be awarded with a gold star for finding the next buzzy meme. So we expected at least a bit of attention.

But we grossly underestimated…

HOLY CRAP IT ACTUALLY WORKED?! It sure did. In May ‘23 Beige saw a massive 11,306 page views with an average session time of 3.57 mins. The buzz and momentum gathered pace into June ‘23 which saw a whopping 12,414 page views and an even higher average session time of 4 mins 29 seconds. Turns out agency folk have a lot of spare time. The noise on social media exceeded all expectations. A single post from founder Roland Gurney’s Linkedin profile racked up close to 55,000 impressions. And the engagement was off-the-scale. 108 comments and 36 reposts. The dream for an organic post, right?

The campaign even went viral beyond LinkedIn with peers and long-lost past contacts coming out of the woodwork to let us know their thoughts. Beige became a topic of discussion in Helena Traill’s WhatsApp chat via a friend. The Nooh Studio founder felt compelled to reach out to us to marvel at how spectacularly average the campaign was: “I’m absolutely howling. Thank you for making my day” Jef Loeb of US based Brainchild Creative found his appreciation of Beige bordering on amorous: “I don’t know whether I’m in love or lust.” Steady on, Jef.

More importantly, curious LinkedIn users flocked to both the Treacle company page and our website. The week of the 24th April 2023 was one of our biggest weeks ever in terms of traffic for 1,300 users with 70% of those heading to us from social media, no doubt thanks to Beige. The Treacle LinkedIn company page enjoyed a handful of weeks throughout April and May where it really felt the love.

Upwards of 150+ visits in just a week was something only enjoyed previously when we were running an expensive LinkedIn ad campaign. This buzz generated by our Beige campaign has no doubt contributed to some spikes against our key metrics. July ‘23 was our biggest month ever, exceeding our monthly revenue target by 356%. This marks an impressive 681% uplift on July ‘22. The buzz created in the three months leading up to this provided a welcome boost to awareness and consideration that fueled this spike.

This pulled through to a 46% uplift on the YTD revenue figure for July 2023 vs. the same period in 2022. We also saw a significant jump in our average RFP value. The total value of proposals issued in Q2 2023 was an unbelievable 1,129% higher than Q2 2022. Bigger agencies came with bigger projects.

THE AFTERMATH. Even now we’re still getting visits to the Beige website. More modest levels than the heady days of April, May and June ‘23 when the site was viral, but enough to be confident that the campaign delivered what we set out to create: Make people take notice, talk about us, and bring to life everything we stand against, all on a minimal budget. Perhaps most importantly, the Beige campaign landed our core ethos The biggest proof of the concept that sits at the heart of Treacle’s proposition; screwing the status quo. The best advert there is, surely.

We did that thing we hear agencies tell us they find near-impossible. We ate our own dog food. We took a creative risk and shot for the exciting eleven as opposed to rolling out a LinkedIn campaign that recycles tactics used the world over. Beige was a risk. But it turned heads. And it appears to have paid off (smug face).

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