Advertising Brand

For B2B brands, the only safe path is to embrace a bigger bet

By Kalle Hellzén | CCO

December 8, 2021 | 4 min read

Kalle Hellzén, chief creative officer at 180 Amsterdam, discusses the importance of B2B marketers thinking big and and trying to add value to the cultural conversation.

B2B brands do B2B advertising. That’s the consensus anyway. Big, dull posters in airports. Where words like ‘reimagine,’ ‘transform’ and ‘together’ are coupled with other words like ‘science’ and ‘farming.’ But in this blandscape there are occasionally a few sprouts of hope and imagination.

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DHL teamed up with those behind the production of the new James Bond film

It might be IBM’s highly regarded campaigns for the last 20 years, Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits for Volvo’s trucks, or Lockheed Martin’s incredible ‘Field Trip to Mars.’

More recently brands such as Spotify, with its ‘Wrapped for Advertisers,’ are using successful marketing behaviors from DTC comms to create B2B work that feels distinctive and fresh.

Any of these successes come down to one simple thing: a brand recognizing that the only safe path is to place a bigger bet and go at it full force.

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Bigger bets are about retaining your distinctiveness and choosing to stand out, to be famous for something both recognizable and remarkable. To add value to a cultural conversation rather than simply re-hashing what’s already being said.

And when creating work that focuses on a cultural touchpoint, what becomes vital is that you’ve got to live, breathe and love what you’re doing. You need to grab hold of the moment and go beyond what people have already seen to create something they didn’t even know they were missing.

It’s an attitude that we have been lucky enough to channel through our latest work for DHL, championing the brand’s logistics partnership with the much-awaited release of the newest James Bond film No Time To Die. It’s a remarkable campaign that not only captures the essence of what DHL actually does, but at the same time taps into an important cultural moment.

With this campaign, DHL weren’t up against other B2B brands but were competing instead in the entertainment space itself, alongside the more consumer-facing Bond partner brands. The reflex here, for many B2B brands, would have been to ‘know their place.’ Instead, DHL bet big and went at it full force.

So we called in the team that had already chased cars and angles and shoot outs; the stunt drivers, the camera crew and the DoP from the No Time to Die production itself. Those who had an innate knowledge of both the cultural icon we were working with, but more specifically what the fans were looking for.

The finished piece feels more like the Bond scene that was never made than a commercial for a typical B2B brand. And with fans responding to it with comments including “the ad is as good as the film,” DHL’s big bet certainly paid off.

Kalle Hellzen is chief creative officer at 180 Amsterdam.

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