#BostonSpotted: A Chat with Branding Agency Small Army

Small-ArmyGet to know Small Army and how they contribute to the hustle of the Hub.

Agency Spotter is all about helping marketers and agencies get to know each other. Discover the talent that makes Boston’s Small Army more than your typical ad agency. Professional storytellers is a better description.

Location: On the edge of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood
Core Service: Branding
Additional Services: Social Media, Web, Graphic/Communication, Media

How did Small Army get its start in Boston?

It was 2002, the tech bubble had just burst and agencies were dropping like flies. While many (including our wives) thought we were crazy, we thought it would be a good time to start an agency – one focused on developing strong relationships with our clients – and helping them do the same with theirs.

How would you describe Small Army in three words?

Caring. Passionate. Innovative.Small Army

What’s scarce in the advertising world today?

Authenticity. Although this has become quite a buzzword in the industry,
most advertising still amounts to creative bragging about a brand’s productSmall Army or service. Reality is that most people don’t believe claims made in advertising. And, in today’s world of social media, consumers can get the truth from friends and other trusted sources at the touch of a screen.

Brands need to speak from their heart. They need to discover their souls and share their beliefs – not just in advertising, but everywhere their story is being told. That is how you build relationships will people. And once you have a relationship with someone, they listen to you, trust you, respond to you, introduce you to their friends and help you. That is what creates great businesses.

Tell us one of your success stories.

At Small Army, we begin every engagement by helping our client discover the “moral of their story” – the one core belief that they share with their audience, and explains why they do what they do. We do this for clients like Reebok, GE, SolidWorks, Blue Hills Bank and many others. But, perhaps the client we are most proud of is the one we created on our own. After losing our co-founder to cancer in 2007, we created a non-profit and cancer fundraiser called Be Bold, Be Bald!

Founded on the core belief (moral of the story) that “true strength pushes vanity aside,” we asked people around the country to “go bald” by wearing a bald cap (or shaving their head) to honor those who bravely battle cancer. The annual event takes place on the third Friday of every October and, in only five years, has raised approximately $750,000 for more than 40 cancer charities across the US, with thousands of participants going bald around the world every year. There is nothing more rewarding than a phone call, letter or email from someone telling us how much we have impacted their life.

How does Small Army give back to the Boston community?

Small ArmyEvery month, Small Army selects a non-profit to participate in a half-day session, where we help them discover the moral of their story at no charge. Recipients of these sessions include Andover Youth Services, The BASE, The Good Life Youth Foundation, Monkey Helpers and MA OCD Foundation. We also work with many other Boston non-profits such as Nurtury (formerly Associated Early Care and Education) and Urban Edge (a CDC in Roxbury). And we’re actively involved in The Boston Ad Club, MITX and The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Got a favorite New England summer pastime?

The annual Small Army Summer kick-ball game has become an agency tradition. Meetings in our outdoor patio space lets us enjoy New England weather even during the work week. And agency-wide food-truck lunches by the reflecting pool are a great way to celebrate completed time sheets.

Thanks for chatting with us, Small Army! You can also watch co-founder Jeff Freedman’s powerful presentation from TEDxBeaconStreet.

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Claire Wallace