July 30, 2017

"Disruptive" has become a cliché in the ad world, which is why Ryan Kutscher and Paul Sutton, partners of Circus Maximus, prefer to frame their work with more, well, creativity.

"We're in the science of mischief-making for the betterment of business and brands," said Kutscher, a longtime creative who previously served as J. Walter Thompson's chief creative officer in New York. He and Sutton met in 2004 when they worked at Crispin Porter & Bogusky. Sutton, who oversees production and operations for the agency, joined Circus Maximus earlier this year.

The partners divide the departments into three categories: wisdom (analytics), courage (production) and mischief (creative). "We think those are the broader ideas that, when they come together in the perfect ratios, lead to success," Kutscher said.

Their work for Justworks, a professional employment organization, was built around the idea of working fearlessly. Around Halloween, the agency created subway ads for the company spoofing old-timey horror movie posters, with titles like "Bride of Paperwork 2: Married to My Job."

That movie title is an apt description of the partners' work-life balance -- or rather, the lack of it. With few employees and major clients like Angry Orchard, things are busy. "We have a perverse love of being overworked," Kutscher said. "But we don't have family, so it's OK."