The brand identity we created for Aura, a more human cuyber security firm, was recently featured in The Drum. Read the article here if you missed it:

Award-winning branding and advertising agency Circus Maximus has created a distinctly human brand identity for tech company Aura, a digital-security brand that recently launched. Aura’s offering pairs intelligent-scanning antivirus software with an advanced data-enabled technology that uses artificial intelligence to monitor, manage and protect sensitive information.

Aura is a one-stop shop of integrated products that provides enterprise-grade security solutions. Intrusta and Identity Guard’s cybersecurity and identity-theft products give consumers a halo of protection, so they can enjoy the benefits of technology without fear. Aura is a combined business entity formed by iSubscribed and Intersections Incwith partners WndrCo and General Catalyst.

While most cyber-security brands favor a dark, scary vision and a high-tech Matrixmessage, Aura is treating people like...people. The company’s mission is to pioneer digital freedom for all and enable people to enjoy the benefits of technology simply and without fear. Aura’s brand principles include “caring,” “human,” “candid” and “vigilant.”

Circus Maximus created the naming, branding, website, and other materials—from the typography, color palette, logos, imagery and other assets detailed in the brand style guide to the corporate website where consumers can view Aura’s security services—to complement the brand’s goal of “simplifying digital security for our modern lives.”

The color scheme (Sunrise, Nightshade, Peach and Gradient) is warm, natural and accessible with crisp typefaces that are professional yet friendly. The website’s pages are airy—there’s plenty of white space and the language isn’t too lofty. Images show happy, secure and diverse families enjoying the digital world and Aura officemates working to protect consumers from the threat of cyber-security breaches.

Aura uses adaptive technology, so its easy-to-use interface learns from the user to continually improve security and the experience. Its near real-time alerts inform customers, so they can act quickly if their personal information is breached.

Circus Maximus also created the tagline for Aura: “Your Digital Halo.”

“We know that finding and articulating a brand’s empathy is the key to their consumer appeal, and long-term success,” said Ryan Kutscher, Circus Maximus founder and chief creative officer. “Aura represents how we implement that process in a category that falls into the trapping of fear tactics all too easily. We’re excited for the wonderful team at Aura as they launch this unique brand.”

Aura provides a host of personal-identity protection offerings, including monthly credit scores and annual credit reports with information from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, social media insights, dark web monitoring, bank account takeover alerts, cyberbullying alerts and intelligent antivirus scanning.

“Technology has become an ever-increasing presence in our lives,” said Hari Ravichandran, CEO and founder of Aura. “Aura is the digital halo that empowers people with tools, data, notifications, knowledge and relentless customer service to help them use their technology and devices freely.”

Our Mack Weldon campaign 'Humbly Yours' illustrates the type of advice the clothing brand might offer men aged 30-plus and was featured in the Little Black Book. Read the article here if you missed it:

Advertising agency Circus Maximus has launched 'Humbly Yours,' a refreshing out-of-home advertising campaign for new client Mack Weldon, a men’s basics brand that combines thoughtful design, premium fabrics and simple shopping.

'Humbly Yours' will run throughout June in New York’s subway cars and transit units. Circus Maximus’ campaign stands apart from most male activewear advertising, which tends to be flashy and egocentric. This is the clothing brand’s first-ever OOH work. Circus Maximus won the assignment in February.

“We find ourselves living in this hot-take, generation ME, no-such-thing-as-bad publicity world where being obnoxious is all good as long as you get noticed,” explained Ryan Kutscher, chief creative officer at Circus Maximus. “Mack Weldon is all about getting back to basics — the strong silent type who finds virtue in doing a job right for the sake of doing it right and not attracting undue attention.”

The panels pair simple quotes with wardrobe staples to illustrate the type of advice Mack Weldon might offer men age 30-plus in this era of egomania and selfie-inflated worth. Copy lines include 'You don’t need more basics. Maybe just better basics' (for the Ace Collection), 'Proof that you can be strong and soft at the same time' (polo shirts) and 'We call them essentials, basics, fundamentals. We’ll leave the superlatives to our customers' (boxer shorts).

'It’s not bragging if you can back it up,' reads the copy in one key campaign component, which features a closeup of an unidentified basketball player wearing a pair Airknit Boxer Briefs. 'But it’s not making you any friends either.' It conveys the importance of showing over bragging — and how performance trumps smack talk. As with all ads, the minimalist message links to the Mack Weldon website and carries the 'Humbly, Mack Weldon' tagline.

Mack Weldon is a menswear lifestyle brand that launched in 2011 with a collection of essentials 'designed by you and reinvented by us.' The e-commerce-based brand sells staples such as boxers, T-shirts, socks and sweats designed with the latest comfort- and performance-enhancing technologies.

The Drum magazine's Creative Director's Choice is a chance for creative directors to highlight some work outside their own that's making a difference. In a recent feature, Ryan takes a shine to Wolf & Shepherd, a company who's social media pixel game is totally on point. Read the article here if you missed it:

I like shoes, I always have. When I was a kid, I inherited a bunch of unique items from my grandfather, one of which was a pair of size 11 elephant skin oxfords. He must have bought them in the 50s, likely in a country where that kind of thing was not yet frowned upon. I remember sporting them to a shoe store, where the salesmen gathered around, staring in awe and wondering how this 11-year-old kid had a pair of handmade elephant skin oxfords. Unfortunately, I hit puberty and grew out of the oxfords, but not my love of shoes.

These days my Instagram feed is 30% dogs, 20% Jiu Jitsu moves and 50% men’s dress shoes. Their pixel game is on point, and none more so than Wolf & Shepherd. I first noticed the company because their shoes looked interesting, and then realized their content had a more polished, professional look and feel than most grassroots Instagram brands. They were having fun with it.

In the digital world, it's easy to default to the basics of customer acquisition, but here was a brand putting in the legwork to tell a story. Walking the walk, not just ad targeting. My curiosity led me to discover that Wolf & Shepherd was founded by Justin Schneider, a footwear designer who cut his teeth at Adidas, Reebok, and New Balance. He also was a decathlete in college. He designed a ridiculous amount of technology, usually reserved for athletic shoes, into these dress shoes. To prove his claim that they're an obscenely comfortable dress shoe, they did the most interesting campaign I've seen in, or out of, the category lately, and proved their durability by competing with them in the Atlanta Half Marathon. They won, setting a world record for marathon time in dress shoes, and like good marketers, they've been exploiting the content in their marketing ever since. It's a little old school, a little new school, and totally fun advertising. (Also, if they're reading this, I'm a size 12.)

Ryan, our Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, learned valuable lessions while growing Circus Maximus. Recently, he was asked to share his insights with AdAge. Here's the article in case you missed it:

I had the good fortune of starting my career at an irresponsibly creative agency that insulated people like me from the financial practicalities of running a business (our own as well as our clients'). We were barely even an agency, really. We were a group of professional "imaginators" living in a creative reality distortion field. It was fantastic.

Our job was to play "What if?" In fact, the only time you got in trouble was by allowing practical thinking to invade your brainstorming. They fired a guy for asking, "Can we afford this?" I heard he's working for WPP now. That attitude managed to work pretty successfully for a while, because the agency grew and grew. But, like all good things, one day it came to an end.

Later I found myself at an agency that was on the opposite end of the fun spectrum, where basically anything resembling a creative thought was, by default, out of the question and out of the budget. So, when I started Circus Maximus in 2013 I didn't have a clear, consistent view of how a business that sells creative thinking actually operated, like, you know, financially.

After founding the agency, I soon began to learn, and quite quickly at that. I have a belief now that there are only two kinds of lessons in life: painful or expensive. (Sometimes if you're unlucky, you experience both.) Fortunately, (and miraculously) I haven't made any mistakes that have been terminally foolish, but I've certainly contributed a business school education's worth of teachings into the "that was dumb"/expensive column.

Capitalism is important

I now know, it's called capitalism because when you have capital, you can compete, and when you don't it's an awful lot harder. Capital creates the appearance of success, which is terrific bait for actual success. Capital affords things like staff, and office space, laptops, bagels, coffee, toilet paper, Wi-Fi, a membership to Working Not Working, agency swag, you know: important stuff. I thought all of these things would come after the agency started making money. I was an idiot. In fact, you need capital to pay for all those things before you're actually able to convince people that you have what it takes to do the job they're paying you to do. It's backwards, y'all! You need to be a totally functional business before you can even think about being a totally functional business. By far the most important thing capital can buy you is time, to wait for luck to roll around. And luck will eventually roll around, but you have to float those stretches in between. And they can be long, and lonely.

Have a perverse work ethic

We began working with multiple startups, and if there's one thing startups have a lot of, it's opportunity. They also have hope and potential, and that's where the fun, enthusiasm, risk, and optimism lies. It's also where consequence, failure, and existential dread lives. Startups offer the outside chance of waking up a millionaire if things work out. So, we got to doing that, and were able to claw our way up the capitalist ladder bit by bit. We're still on that climb, but the process has yielded some other valuable lessons: you need a perverse work ethic, you have to develop the ability to manufacture optimism when all conditions call for the contrary, you need to find yourself some similarly ignorant fools to do it with, because you can't do it alone, and you need to cultivate a belief that no matter what comes your way, you'll be able to figure it out. Because that's the important stuff that capital can't buy.

In February 2018, we created the Stay Human campaign for Kimpton Hotels. We were really proud of the results and even prouder to see that our campaign laid the foundation for Kimpton's new guest room experience initiative which was recently featured in Adweek. Here's the article if you missed it:

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, a boutique hotel brand of IHG, today is rolling out a new initiative that will let guests book special rooms at many of its hotels and participate in unique experiences offered in each, all designed to let them enjoy deeper human experiences.

According to Kathleen Reidenbach, chief commercial officer of Kimpton, the concept for the rollout stems from the values and culture established by the brand’s founder, Bill Kimpton, in 1981 (it was acquired by IHG in 2014) She said it was important to Kimpton that the company’s values focus on humanity and “an environment where employees feel warm and welcome. Bill Kimpton prioritized personal growth and development.”

To that end, from September through November last year, in what it called the “Room 301” experiment, Kimpton set aside one room at its Everly Hotel in Los Angeles. Guests who chose to stay in the room were encouraged to engage with special amenities, such as the ability to paint directly on a wall and share a secret or confession. Guests were able to respond to questions on camera, contribute songs to a Spotify community playlist, and leave a message for the next guest in the room. Guests were also allowed to take photos with an instant camera to represent their mood, and asked which of the “seven deadly vices” they could best relate to.

Among the findings: Lust was chosen as the guests’ top vice, and most secret confessions involved personal relationships. Among the most popular messages left for succeeding guests in the room was to call their parents, and 42 percent of guests used the instant camera to shoot photos of others, while only 24 percent took a selfie.

Reidenbach said Kimpton had “no idea” before Room 301’s launch if it would be successful. She said the company found “an overwhelming level of interest” in the initiative among guests, for whom she said their Kimpton stay “jolted them out of everyday life and gave them an opportunity to think and connect with themselves.”

Thus, Kimpton decided to invite hotels in its system worldwide—it currently manages 66 hotels and 78 restaurants, bars and lounges across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and Greater China, with 27 properties in its development pipeline—to create their own individual “immersive and interactive hotel experiences,” which is being announced today on the brand’s “Stay Human Project” website.

Two of these experiences will be available for guests to try tonight, while more than 20 more will be introduced through the end of 2019; all can be booked starting today. Rates for these special rooms will start at $229 per night.

Among the new experiences will be the “Work It Room” at the Mason and Rook Hotel in Washington, D.C., which partnered with Vital Voices, a nonprofit focusing on female leadership, to share access to a library with feminist literature, a communal Spotify playlist they may add songs to; and a “power pose” photo area.

Guests in the room at the Aertson Hotel in Nashville will have access to a guitar, microphone and iPad loaded with music-composition software, while guestbook pages will resemble sheet music. And the Prohibition-themed guest room at the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco will feature 1920s-inspired food and drink, and an iPad photo booth that produces black-and-white photos, among other amenities.

The foundation for the guest room experiences initiative was laid in February 2018, when Circus Maximus created a new campaign for Kimpton that included a digital ad about how humans were its “secret ingredient to heartfelt hospitality.” The budget for this was $40,000. This campaign was followed by a $5,000 digital campaign—created by Allison+Partners and Kimpton— launched in September 2018 for the Everly initiative. The Stay Human Project being introduced today was created by Kimpton and will be promoted by $4,000 in digital advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Kimpton’s ultimate goal with the new initiative, Reidenbach said, is to appeal to a wide range of guests—including individuals, couples and families—and to differentiate its brand from its competitors, which include huge hotel companies like Marriott and Hilton, and independent boutique brands like Ace.

“We are in an incredibly crowded space, and this gives us the ability to talk about our point of view,” she said. “We are a brand with a soul. We know travel and life can be lonely, and we are passionately committing to creating real connections and building long-lasting relationships with our guests.”

NEW YORK, NY 10003


P: (212) 256-1624

NEW YORK, NY 10003


P: (212) 256-1624