Helix Picks Eleven to Help Introduce Consumers to the Future of DNA Sequencing

Indie agency wins creative, strategic review

The company looks to lead a growing industry based on 'genomics,' which uses individual DNA profiles to create personalized products and experiences.

The future is in your genes.

Bay Area startup Helix believes that individual DNA genomes hold the key to mastering the digital economy, and many investors agree. The company, which launched last fall as a spinoff of genetic research giant Illumina on the strength of $100 million in private funding, wants to help all sorts of companies sell their products by using genetics as the ultimate targeting tool.

Now, Helix has chosen Eleven as its agency of record to help bring that message to the public after a review that included 10 agencies in the RFP phase and three in the final round. The independent San Francisco shop will lead all branding and national advertising efforts for the company moving forward.

“We truly believe that the next great discovery is you—the personal genetic story you have within. And we want to empower every person to tap into this knowledge and improve his or her life through DNA,” said Helix CEO Robin Thurston in a statement. “That’s why we’re building a platform for responsible DNA products, furthering the understanding of DNA for people’s everyday lives.”

Helix has developed two products: One is a service that can map your personal DNA genome—and its billions of individual points—in a matter of weeks, and the other is a platform that uses that profile to help consumers manage different aspects of their lives, allowing brands to create and market products tailored to a person’s very specific needs.

Think of it as an app store driven by the genetic markers that make you unique among the planet’s 7.4 billion people.

Regarding his agency’s newest client, Eleven CEO Courtney Buechert said, “The Helix protocol is to map my entire genome … so I only have to be tested once. After sequencing for this data set, they will become a marketplace for specific providers.”

Examples of such providers range from weight loss companies targeting individuals based on their genetic predispositions to a business that uses genes to recommend wines. The latter company already exists, and Buechert predicts that the “biotech boom” led by companies like Helix, 23andMe and Ancestry.com will soon be “equal to or greater than consumer tech.” One key difference between Helix and the latter businesses is that it doesn’t simply test for genealogy; its technology can theoretically measure one’s propensity for inherited illnesses or help athletes better learn how to maximize their performance potential.

Eleven’s first work for the brand, which should debut later this year, will be aimed at general market consumers rather than business-to-business audiences. The nature and scope of the work has not yet been determined, though Buechert said that “content will be key” and that Eleven’s ability to provide both creative and analytical services played a key role in the win.

“Eleven has experience launching brands that build lasting and meaningful relationships with customers, and that aligns with our values at Helix,” said Thurston in explaining his company’s choice. “They have a track record of bringing warmth and humanity to technology and brand thinking that goes beyond advertising, and can help guide how we think and talk about ourselves internally and with partners. We look forward to working with them on our story.”

Eleven’s current roster includes Oakley, Dignity Health, Visa and its oldest client, Apple.

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