SpecialGuest Provides Brands a Cast of Creative Directors to Choose From

Agency's clients include Google, Rag & Bone and YouTube

Tazri Afrin, account director, and Aaron Duffy, co-founder. SpecialGuest

SpecialGuest spun off from sibling company 1stAveMachine as a distinct, separate offering over four years ago, with co-founder Aaron Duffy providing creative direction to clients. Since then, SpecialGuest has worked with brands including Google, Spotify, Squarespace and YouTube.

SpecialGuest has branched out to offer the approach across a range of creative directors. Duffy likened the model to the way production companies provide a roster of directors so agencies can choose one to work with on a project.

SpecialGuest worked with Rag & Bone and 1stAveMachine to create a film starring Kate Mara and Ansel Elgort, featuring music by Thom Yorke.

Current projects include campaigns for a brand in the tourism space and an undisclosed celebrity brand campaign. The agency is working on an upcoming Fashion Week project for Rag & Bone, following the success of last year’s Why Can’t We Get Along film. SpecialGuest also continues to work with McKinsey after launching its first brand film last year, as well as Qualcomm, its first client.

Creatives benefit from the freedom of the model as well as clients, only working on projects they are passionate about.

“Our clients often come to us for the more experimental, unexpected output. That is a good thing for us. It helps us be creative every day,” Duffy explained.

To celebrate the top three artists on Spotify's RapCaviar playlist, SpecialGuest and digital fabrication studio Neoset Designs immortalized them with life-size sculptures.
SpecialGuest was among the agencies promoting YouTube's six-second film format to advertisers, curating nearly 20 artists and directors.
This story first appeared in the Jan. 14, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.