The General and Airheads Choose Chicago’s Highdive as Agency of Record

The boutique shop has also been tasked with introducing Fruit-tella, a European candy brand, to the U.S.

Image of Airheads and The General ads
Airheads and The General have both selected Highdive as agency of record. Airheads, The General
Headshot of Minda Smiley

Chicago-based agency Highdive is rounding out 2020 with a few wins under its belt.

The shop, founded in 2016 by former DDB creatives Mark Gross and Chad Broude, has been named agency of record for auto insurance company The General. It’s also been selected as creative agency of record by Airheads, a candy brand owned by confectionery company Perfetti Van Melle.  

According to Highdive, which was named Adweek’s Fastest Growing Agency in 2020, The General most recently worked with creative agency Art Machine, while Airheads collaborated with Huge.

In addition to handling creative for Airheads, Highdive is helping Perfetti Van Melle launch Fruit-tella, a European candy brand that recently made its U.S. debut. The agency started rolling out Fruit-tella’s first U.S. campaign, “Nature Wants Its Candy Back,” on social media this month.

Highdive will be tasked with giving The General a “brand refresh,” which will involve a strategic repositioning of the brand and a new campaign that spans television, social and digital channels. Its first work for The General is scheduled to come out next year.

The agency did not say if it will continue to use the brand’s longtime mascot in the The General’s advertising. Highdive intends to “thoroughly explore various ways to leverage The General’s core brand equities” moving forward, according to an agency spokesperson.

“We were immediately drawn to The General’s inspiring vision for their brand refresh,” Gross, who serves as co-chief creative officer of Highdive, said in a statement. “The leadership team has taken a bold approach to the business and the marketing, and they have a deep desire to disrupt the category creatively. The partnership represents a phenomenal opportunity to leverage the brand’s equity and awareness while also closing the gap between brand perceptions and the brand’s reality.”

One of The General’s recent campaigns starred Snoop Dogg. In 2016, the brand hired Shaquille O’Neal as its first “real-life” ambassador. He’s appeared in a number of its ads since then.

Highdive employs more than 30 people on a full-time basis, but taps into a larger network of freelance talent when needed. Earlier this year, it created Super Bowl ads for Jeep and Rocket Mortgage. Its founders worked with brands including Skittles, Bud Light and Capital One while at DDB. In 2016, they worked on Skittles’ 2016 Super Bowl commercial starring Steven Tyler.

Elicia Azali, The General’s chief revenue officer said in a statement that the company was looking for an agency partner with “experience in repositioning brands, a strong creative track record and a commitment to diversity.”

“We want our brand to better reflect who we are as a company and the customers we serve,” she said. “We are thrilled to partner with Highdive to achieve that goal.”

Rachel Chambers, Perfetti Van Melle’s vice president of marketing, said in a statement that Highdive’s “efficient, creative and dynamic agency model” was attractive “right off the bat.” Broude, who serves as Highdive’s co-chief creative officer alongside Gross, said the agency is “thrilled to be back in confectionery with Perfetti Van Melle’s iconic brands.”

The General spent approximately $153 million on media last year, according to figures from Kantar, which doesn’t track spending on social channels. Perfetti Van Melle spent roughly $100,000.

@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.