The World’s Smallest Ad Campaign Is Coming to the Kentucky Derby

Johannes Leonardo shrinks it up for MassMutual

The charmingly diminutive approach takes inspiration from the one item more ubiquitous at the event than oversized hats and mint juleps: binoculars. MassMutual
Headshot of Erik Oster

Johannes Leonardo thinks small in its Kentucky Derby ad for MassMutual. Really small.

The agency created the world’s smallest OOH campaign for the brand, entitled “Small Acts.” MassMutual is taking over Churchill Downs with a series of 20 miniatures created by Johannes Leonardo during The Oaks (the marquee race preceding the Kentucky Derby) on Friday and the during the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

The miniatures will be placed around key areas of the grounds, such as roof beams and the infield. Naturally, the approach is tied to the message of the campaign.

“As a leading life insurance brand, we are always considering new ways to interact with our consumers and touch their lives with powerful brand ideas. With this in mind, our partner Johannes Leonardo came up with an engaging activation campaign to illustrate our belief that small acts of mutuality can make a big difference for your financial future,” MassMutual head of brand and advertising Jennifer Halloran explained.

She added that the brand wanted to “surprise and delight” Derby-goers in a way that pays homage to the history of the event as MassMutual celebrates its second year as a Kentucky Derby partner.

The charmingly diminutive approach takes inspiration from the one item more ubiquitous at the event than oversized hats and mint juleps: the binoculars attendees use to get a closer look at the action on the track.

Johannes Leonardo ran with the insight, attempting to address the question, “How could we use this opportunity to get them to take a closer look at their finances?” said Johannes Leonardo group creative director Samira Ansari.

“Knowing that only 25% of Americans have a financial plan, we wanted to highlight that a small financial contribution today, can make a big difference in the future by leveraging a captive audience at The Derby,” she continued. “We are thrilled to see the activation come to life this weekend as part of a bigger brand partnership between The Derby and MassMutual.”

Client: MassMutual
Head of Brand and Advertising: Jennifer Halloran
Head of Brand Activation and Engagement: Kristin Lane
Advertising Director: Christa Perry
Marketing Consultant: Kaitlyn Swierzewsky

Agency: Johannes Leonardo
Chief Creative Officer: Jan Jacobs
Chief Creative Officer: Leo Premutico
Group Creative Director: Samira Ansari
Creative Director: Kevin Watkins
Creative Director: Hope Nardini
Copywriter: Talia Berniker
Art Director: Emily Haughbro
Copywriter: Phoebe Talbot
Art Director: Kimberly Scott
Creative Intern: Dohee Kim
Creative Intern: Haeun Kim
Associate Design Director: Esther Park
Designer: Christina Hillman
Director of Creative Services: Michelle Moscone
Project Manager: John Thomas Shults
Head of Integrated Production: Dana May
Executive Producer: Darbi Fretwell
Senior Activation Producer: Maria Elena Lopez Frank
Producer: Phil Guignon
Head of Accounts: Emily Wilcox
Account Director: Lisa Paravano
Account Supervisor: Lily Shelmerdine
Account Executive: Joel Bebasa
Head of Strategy: Mark Aronson
Associate Strategy Director: Johnny Roelofs
Head of Communications Strategy: Meg Piro
Communications Planner: Casey Donahue
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Kacey Kelley
Business Affairs Manager: Pamala Billman

Activation Production Company:TH Productions
Founder/CEO: Tristan Brennan
Account Supervisor: Leigh Anne Penfield
Executive Producer: Abby Rosenthal
Senior Producer: Niamh Allen
Associate Producer: Jennifer Webb
Operations Director: Danielle Steger

Animation House: Hieronymous

Don't miss the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience Nov. 16-19. Gain insights from leading sports figures on how they navigated a year of upsets and transformation and what's in store for the coming year. Register

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.