HR People: Erich & Kallman and Gusto Have Your Back

By Erik Oster 

Erich & Kallman, the San Francisco agency launched by W+K, GS&P, TBWA and BFG vet Eric Kallman and former CP+B president Steve Erich this past spring, launched a new campaign for Gusto, a company that makes software for HR professionals.

The campaign features a series of spots starring comedic actress Kristen Schaal (30 Rock, Flight of the Conchords, Last Man on Earth and, most importantly, the voice of Louise Belcher on Bob’s Burgers). In each spot, Schaal takes on the role of an overworked HR director, taking on all kinds of tasks above and beyond the call of duty. The idea is that Gusto can help HR professionals organize their schedule around such disparate yet demanding list of demands.

“So Many Zoes,” for example, opens with an employee asking Schaals character, a Zoe, about her bonus. “Oh you’ll have to talk with Zoe in payroll about that,” she says, throwing on a pair of glasses and instructing the employee to sign a stack of documents. The employee then offers up questions about adding her spouse to her benefits package and also has a question about her office plant, for which Zoe transforms into her benefits and horticulture versions. The spot ends with the tagline, “For HR people who do everything, we give you one place to go. Do it with Gusto.”

Other spots deal with a rather unusual solution to a misplaced bathroom key, a company who prefers to communicate all sorts of milestones via personalized balloons and an employee who forgot the password to open up his timesheet.

The approach was based on real insights from HR professionals, as Gusto organized a focus group examining the day-to-day trails of hundreds of HR directors across multiple industries.

“As we listened to everything HR admins do for their office, we realized they are truly the CEOs at work–the ‘chief everything officers,'” Gusto co-founder and CEO Josh Reeves told Adweek. “The inspiration for the campaign was an HR person who juggles it all and does just about everything at the office, including watering the office plants and organizing birthday parties. You’ll see elements of our research reflected in these videos.”

Schaal is perfectly cast in the role, elevating it past expectations with a combination of believability and comedic charm.

“[Gusto] knew they wanted to do a campaign based around someone who is head of HR; we’d been kicking around a list of names, and Kristen was high on that list,” Kallman told Adweek. “She can solve problems and remain super likeable.”

“It was fun to write on this,” he added, “because if you work at smaller or mid-level agencies, this type of person exists at most of those companies. He or she does not only the expected payroll stuff but knows all the answers and does everything, really. There’s someone like Zoe at every company where I’ve ever worked.”

Client: Gusto
Agency: Erich & Kallman
Creative Director: Eric Kallman
Managing Director: Steve Erich
Head of Accounts: Kate Higgins
Producer: Jill Garrison
Production Company: Biscuit
Director: Clay Weiner
Director of Photography: Jon Peter
Production Designer: Kai Boydell
Executive Prodcuer: Holly Vega
Producer: Lisa Stockdale
Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Austyn Daines
Executive Producer: Helena Lee
Producer: Amanda Ornelas
Mix: Lime