A Menacing Black Hole Embodies Marketers’ Greatest Fears in the Latest MailChimp Campaign

Droga5 delves into the product

Does this look like your 'What's my Instagram ROI?' face? MailChimp
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

You’ve heard of MailChimp. And if you’ve followed the ad industry or listened to any podcasts over the past year-plus, you know what it isn’t: a shrimp, a blimp, a limp, or any other adorably rhyming object.

But what does the company sell, exactly?

According to the latest campaign from creative agency of record Droga5, the answer is simple: certainty.

More specifically, MailChimp promises to help reduce what its own consumers have called “the black hole of uncertainty” that shadows every decision they make when marketing their own businesses. In a series of spots that debuted today, the role of that bottomless void is played by a very literal black hole that pulses and expands, threatening to engulf the wary small business owner who only wanted to find more customers on Instagram!

“There are lots of unknowns; you’re not sure if you’re doing the right thing,” said Droga5 executive creative director Neil Heymann in explaining the challenges faced by MailChimp customers. They are, overwhelmingly, small business owners who lack the budgets to hire in-house marketers—and in repeated surveys they say the very act of organizing and automating a marketing campaign can feel like “throwing money into a black hole.”

Sound familiar?

“We now have the task of talking in some detail about what MailChimp products do,” Heymann added, describing the colorful campaigns that launched in January as “more about saying hello.”

All four new spots play on the same theme.

No previous MailChimp promos have touched on measuring one’s Instagram spend. “We wanted to say, as simply as possible, that MailChimp is more than just an email service,” Heymann noted.

Then there’s the hole itself, which begins to take on a certain personality as the series progresses.

That was almost frightening. Heymann said, “What good story doesn’t have some conflict or enemy? In this case, [that enemy is] nothingness itself … anything that does not provide clarity.”

This digital-only campaign will be carefully targeted toward the sort of people who use MailChimp.

Heymann noted that the work aims to illustrate the “emotional rollercoaster” experienced by those using the products while also reflecting MailChimp’s desire to express strong opinions without taking itself too seriously.

“We want to continue to put out a brand with a personality in what can be a very dry category,” he said.


Client: MailChimp
Agency: Droga5
Campaign: “MailChimp vs. The Black Hole”

Chief Marketing Officer: Tom Klein
VP of Marketing: Sean Cook
Sr Director of Brand Marketing: Mark DiCristina
Sr Director of Design: Todd Dominey
Director of Marketing Operations: Amy Sturgill
Senior Marketing Manager: Palmer Houchins

Creative Chairman: David Droga
Chief Creative Officer: Ted Royer
Executive Creative Director: Neil Heymann
Group Creative Director: Don Shelford
Senior Copywriter: Julie Matheny
Design Director: Devin Croda
Senior Designer: Nate Moore
Junior UX Designer: James Garvey
Chief Creation Officer: Sally-Ann Dale
Co-Directors of Film Production: Jesse Brihn, Bryan Litman
Associate Director of Film Production: Ruben Mercadal
Associate Producers, Film: Sasha Pace, Isabella Lebovitz
Business Affairs Manager: Denise Klapp
Director of Interactive Production: Niklas Lindstrom
Associate Director of Interactive Production: Justin Durazzo
Senior Producer, Interactive Media: Madison Goldberg
Producer, Interactive: Grace Wang
Director of Art Production: Cliff Lewis
Director of Print Services: Rob Lugo
Retoucher: Cayla Zahoran
Graphics Studio Managers: Michelle Leedy, Virginia Vargas
Production Artist: Emmanuel Perez
Quality Control Specialist: Susanne Johansson
Global Chief Strategy Officer: Jonny Bauer
Co-Head of Strategy: Colm Murphy
Strategy Director: Katie Coane
Head of Communications Strategy: Colleen Leddy
Communications Strategy Director: Taylor Hines
Chief Intelligence Officer: Amy Avery
Data Strategist: Kaveri Gautam
Executive Group Director: Julian Cheevers
Account Director: Pat Rowley
Account Supervisor: Josh Freeland
Account Manager: Camille Cheeks-Lomax
Performance Group Director: Paul Eckelmann
Project Manager: Rayna Lucier
Counsel: Sarah Fox
Associate Counsel: Zachary Werner

Media Agency: PHD
Group Account Director: Ji Kim
Marketing Science Director: Phil D’Addio
Associate Strategy Director: Alex Arcuri
Digital Associate Director: Tina Qu
Digital Analyst: Sachin Manghnani
Associate Search Director: David Weiss

Production Company: Ruffian
Director: Greg Barth
DOP: Andrij Parekh
Executive Producer: David Richards
Producer: Erin Wile
Production Company: Second Child
Line Producer: Gabrielle Nicoletti
Photographer: Paul McGeiver

Editorial: Wax
Editor: Paul Watts
Executive Producer: Toni Lipari
Producer: Annabelle Cuthbert
Post Production: MPC
Executive Producer: Camila De Biaggi
Telecine: Richard Fearon
VFX: Marcus Wood
Producer: Elissa Norman
Sound Design: Factory (Anthony Moore, Neil Johnson)
Sound Mix: Sonic Union (David Papa)

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.