Intuit QuickBooks Gets Behind Entrepreneurs in First Ads From TBWA\Chiat\Day

Supporting small businesses, even in producing the campaign

If your New Year’s resolutions include going into business for yourself, Intuit QuickBooks has your back.

In “Backing You,” its first campaign from newly hired agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, the business software brand defines its growing role in the small-business world—and explains how it empowers self-employed folks across diverse industries.

“From the moment we pitched for the business [in the fall], it dawned on us that our team knew so many people who worked for themselves,” agency creative director Kirsten Rutherford tells Adweek. “While they all may seem like isolated small businesses, the fact that there are so many of them, almost a movement, always impressed us. It was almost like a ‘butterfly effect.’ Each business contributed in their own way and supported all the other businesses around them. When we saw the actual data that the combined number of independent workers is larger than the combined work force of the Fortune 500, we knew we were onto something big.”

The work broke on Christmas Day, in a nod to the fact that many small-business owners can’t take holidays off.

“We describe the target as ‘people who work for themselves,’ including self-employed individuals, small-business owners, freelancers, gig economy workers, contractors and side-hustlers” such as folks selling stuff on Etsy or driving for Lyft, Rutherford says. “While their professions are quite diverse, their challenges and emotional realities are really quite similar.”

Along with the anthem video above, the campaign features ads that focus on the tenacity and drive of real QuickBooks customers. These spots strive for authenticity, putting the long hours and self-sacrifice in the spotlight.

For example, in the clip below, we learn that for the owner of startup ASAP Construction Services, “this building season has been Jimmy’s longest. He survived record rain and a supplier that went belly-up.”

Next, we meet a young pottery maker who, quite literally, “built her business with her own two hands. Each unique piece comes to life in the same way—a messy, sloppy, splattery way.”

“One of our steadfast commitments in this campaign was to reflect the true reality—highs and lows—of working for yourself,” Rutherford says. “We immediately gravitated to real and relatable job types rather than the quirky, made-up or overly aspirational jobs you usually see depicted in this category.”

Each ad does a fine job of contrasting the hardscrabble daily grind of small-business owners with QuickBooks benefits like receipt tracking, invoice management and mileage tracking.

Throughout the production process, the team took pains to stay true to the campaign’s spirit by employing mainly small businesses and independent vendors to do the work. These ranged from security crews and set dressers to caterers and lighting pros. The team even stayed at boutique hotels while filming on location.

Emerging artist Willa Amai, who is just 13 years old, provides a stripped-down cover of Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Stronger, Faster” for the soundtrack. Her intense, no-frills delivery—completely unlike the sleek, robo-tech original—seems particularly in tune with the gritty visuals.

Check out some hard-workin’ digital and out-of-home elements below:

Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day
President: Erin Riley
Chief Creative Officer: Renato Fernandez
Creative Director: Kirsten Rutherford
Creative Director: Ben Beazley
Sr. Copywriter: Suzanne Sherwood
Sr. Art Director: Eron Broughton
Sr. Copywriter: Liz Cartwright
Sr. Art Director: Stephen Lum
Copywriter: Stew Tribe
Art Director: Dan Hales
Director of Production: Brian O’ Rourke
Executive Producer: Kat Urban
Producer: Marty Church
Global Brand Leader: Cyril Bedat
Brand Director: Matt Theisen
Brand Manager: Jillian Rudman
Assistant Brand Manager: Alix Johnson
Group Planning Director: John Hickman
Sr. Planner: Samira Shahabuddin
Sr. Digital Strategist: Emilie Arrive
Director of Design: Mark Sloan
Director of Studio Production: Brian Dougherty
Flash Designer: Kevin Reid
Designer: Billie Heitzman
Designer: James Thompson
Studio Artist: Riki Komachi
Sr. Project Manager: Josh Levine
Executive Print Producer: Hashi Clark
Jr. Digital Producer: Mia Kuhn
Sr. Business Affairs Manager: Jennifer Anaya
Director of Traffic Operations: Dessiah Maxwell
Magdalena Wosinska: Photographer
Deena Fayette: Senior Art Producer
Production Agency: Interrogate
Director: Michael Marantz
Music Production: We Are Hear
Vocalist: Willa Amai
Editorial: Spot Welders
Color / Finish / VFX: Shipping + Handling
Sound Design / Mix: Beacon Street Studio

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.