Are Client Relationships Like a Scuba Diver and an Astronaut Trying to Live Together?

Zendesk's new ads says so

Zendesk today is launching a digital ads campaign at South by Southwest Interative in Austin, Texas, in effort to change the way potential clients see its brand.  

"We started out as a customer support company, but over time we've grown beyond that," explained Ryan Donahue, vp of global design at Zendesk. "We have a powerful chat product; we have a demanding new data product. So people are coming to us for more than just customer support needs. And we really needed the brand to reflect this new growth."

Therefore, Donahue and his team created three 15-second spots that they will be airing on digital screens at its SXSW party this afternoon. In the coming weeks, the commercials will appear on Gawker, thanks to a big ad buy on the news site, and the promos will well get a paid push on social channels like Facebook and YouTube as well. Working with media agency Noble People, the campaign, dubbed Relationships Are Complicated, targets decision-makers at companies large and small in a quirky in a quirky fashion.

The creative features one man in a scuba diving outfit and another in spaceman gear. The fictional odd couple—which is appearing at Zendesk's party—represents a metaphor for business-to-business customer relationships, Donahue said.

"They both come from different worlds," he said, "but they both require some of the same things like empathy, understanding and, of course, oxygen."

Donahue added that his company believes in creative that could appear in any channel—whether consumer-facing or B2B. The new work was developed in-house by nine-year-old Zendesk's 40-person creative team, which includes writers, videographers and researchers.

"It's like an internal agency," Donahue commented.

And why is SXSW a good event to roll out this online campaign?

"We have this thesis that the life-hacker crowd—people who are interested in content about how to do things more efficiently—is a great audience for our solution and the future of customer relationships," Donahue answered. "And there's a lot of people from the marketing and advertising world there that we can get out in front of."