Culture + context
+ creativity.

We founded BBL to help companies be part of shifts in culture rather than piggyback on them or chase trends like everyone else. We understand changes in behaviour, values and beliefs before they become obvious. That’s because we learn from people and their experiences to gain real insight into the cultural context of each shift; something that isn’t found in data, on trend sites or through traditional research. We call it Culture Mapping. As the name suggests, it helps us map culture, which leads to work that people remember because it’s entertaining, useful or solves a problem for them.

Join the network of people that help us with Culture Mapping.

Shift culture before it shifts you.

We want to shift culture in our industry, not pay lip service to change. So we used Culture Mapping to help us design our model.

How we did it  →

We talked to people inside the agency world but also beyond it.

We’ve all worked in network and independent agencies, so naturally we had ideas on what needed to change. But we also want to learn from people with different experiences and backgrounds than ours.

We consulted CMOs, agency presidents, journalists, photographers, innovation lawyers, tech giants, bankers, CFOs, executive producers, novelists, directors, entrepreneurs, meme-creators, and award-winning creatives and designers. Not only did it allow us to test, discount, and improve our thinking, but it gave us a more nuanced understanding of what our clients and our partners want.

We took what we learned and designed an agency model based on our Culture Map.

Several recurring topics emerged from the information we gathered. There were themes around inclusion, structure, working practices, business value and how advertising could resonate better with the mainstream. From there, we identified a number of shifts and started working out how our new agency could design a model around them.

From expert mindset

to learner mindset.

Shifting Culture  →

The world is changing so rapidly we can’t possibly be experts on everything.

Everyone does not behave, think and dream just like us. And while our gut instinct for shifts in culture is probably good, it can’t always be right, or be nuanced enough to make the work truly resonate. To create advertising that better understands the people it’s trying to reach, we need to learn from them rather than believe we know best. It’s this mentality that is at the heart of our Cultural Mapping process, our model and everything else we do at BBL.

From virtue-signaling

to taking action.

Shifting Culture  →

Advertising seems to love virtue-signaling almost as much as it used to love the idea of cultural fit. We prefer to act, rather than just talk.

We’re a new agency, so we can build it the way we want to. We want our co-workers to come from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, and from across the gender spectrum. We want eccentrics and mavericks who have been squeezed out of the industry. And we want people with transferable skills outside of the advertising world. Not only does diversity help us understand nuances within culture shifts but it also improves how we work with our clients everyday. Our value partly lies in having points of view that you might not have considered. And this happens far more often when you have people on your business whose backgrounds, interests and experiences compliment, but don’t mirror yours.

From working all the time

to life informing work.

Shifting Culture  →

How can we understand culture and turning points if all we do is work?

Even if we are working remotely, we still need to observe people, think about the world, binge trashy TV, watch good and bad movies, read books and gossip sites, hang out with our kids and partners, do things we regret, get accidentally drunk (occasionally), learn new things, and just generally enjoy the 82 or so years we get to live. We have all worked at “Be in on Sunday or don’t come back Monday” agencies and we’ve seen first-hand how working all the time leads to burn out and mental health issues. And the work suffers too. If we are working 24/7, then we are not working smart. We are here when you need us, but it is very important to us, and our business, that the people who work here have time to do more than just work here.

From overheads and oversight

to trust and autonomy.

Shifting Culture  →

Like many companies, we are remote first. But we’re also big on autonomy, and working smarter rather than longer.

We have a small office with a couple of meeting rooms and a boardroom, but for us, anything more is unnecessary overhead. Culture shifts are often global, and we’d rather invest in great talent wherever they happen to live and show how much we value them by paying them what they deserve. Working remotely and with autonomy also allows people to focus on their work without impromptu meetings, interruptions or being pulled off one thing to do another.

From legacy roles

to skill-based teams.

Shifting Culture  →

We have replaced legacy roles and departments with lean, flexible teams with specific skill-sets.

This makes it easier for us to run projects efficiently, ensure they achieve their business objectives, are culturally nuanced and creatively great. It means there will always be someone on the team who deeply understands your business and the cultural shifts that affect it. There will always be someone to keep you informed and keep everyone else on the project organized. There will always be at least two people with complementary skills who think deeply about a problem and come up with solutions. And there will always be at least one partner involved from start to finish.

From layers and hierarchy

to direct access to the people doing the work.

Shifting Culture  →

Layers waste time, money, and hinder creativity. That’s why we have a layer-free structure.

When you work with us you have direct access to everyone on our team and they have access to you. If you need to discuss something creative, talk to the creative people directly. Need to talk strategy? Talk directly. That way there is no broken telephone and no time wasted in unnecessary meetings. And after you talk, the information is shared with everyone else on the project.

From culture of secrecy

to culture of openness.

Shifting Culture  →

Openness to the ideas of others is essential for culture mapping, learning and brilliant creative work.

We encourage sharing of ideas, information, and we communicate openly at all times, building upon each other's thoughts rather than compete with one another. That doesn’t mean we won’t challenge each other – far from it. But we do so in a respectful way, and with an open mind. The goal is always to learn, build and make things better. This isn’t something we just do inside BBL, it’s how we work with our clients and other partners too.

Agency Model Agency Model

Our model will always be a work in progress.

We’ll always to be looking for turning points that will alllow us to shift culture and create new norms in our own industry and in our others.

Work. TBD. ASAP.

It was tempting to fill this page with logos of brands we used to work on, but that’s not exactly transparent. So you’ll just have to wait to see our new work. In the meantime, we’d be more than happy to do a brief presentation of our creds, followed by a much longer discussion about your business.

Everything you want to ask us and lots of things you don’t.

WHAT???  →

Help us identify a turning point, or two or hopefully three.

We are hiring journalists to write about turning points.

Contact us if you're interested in writing a commissioned article or want to pitch an idea.

Read our articles.

Culture Mapping. Earn a little extra by working with us.

We’re creating a network of people to help us with Culture Mapping.

We are hiring freelancers from the creative community like photojournalists, writers, filmmakers, artists and researchers who are interested in learning from and documenting others.

We’d also like to talk to you if you have life experiences, jobs, or interests that have given you first-hand knowledge that organizations can’t get anywhere else.

For example, we’ve worked with garbage collectors, Uber drivers, people who live in shelters, meme creators, anime fans, sneaker heads, nurses, and bouncers.

To sign up just fill in the form, and we’ll be in touch soon.