Open up the latest issue of The Drake magazine or visit the popular online fly fishing blog, Moldy Chum, both irreverent bibles for trout bums and fly fishing fanatics, and you’re likely to find a lot of staid ads hawking fly rods in the hands of lonely anglers on distant rivers or fat trout handled by old dudes in “grip and grins.” It’s all supposed to add up to the idea that the fishing is good and you better get in on this now. But then there’s the work of Washington, D.C.-based agency Admirable Devil.
“Fly fishing advertising is often A River Runs Through It without Brad Pitt, because they can’t afford Brad. But they can afford great ideas,” said Kirk Deeter, Editor at Angling Trade, the industry trade publication.
Admirable Devil has no less than three different ads in the Drake and work featured in just about every fly fishing publication out there, online or print, for clients The Orvis Company, Scientific Anglers, and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. The agency is shaking off the dust of a category with bold ads that feel more Bud Light than Merlot. That’s because the fly fishing industry, with about a $900 million in category sales, has seen the need to court a new generation of anglers. They’re being primed to replace the older anglers who are literally falling out of fishing due to death and old age, and to position themselves ahead of the millennials and gen-xers who have discovered fly fishing through Instagram and cross-category adventure sports. The Orvis Company has even spear-headed a coalition of brands and groups to establish the bold goal of supporting women to become half the angling population by 2050.
Admirable Devil started working with Orvis three years ago on the launch of their latest fly rod in the Helios series introducing a modern, edgy look to match a modern-looking rod. Black and white imagery and graphic design stands out in any fishing publication. That work lead to an invite to a competitive strategy assignment to help Orvis unite its categories – fly fishing, hunting, dog, and home. The agency beat out several agencies to develop the brand platform, and now has two :30 television spots launching on national cable under a new campaign and brand tagline for Orvis, The Great Awaits. Print has been testing in-market for a year in Garden & Gun and other pubs, and was collaboratively developed with Orvis in-house team. It’s the first foray into TV for the 150-year old retailer that invented catalog marketing according to a recent AdAge article.
The new ads aim to show people with a passion for the outdoors that Orvis is an authentic, accessible brand that understands why you love your outdoor life.
The first spot, above, unites the brand categories in an upbeat anthem built on the anticipation felt in all outdoor pursuits.
The second spot, above, shows a curious young couple, falling in love, getting married and starting a family with fly fishing as the backdrop, with the great outdoors as a wonderous thing that binds them together.
When a second client in the category, Scientific Angler, sought to introduce its latest fly line technology, a super geeky formula that makes lines slicker which somehow leads to catching more fish, Admirable Devil created a surly amateur basement scientist to host Zonker Time with Zonker in explainer videos that feel like a mashup of Mythbusters and Adult Swim. The two-minute ads debuted in paid social and over time generated a 10% increase in business growth and 30% boost in sales of the lines in independent fly shops.
“The response and engagement from the fly fishing industry and our consumers has been really strong for the two videos,” said Brad Befus, President of Scientific Angler.
A lot of fly anglers also happen to be conservationists who practice catch-and-release fishing and support organizations like Trout Unlimited for freshwater conservation and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) for saltwater habitat conservation. In fact, Joel Johnson is a former CMO at Trout Unlimited (TU), the leading national coldwater conservation nonprofit founded by anglers. At TU, Joel built the relationships and expertise to be credible in the space, and that included a lot of fishing.
For client Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Admirable Devil had the difficult task of interpreting the science behind the connectivity of two important saltwater fish species with vast ranges stretching from the Florida Keys to Cuba and the Yucatan, into ads that would motivate the average angler to support.
“Bonefish and Tarpon are prized gamefish, but people didn’t realize they were a limited resource without borders. So we treated them like characters and animated their journey,” said Bruce Gray, Co-Executive Creative Director at Admirable Devil.
Moldy Chum wrote, “Journey of the Silver King follows megalops Antlanticus on his poon-y quest for sex, grub and a seat at the throne.”
The BTT films began airing last Fall and this Spring and one of the films is now a selection at the Brand Film Festival at the Paley Center in New York this May.
The agency has other less fishy clients, including Houston-based national department store Stage and off-price retailer Gordmans (also owned by Stage). Their first client, Stage, has been working with the agency for three years now on national TV and radio. Gordmans is an off-price department store relaunching in a crowded category with three new TV spots by Admirable Devil as well.
Gray shared, “We relish challenging expectations through advertising and we can do it for any brand willing to take a risk with us to shake things up.”
Agency: Admirable Devil
Executive Creative Director / Art Director: Michael Carpenter
Executive Creative Director / Copywriter: Bruce Gray
Chief Strategist: Joel R. Johnson
Senior Producer: Amy Romanow
Senior Editor: Gabriel Kornbluh
Production Company: Traveler
Executive Producer: Steven Gould
Director: Tony McNamara
Production Manager: Jake Brown
Director of Photography: Tony McNamara
Editorial: Admirable Devil (Devil Pictures)
Editor: Gabriel Kornbluh
Post Producer: Amy Romanow
Colorist: Kevin Barker
Audio: RAINMAKER recording & creative
Executive Producer: Kristin O’Connor
Sound Designer / Mixer: Jeff McManus
“LTD” Music: Brotheryn Studios
Composer: Todd Hannigan
“Anthem” Music: HiFi Project
Composer: Rafter Roberts
EP: Jack Bradley
CD: Paul Robb
Post provided by Admiral Devil, a Capitol Communicator sponsor.