August 12th, 2014

Mortar, Ben Stein, and Jackson Remix the Fireside Chat.

If “fun” isn’t a word you associate with financial services, congratulations, you’re normal. The category is plagued by dry text, stock photos, cryptic bar graphs, and cheesy Flash animation. Our client Jackson was determined to shatter this unfortunate trend. They asked us to explain their investment plan Elite Access in a way that people would legitimately enjoy and understand, which just so happens to be what we’re good at.

To start, we teamed up with the one and only Ben Stein. Any of you millennials know who that is? Anyone? Maybe you just need to get the sand out of your eyes. The professor from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off also happens to be a respected economist and an adorable old man, which made him the perfect face for the Elite Access brand.  Through an elegant combination of live action video and animation, we breathed life into an arguably dull story. May we present, Ben Stein’s Storytime.

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The storytime setting and whimsical illustration style offer a sense of warmth and accessibility. So instead of leaving the video with brainhurt, you actually understand how Elite Access works. All it took was a little simplicity and humor to make a complex topic entertaining. And we had a boatload of fun filming in LA with Ben and the Criminals. (Hey, that sounds like a band.) Did we just use the word “fun” to describe a financial services video? Looks like the category’s moving on up.

August 4th, 2014

There’s a Place for People Like Us! (And It’s Not the Nuthouse).

Sorry, San Franciscans. We’re kind of taking over your city. Our summer campaign for the Exploratorium is now up and running, and the streets are flooded with black and yellow.

Curious_Wall Billboard _Single Flag Pole

Mortar’s biggest ad of the year.

Curious_Flag Poles_Embarcadero

Our Thursday night campaign targeted young locals (and, we’re pleased to report, Thursday night attendance numbers have soared since the campaign’s launch.) The current summer campaign aims at the hordes of tourists trudging aimlessly toward Fisherman’s Wharf, because that’s all they’ve ever known. We’re here to let them know there’s more to San Francisco than whining sea lions and sourdough bread. Head down the road to Pier 15, and your brain just might get bigger.






Because the Exploratorium’s exhibits play with perception and encourage interaction, we created a campaign with plenty of “head-tilt” factor. The black and white photos, which came from the Exploratorium’s archive, all depict actual exhibits from the museum.

For Pandora radio, we wanted to make people stop and tilt their headphone-wearing heads. So we created anthem-like spots that glorify everything the Exploratorium…isn’t.


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We’re sure there’s a place for non-curious people, too, but we couldn’t tell you where it is.






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The above billboard was supposed to go up at the Pier 39 parking lot, but the Port of San Francisco requested that we move it to Union Square. (So now we’ll catch the tourists before they board their cable cars.)

And of course, the new work is expected to draw more locals to the museum, too. At 100,000 square feet, you literally discover something new every time you go. Curious? Well, we know a place.


Curious_Pedi Cab

June 30th, 2014

Pop It Like It’s Hot.

We love surprises. And a pop-up store for a cloud computing platform qualifies as a surprise in our book. Amazon Web Services has set up shop at 925 Market Street, offering educational workshops, laidback coding lounges, and an “Ask an Architect” counter where you can do exactly what it sounds like. Apparently the bouncer is choosy, so we snuck some pics for those of you who aren’t suave enough to make it past the door.

Turning a virtual product into something you can see, hear, and touch? That’s a smart move. And it never hurts to provide mountains of junk food and beer to win those coders’ hearts.

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