The Charitable Beer

The Charitable Beer

Martin Williams’ work for Finnegans embodies its “no compromises” pro bono philosophy.

The Strategy
Doing well by doing good is a common marketing mantra, but pulling it off is another thing. It’s challenging for advertising agencies to leverage their pro-bono efforts into a calling card for for-profit business. But Minneapolis’ Martin Williams has seemingly cracked the code. Among its notable pro-bono accounts is Finnegans, a local brewer that donates all of its profits to local charities.

MW’s pro bono campaigns are “good examples of noble causes globally and locally that will give us the best opportunity to do some provocative work, whether it’s witty Irish humor (Finnegans) or something much more serious like Not For Sale, which fights human trafficking,” says Tom Moudry, the agency’s CEO and chief creative officer.
The right client must offer more than good works. “We need to like the people we work with,” he says, adding that “they . . . make the world a better place in some ways. And . . . we have a fairly strong understanding that the work we want to produce gets produced without being compromised.”

Along the way, MW’s for-profit business picked up. While Omnicom, Martin Williams’ parent, will not allow annual billings to be released, Moudry says the agency recently hired 15 new staff and now has 170 employees.

The Creative
Drinking Finnegans was positioned as an act of volunteerism. Martin Williams created a new logo, website, and social media campaign, as well as posters, coasters, and nearly everything in-between. According to the agency, 64 new Finnegans accounts were established in Minneapolis alone and sales are up 32 percent since last March. This March Finnegans will introduce a new Blonde Ale with the tag line “Doing good. Now available in blonde.”

The Buy
No traditional TV or print, because the media budget was zero. “It’s the ultimate definition of pro bono,” Moudry says, laughing.