Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Bull and Bo Bartlett.
Matt and Bo, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Our origin story has a few bottles of red wine in it, which is a detail we would like a redo on, because it makes us sound so … basic. For brand narrative purposes, could we pretend it was an undeclared bottle of Oaxacan mescal our friend Taylor smuggled in for us? Wait. Crap. That makes it seem like we’re trying too hard to be edgy. Shitty beer. It was shitty beer. Let’s go with shitty beer that we forgot was in the fridge and it was past its expiration date but we didn’t care or even notice really because we may be advertising people but we totally don’t buy into the consumerist lie that your brand choices bear at all on who you are as a true, fully-realized individual, no sir.
So there we were, drinking our shitty beer, don’t recall the brand, and we decided we needed to start a business together. We recall being unified on that point. The only question was what kind of business. Matt pushed for something in the farming/pickling world. Bo probably wanted to make a new pork-belly-backed-cryptocurrency-exchange app or something.
Eventually we figured whatever we did should probably take advantage of our three decades of combined experience in the national brand agency and digital design and coding worlds (Matt from the Richards Group and Bo from a big box retail and then social startup background). That’s when we gazed silently into each other’s eyes and both said “Marketing agency? Marketing agency!” at the same time. There was also maybe something about philanthropy and nonprofit volunteerism in there, too. The details are hazy. On account of the shitty, so-off-brand-it-wasn’t-even-hipster beer.
And here we are. Making ads and digital things. And something about dogooderism.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Our biggest struggle has been figuring out how to hold on to our inability to take ourselves very seriously and still win new accounts. Drinking your own Kool-Aid is great for business, but probably terrible for colon health (this claim has not been evaluated by the FDA), so out of an abundance of colon-centric caution, we try to avoid it. Being patient and sticking to our instincts has paid off over time. We’ve found that the kind of clients that respond to our approach happen to be the kind of clients we most want to work with, in that they also don’t take themselves too seriously. Which, by happy coincidence, gives them the freedom to arrive at more interesting, riskier, more fun work. We just did a video for a Ted’s Pain Cream from the perspective of Greg, the co-inventor whose name was the left off the label. It takes a special kind of client to say yes to something like that.
Another example: we have particular interest in cause marketing. A whole category that’s fraught with dour self-seriousness. But we’ve been able to build to build cause campaigns for clients from baby care brands to video game studios that feel (to us) genuine and humble and fun and not-at-all colored by overblown brand-savior complexes.
And now is the time to acknowledge that we’re starting to sound like we are in fact well into the second cup of our own Kool-Aid. Sorry. This would never have happened if you’d just stop asking us questions.
Please tell us about Kickstand.
Imagine an edge. The edgiest edge you can picture. Got it? Good, now scan your eyes down the edge, past it. Create an ultra-imaginary edge with your mind that leads that edge through space like a reverse slipstream, silent, unnamable. Now go past that. There. That’s us. The Kickstand Edge. Like, so, so edgy.
We’re not done. Next, picture a three-sided blade of like three edges that all meet in this kind of super sharp pyramid pointy thing. Got it? Oh, and all the faces of the blade are mirror polished using fine, Scandinavian polishing compound ground into a moose-leather strop. And it’s heading toward the first blade in the opposite direction, and nobody knows what will happen when they meet. That’s also us. Just, you know, another edginess metaphor in case you needed it.
We’re a boutique advertising, marketing, and digital design agency. Meaning we build everything from brand identities to custom apps to TV campaigns. We do a lot of traditional work we’re unreasonably proud of. But the stuff we’re most proud of is when we work with a client to build a social good campaign that integrates deeply into the brand itself.
If you’re a client who chooses to work with us in any capacity, full disclosure that you should feel pressured to do that kind of good with both your brand and your marketing budget.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
Matt’s is making a perfect G Force costume from Battle of the Planets in kindergarten and having zero people know who he was at Halloween.
Bo’s is getting a Run DMC tape from his cool aunt for Christmas.
- Address: 1300 S. Polk
Dallas, TX 75224
- Website: heykickstand.com
- Phone: 214-308-2050
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: we should have really one of these, it’s on the list
- Facebook: facebook.com/heykickstand
- Twitter: pass
- Other: https://wax.space/ – we turned our office into a coworking space for collaborators and local business. Join us if you like.
Photos by Joanie Boney. Art (c) David Kreiling (it’s for sale, too)