Brandathon: Top Ad Agencies Set to Brand Boston Startups for Free

Imagine the biggest ad agencies in New England offered to brand your startup for free. Yes, free.

5 min readJun 19, 2015

Well, thanks to The Ad Club’s Brandathon, you no longer need to imagine or wish — you’ll just need to submit a 60-second pitch video.

Last year Kathy Kiely, President of The Ad Club, the largest trade association for the advertising and communications industry in New England, and David Chang, investor, entrepreneur and, the then head of PayPal’s Start Tank, combined to launch the Brandathon, bringing together their respective worlds — agencies and startups.

The event paired 10 startups with 10 agency teams, who then spent 72 hours crafting campaigns and strategies for early-stage startups who could only dream of this type of access. Branding and marketing are often afterthoughts for cash-strapped startups, but there’s a movement to fix that — and the Brandathon is leading that movement.

Today, The Ad Club has officially announced that it will host the second annual Brandathon competition and will accept startup applications beginning on June 15th.

Interested startups will upload their 60-second elevator pitch video explaining the idea or concept behind their company. Videos will be posted online where the general public will vote up their favorite startups by sharing the videos socially.

The top 12 startups will each be paired with an Agency team, who will then have 72-hours to develop a full brand campaign for the startups. Agency teams will present their final campaigns to a panel of renowned judges and live audience of over 300 people on Thursday, August 6th, 2015.

Why You Should Enter

Expert Branding: You can’t afford to work with any of these agencies… So you can’t afford to miss the Brandathon!

You Own the Rights: You completely own all the materials and work created by the agency on your behalf during the Brandathon.

Promo / Pitch Video: The 60-second pitch video you create to apply for the Brandathon is not only a great exercise, but you’ll undoubtedly find use for that pitch on other platforms.

Exposure: The 2015 Brandathon is hot this year! Once you submit your pitch video, it will live on the Brandathon site created by SapientNitro for the community to watch, vote on and share! You never know who might see it.

Success Stories: Perhaps you’ve seen (or even had your eyes checked inside) the Project 2020 busses. That bus was designed as part of FORGE Worldwide’s “How Eye Care Rolls” campaign at the 2014 Brandathon. That could be you this year! Check out the work from the top 3 Winners from 2014.

Not enough? Brandathon Host Committee Chair, CEO of Startup Institute, Diane Hessan, gives you her pitch:

Two of the most vibrant parts of Boston are the startup community and the agency community — and yet we rarely have an opportunity to work with each other. The Brandathon is a chance for agencies to do fun and creative work and really make a difference for a startup — and the startups will have an opportunity to get marketing expertise beyond their wildest dreams. It will be a fantastic event!

Chang, who worked closely with the startups involved in the inaugural Brandathon and is an integral part of Brandathon 2015, offered up some insight as to the experience and value received by those startups in working with these agencies:

“I’ve lived in the startup world for the past 15 years, and the Brandathon is one of the most unique gatherings of entrepreneurs and creative talent I’ve seen in one place. I think of it as Mad Men meets Silicon Valley, and it’s an eye-opening experience for startups to be exposed to such creative talent. The whole event is amazingly fun and has both the steak and the sizzle.”

Breaking Down the Details

Startup Criteria: Under $5M in funding, less than 25 full-time employees and past prototype phase. Full criteria here.

Applications: Begin accepting applications on June 15, 2015. [If you need assistance or a location to shoot the video The Ad Club and select partners have you covered — email Kate @]

Process: Startups will be voted on by the community and winners will be partnered with participating agencies. Branding campaigns will be presented by the agency teams at the main event on August 6thin Boston.

Agencies: Allen & Gerritsen; Arnold Worldwide; DigitasLBi; FORGE Worldwide; Full Contact; Hill Holiday; Isobar; NAIL; SapientNitro; 36creative; Viewpoint Creative

The Brandathon is bridging the gap between the Startup world and the Agency world here in Boston, providing startups with the kind of marketing genius typically reserved for big brands. Last year left everyone involved wanting more, so The Ad Club is delivering.

It’s now up to the startup community to show the Ad world exactly what that community is made of! We need early-stage startups to apply and we need the entire community to watch the videos and vote up their favorites!

The 2015 Brandathon will change how startups and the Boston branding community work together — don’t miss your opportunity to be a part of it!

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Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz. You can follow him on Twitter @jb_sid.

Originally published at




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