We help brands discover & tell their best stories.

Column Five was founded in 2009, by Ross Crooks, Jason Lankow and Josh Ritchie in Orange County, CA. Currently based in Irvine, CA and Brooklyn, NY, Column Five is a full-service content marketing agency, that offers content strategy, creation, and distribution services. 

 

Our mission:

We do good work with good people. Through trusting partnerships, we build and distribute powerful visual content that educates, engages, and inspires.

 
$10,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
50 - 249
 Founded
2009
Show all +
Irvine, CA
headquarters
  • Column Five
    5151 California Ave., Suite 230
    Irvine, CA 92617
    United States
    949.614.0759
other locations
  • Column Five
    20 Jay Street, Suite 704
    Brooklyn, NY 11201
    United States
    646.351.0639

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Microsoft, LinkedIn, MarketoIntuit, Nike, A&E, World Bank, Gates Foundation, GE, Pacific Life, Google, Charles Schwab, SAP, VMware, Cornell University, UC Berkeley, Course Hero

2017 Video Reel

Pacific Life Annual Report

For the past two years, we’ve partnered with Pacific Life to develop their annual reports. Our goal was to position Pacific Life as a living, breathing, energetic entity and to remind the audience that Pacific Life is more than a life insurance company. It’s long term solutions move and evolve with you in life. To meet this goal, we experimented with hand drawings and gestural compositions that are human-centric, authentic, and organic.

For more, check out our Pacific Life’s case study.

The Spacecraft of Your Brand

Visage & Column Five collaboration

The Spacecraft of Your Brand represents how to build a strong brand by nurturing a strong core.

Your brand’s core is the source of critical and creative thinking for a company’s team, broken down into 4 familiar parts: heartfelt purpose, clear future vision, inspiring mission, and shared values. When these are upheld and communicated to the team, the brand is strong and truly authentic. As a result, attracting like-minded customers and businesses builds a healthy company and employee growth.

Telling this story through a 360 video experience immerses the viewer in the narrative and surrounding environment. The intensive process, created fully in animation, accounts for all perspectives to enable the viewer to explore the virtual space—with guiding arrows along the way, to draw attention where it would be most...

Anatomy of a Breach

This HTML native site analyses the various stages of a company security breach from the hacker’s POV. Highlighting the systemic weaknesses hackers look for most, the site presents Microsoft’s solutions to avoiding and overcoming such gaps in security. 

Applied Innovation Brand Identity

UCI Applied Innovation is a unit of University of California, Irvine with an exciting mission “to bring campus-based discoveries together with Orange County’s vibrant business community to support job creation and economic growth.” This venture includes The Cove, a workspace hub. We partnered with the team to establish their website and a fresh visual language, including branding elements such as logo, colors, font, iconography, photography, etc. to be used for all collateral. Visit UCI Applied Innovation’s website and read all about this project on our blog.

How Point Solutions Block Productivity​

We teamed up with Microsoft Office 365 to show how the everyday technology frustrations many businesses experience can be alleviated with the right tools in place. In partnership with a 40-person cast and crew, we created a 90-second web video, with 15- and 30-second cut downs for distribution across Office 365’s social media accounts.

American TV Binging Habits

We partnered with the clever team at Foodbeast to create a video that explores how much TV Americans actually binge-watch. Even better, the video uses some pretty delicious data visualization in the form of Totino’s Stuffed Nachos.

Reviews

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Content Marketing for Customer Service Software Company

"[T]hey’re really friendly… and are proactively reaching out to make things better."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
3.5
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jun. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Column Five was brought on as a partner for marketing content creation. They’ve contributed across the board to long-form pieces, interactive components, advertising and social assets, and much more.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
San Francisco, California
Program Manager, Customer Service Software Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Feedback has been well received across the company. Both the marketing team and the branding teams are excited, and have felt the content work has been significantly helpful. The team is proactive and always trying to stay one step ahead of the curve.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the program manager for our brand team at a customer service software company. We provide better customer relationships, a live chat, help centers, and more.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Column Five.

We were growing pretty fast as a company, and our brand team functions almost an internal agency. Marketing was growing particularly fast, and we were getting a lot of requests, many of which were for content. To produce and design content, it takes a long time and was too much for our internal team to handle. We were looking for a partner to be an extension of our team and help us with content creation and  long-form content production.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The main goal was content creation for marketing purposes. Our content ranges from high-level thought leadership about customer service down to tips and tricks to improve your customer service department. They have acted as a partner to work on creating these content pieces.

They’ll produce content for us and send it back over. Then, we have our content team add it to the website. If it’s a static PDF we’ll post it, but also they’ve created a couple of interactive pieces to our web team specs and we send over the package files and our web team hosts it.

They’re like a big extension of our team. They work on any kind of advertising assets, display banners, and social assets. For the most part our team will help with concept and messaging, but their team is really supportive in building out whole suites of ad sizes. They've been helping us with our asset libraries, sizing a bunch of photos for us, making sure the files are perfect. It’s been really helpful.

What is the team dynamic?

Geoff is our main account director. Then, we have a team of about 3 stable producers that we work with on a consistent basis. We have a dedicated creative director and a couple of designers that frequently work with us, but I also know they do some work on the backend as well.

How did you come to work with Column Five?

A couple years ago, some of our marketing team had worked directly with them for a small one-off project. Then, about a year and a half ago our marketing teams were working with 15 different agencies and we realized this wasn’t the most efficient way to work. Our VP stepped in and we did a full agency audit across the company budget.

We sat down and thought about how we have a lot of really creative, conceptual thinking people in-house and we really needed a production partner who’s great with content. Column Five was on the top of our lists. We really liked their work and their people. Our VP went down to meet with them in person and it felt right. We decided to move forward with them.

How much have you invested with them?

A simple asset will fall in the 2–5k range, but a longer form e-book is around 10k. Then, for the real interactive stuff it’s more like 17–20k.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in June 2016, and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

They’ve been really great and helpful. They know content well, and they care about the small details in terms of the layout or for some of the interactive components we’ve released. We’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback across our company, and our marketing teams have been really excited about it.

From our brand team perspective, it’s been super helpful having them take up some of the workload. We really appreciate that. On a personal standpoint, they’re really friendly and often are proactively reaching out to make things better. Overall, it’s been a really positive experience.

How did Column Five perform from a project management standpoint?

We’re regularly in communication. They are always proactive every time, even with a scope change or a change in schedule. We meet once a week to talk and discuss what’s coming up next. It’s been good.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Often times our creative time will push the boundaries, and we’ll send them in a certain direction. On occasion, their writers and content hasn’t quite hit the mark – but that’s a hard mark to hit. I can’t fault them too much, but it’s been somewhat of a challenge for a few projects.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

When you’re just starting out working with them, spend as much time as possible up front having them understand your brand, your processes, and simple nuances. It might seem normal for your team, but other teams might not understand.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 3.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Video Production for Multimedia Nonprofit

"Their graphic designs and animation have the most personality and nuance of any I’ve seen."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Aug. - Oct. 2016 ? check
Project summary: 

Column Five designed custom animations and graphics for a documentary film in order to increase audience investment in an otherwise dense topic.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Irvine, California
Co-Founder, Change For Balance
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Column Five’s extraordinary artistic vision turned data into an immersive and engaging experience for film viewers. Combining technical expertise with excellent project management, the end product wowed.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Our company is called Change for Balance Productions. I’m the co-founder. We’re a video production company with two components. One part of our business is a nonprofit that provides media resources to individuals and organizations that are working to better humanity. One project we did was a trip to South Africa with Charlize Theron to help her with her HIV/AIDS relief efforts. And we were just in Cambodia with the world’s foremost expert on Asian elephants; that was actually the project we engaged Column Five for. The other aspect of our business is commercial production, so we’ll direct spots for various corporates in fashion, lifestyle, and commerce.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Column Five?

One of the main challenges with film is getting necessary background information across in an interesting way. For this film about Asian elephants, we had a lot of data that we needed the audience to understand so that they would be invested in our story. We engaged Column Five to do it in a fun, engaging way.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Column Five packaged information in a palatable way and communicated it efficiently to the audience. We gave them all these statistics about Asian Elephants and they made animations for the movie. They really provided solutions. I know that’s a generic business term, but I mean it: they really bailed us out.

The project was really pretty intense, and the team at Column Five was incredible because they listened to our somewhat nontraditional ideas, interpreted them, and produced something brilliant that we could never have imagined. They had a fantastic project lead who kept us in the loop on everything all the time. He had a detailed feedback schedule, and we really moved forward on that schedule to a position where we could do our test screenings for our Hollywood team.

How did you come to work with Column Five?

They actually hired us on previous projects; on this one, we came to them. They were the only ones on our mind. We did look into other firms, but Column Five was our top choice. We didn’t know if they’d want to take this on, but we were so excited when they did. Their artists are extremely talented; we were blown away by what they created.

How much have you invested with Column Five?

It was $50,000-$75,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We began around August 2016. It took about a month and a half; they’re so efficient, it was incredible.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

The movie hasn’t been released yet, so I can’t give any numbers about that. But I can say that from test screenings, audiences and producers who have seen it at this point have all been blown away. It made the information understandable, sweet, and funny. It’s an animation that has so much emotion. We were all terrified that this part of the movie was going to slow down and drag and just be a boring data dump, but they took it to a point where kids and adults all say this is one of their favorite parts.

How did Column Five perform from a project management standpoint?

When it comes to business, you’re talking about people. People have goals and ideas and deadlines, and Column Five has the best people working for them. Their team is incredible. They’ve been working together for a long time and they communicate effectively. I was just impressed. I would highly recommend them. Their whole team, from the co-founder Josh Ritchie, all the way down to their project managers and artists, sat with us and heard us out. They added their own flair to our vision, and it was more than we ever could have imagined.

What did you find most impressive about Column Five?

What they create is beautiful. A lot of people are doing a similar style of work, but I really feel that Column Five’s is the best. Their graphic designs and animation have the most personality and nuance of any I’ve seen.

Are there any areas Column Five could improve?

I really don’t have any criticism. We’re worked with other vendors in a variety of areas, and Column Five was a dream come true. Sometimes you’ll get your deliverable and you’re kind of dreading opening it; with this, we couldn’t wait to open what Column Five would send us because we knew it was going to be incredible. We’d celebrate; we’d send it to everybody we knew; it was an incredible experience.

5.0
Overall Score The best. Incredible.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    That’s one of their strongest things.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Worth every penny.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    On a scale of one to five? 105. Absolutely.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I already have recommended them quite a few times.

Video Production and Branding for Cornell University

"I haven’t worked with another production company that’s provided better quality than Column Five."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
2015 - 2016
Project summary: 

Column Five created a logo and video promotional package for a university fundraising campaign. The design team used in-house guidelines for all animations to ensure creative cohesion. 

The Reviewer
 
10,000+ Employees
 
Ithaca, New York
Ashley Budd
Director of Digital Marketing, Cornell University
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The videos generated great social media engagement, attracting praise from alumni and donors. Column Five's streamlined workflow, timely deliverables, and ability to incorporate feedback contributed significantly to the event’s success.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

I am the director of digital marketing at Cornell University in the division of Alumni Affairs and Development.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with Column Five?

We were looking for identity assets and video assets for Cornell's first Giving Day. That was in 2015. Column Five created the mark that we used and used Cornell's branding guidelines to build out the identity for Giving Day. Then, we looked for them to do the video assets for that campaign. We ended up using them to do all sorts of animations for us.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.

For our logo for Giving Day, Column Five selected the color palette and what colors were going to be primary and secondary. They designed email headers and banners. Then, for the video component of the project, which was the bulk of the work, they did a save the date video, three teaser videos, the actual Giving Day video, and a thank you video after it was over. It was animation – no live action.

They also delivered a video bumper. It was a 10-second animation of the logo that we could share with people who were creating their own Giving Day videos. That was nice. We actually only scoped two teaser videos with them, and they delivered three because they came up with another fun concept that they insisted we use. That was an added bonus.

How did you come to work with Column Five?

We were working with a digital strategy consultant on other aspects of our work, and they referred us to Column Five. After we saw what they could do, we were comfortable just going forward with them.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

We also did this work with them the following year for another Giving Day. Each year, we spent about $40,000 with them, maybe a little bit more last year [2015] – closer to $45,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

Last year was the first Giving Day, and then we used them again in 2016.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

We got great feedback from our alumni. This was something new that we hadn't done before – using animation as part of an awareness campaign. We asked them to build our videos for social media. The teaser videos we wanted to be short – very little dialogue if any at all – so people could watch them silently. They pushed the concept, especially on the teaser videos, to the next step by making them something that would be really shareable on social media.

When they delivered storyboards for us, the stories that they were building weren't about Giving Day or giving at all. They were more about fun little snapshots of our bear mascot doing silly things. They had a subtle tie to Giving Day so that it was hitting that awareness mark. It was like subliminal messaging about Giving Day to make it more sharable on social media.

How did Column Five perform from a project management standpoint?

They were probably one of the best companies – one of the best vendors – I've worked with as far as project management goes. From the start, we scoped out the whole timeline. We picked dates for review and for delivery. For each review, their project manager gave me exactly what was going to be delivered and exactly what kind of feedback they wanted at that point, which was super helpful for me. Because I knew when the turnaround time was, I could go to my team and say tell them exactly what sort of feedback Column Five needed from us. They had their process down to a science, and they're clear about that upfront so that you know what to expect.

What distinguishes Column Five from other providers?

They do a good job of listening to feedback, trying to capture exactly what you're describing. Especially in video creation, I think many clients will come in with an idea in their head, and they do a good job translating that, but they also present their own ideas. They did all the script writing for us – the writing was fantastic. They're super professional.

I mentioned they gave us an extra teaser video the first year. That was above and beyond, and they ended up going above and beyond the second year, too. They gave us all of the Illustrator files for the animated video assets so that we could use the graphics that they designed in other places in our marketing.

Is there anything Column Five could have improved or done differently?

No – not really. They also have a product called Visage, and they offered to us for free for the amount of time that we were working with them. They've just got a ton going on, and it helps keep us wanting to work with them. They just always keep making things easier for us. They're not very pushy, which is a good thing, but I also don't know if I used their other services to the extent that I would if they had been promoting the sales of that other stuff more aggressively. I'm not someone who would promote aggressive sales, but there are people that I know have a lot going on, and they would probably benefit from being a little bit more persistent with some of their other products.

5.0
Overall Score They listened to our feedback, and we’ve been happy with everything they’ve done.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    If there was any a time when the deadline slipped, it was because of me, not them.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They are expensive. We can’t afford to work with them for live action, which is unfortunate because they’re awesome.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The work that they did we couldn’t have possibly done on our own, and I haven’t worked with another production company that’s provided better quality than Column Five.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I refer them all the time.

Content Marketing for Donors Choose Nonprofit

"They're always on the cutting edge of technology for telling stories."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2011 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Column Five has completed at least 15 different projects for the client since 2011. These projects include informational videos about the organization, infographics, and annual organizational reports.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York City, New York
Katie Bisbee
Chief Marketing Officer, Donors Choose
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Column Five's products reach 2 million donors and 500,000 teachers. The company received extremely high praises, especially for its organization, personnel, creativity, and ability to communicate clear and compelling stories.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

DonorsChoose.org is a charity crowdfunding platform that helps public school teachers across America. I am the chief marketing officer.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Column Five?

The challenge was using data to tell our story. We have a lot of data, but Column Five has pulled that together in a way that tells a clear and descriptive story.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Column Five has helped us with several initiatives. First, Column Five has created a bunch of infographics for us through the years, telling stories for a specific data set. For example, they made an infographic that shows how donors choose classroom projects to fund on our site. Second, they created a video for us that told our organization's story. It's like an explanatory or introductory video about our organization, using data and infographics. Third, they created an annual report that summarized our year, teacher stories, and data trends.

Column Five recently created a report for us about technology and how teachers are using it in classrooms across America. This involved taking a bunch of survey data with teachers plus our own database findings. It also required doing outside research. Column Five pulled all that together to tell a story about what's happening in technology and why it's important. They created this beautiful report for us and have been helping us reach out to the media as well.

How did you come to work with Column Five?

Back in 2011, Column Five was known as the infographics firm. They were known as the best in the business. We were fortunate to have some people in the DonorsChoose community who knew the founders of Column Five [Ross Crooks, Jason Lankow, and Josh Ritchie] and connected us.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in 2011. Column Five helps us with at least a couple of engagements a year. In the past five years, we have probably worked with them on at least 15 different things.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

Column Five created a report for us recently, and we've been impressed by the media pickup and the media coverage for that project. We attribute that to the quality of the content that they built and their help with the media outreach. For us, the best measure that something is great is that we want to share it with our community of two million donors and half-million teachers. We've shared with our entire community the infographics, videos, and annual reports that Column Five has created for us. I see that as a measure of success because we're careful about how often we email our donors and our teachers. For us to be emailing them a video is a testament to the excellent quality of Column Five's work.

How did Column Five perform from a project management standpoint?

Column Five is incredibly organized. For example, they did everything with project management for the tech and the classroom report. At the beginning of the project, we had a long in-person meeting with all the players present in the room. Column Five asked us great questions about our goals and what we wanted to get out of the report. They clarified that and nailed it down so that we were on the same page. Then, they set out a three-month timeline for creating, producing, and pitching the report. We're organized, but Column Five was driving the process forward every step of the way. They reminded us about deadlines, kept us organized, and made sure things were happening. Column Five made it so easy for us to do whatever it was they needed. They made it so easy for us to remember when we needed to review something, and they always gave us a lot of warning in advance. Back in the day, Column Five was based in the West Coast so we didn't get to work with them in person. But, now they have an office in Brooklyn [in New York] and that makes it much easier to work with them.

What did you find most impressive about Column Five?

Column Five definitely never sits still. They're always trying to think about the best and newest way to tell a story. They're always on the cutting edge of technology for telling stories. From a year-to-year basis, the projects we've worked with on them have gotten better and have improved a lot. You want an agency that keeps iterating and keeps improving so that the work you're getting out of them is better.

The other thing I would say is Column Five is made up of all these great people. They're the kind of people you want to work with. They're friendly, positive, fun, bright, and every single person on their team is awesome. I haven't worked with anyone that was anything but a great person to work with.

Are there any areas Column Five could improve?

I don't think I have any current feedback that I would share, and I promise that I would if I did.

5.0
Overall Score I absolutely love working with them and always feel like it's a full partnership.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They're more organized than we are, and we set a very high bar for organization.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Every time we've worked with Column Five, they've done a much better job of telling our story than we would have on our own. That's really the reason we keep going back to them.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I have done that many times with the marketing peers that I have.

Content Marketing for Internet Explorer

"Column Five thinks differently from other creatives."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$1,000,000 - $9,999,999
 
2011 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Column Five provided full-service content marketing for an updated browser campagin, to include audience research, display ads, and social media content. They also built the campaign site, and created an email and CRM campaign.

The Reviewer
 
10,000+ Employees
 
Seattle, Washington
Bryan Saftler
Creative Technologist, Microsoft
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Column Five's campaign products revitalized and re-introduced users to the new Internet Explorer browser. The client commended their unique creativity, collaborative approach, and dedication to understanding the project.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

I'm currently working for Microsoft.

What is your position?

I'm the creative technologist for the Xbox Division.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with Column Five?

I've worked with Column Five for a couple years now. Mostly I worked with Column Five when I was part of the Internet Explorer business. We were launching a new version of the Internet Explorer browser, and at the time, there was a perception that Internet Explorer was an old, outdated browser. We needed a way to generate excitement about the brand as well as to the product itself, Internet Explorer 10, to get people to look at it again. The project wasn't really about driving up downloads. It was just about getting people to try it again and shift their perception.

We contacted Column Five, and we worked out a new campaign that was called The Browser You Loved to Hate. It was probably the most successful we've ever had for Internet Explorer. We built out an entire site dedicated to it, TheBrowserYouLovedtoHate.com, which drove a ton of awareness and traffic behind it. We created a fun video that was a retro throwback to all these things generating this nostalgia about Explorer. We had a great SEM [search engine marketing] and CRM [customer relationship management] campaign. That was all part of what Column Five thought up, brainstormed, and then was able to execute.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.

Column Five is a full-service agency, so when we approached them, we were looking for a shop that would not only be able to build out the creative aspects that we needed but also could do the implementation from an interactive point of view. We needed to have a website built that leveraged the latest in HTML5 that would look great on our browser. They have a whole team of strategic analysts who went in, understood our audience, understood who we wanted to reach out to, and were able to craft a narrative and story that took advantage of the things that we knew they cared about. They did all the creative work. They built our banner display ads, Facebook, social, and Twitter. They not only built the website but built all the image aspects for it, too. They helped us create an email and CRM campaign that get users to come on board. They built out a couple videos that were associated with the larger video that came out for The Browser You Loved to Hate, which you can see on YouTube, for example.

As the campaign evolved and moved on, we worked closely with them to evolve the campaign to move away from the self-effacing humor and more toward the future of the Internet, which is where IE11 and now Edge are today. We lean heavily upon the team at Column Five to build everything from a creative point of view.

How did you come to work with Column Five?

We vetted a whole bunch of agencies. During the RFP [request for proposal] process we brought in about 15 agencies, and we delivered them a brief, and they responded to that brief through their own pitches. This was a big campaign – a multimillion-dollar campaign globally – not just in the United States. This was a big push for us, and we wanted to make sure that we brought on the right team. When it came down to it, Column Five had the strongest pitch and definitely the pitch that made the most sense for our brand.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

It was more than $1 million.

What is the status of this engagement?

It's gone from 2011 or 2012 to now. I still work with them. I've moved through a few jobs in different sectors of Microsoft. When you make a relationship that has a team that you know you can trust, and they've delivered for you in the past, typically you will bring that relationship forward with you. They are on a short list of agencies that I would call if I had a project for them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

It was great. People were actually talking about Internet Explorer for the first time positively in a long time.

How did Column Five perform from a project management standpoint?

They're phenomenal. The folks that are in place now in client services and account management are great.

One of the things that makes them so strong as an agency is the fact that they pride themselves on being client-led. They are an extension of your team. There is no ego and no attitude to the way that they work. They want to understand and be part of your brand. When you have a team with an attitude like that, it's difficult to do things wrong. They'll always start by overcommunicating rather than under communicating and, in time, you will find the right balance that works for your team.

I've never seen them come in over budget, and they've never failed to deliver for me. That's a key reason why I continue to go back and hire them.

What distinguishes Column Five from other providers?

Most creatives are pretty much dime a dozen. What separates Column Five is the fact that they are not located in downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York. They are located just outside, in the Newport Beach area, and part of what makes that special is the fact that there is a lot of fashion and a lot of art designers and music-minded creatives, and so Column Five thinks differently from other creatives.

Everybody can build a banner ad, but the way that they build the banner ad fits and gels differently than many of other agencies. It may not work for every client, but it definitely works for Microsoft. We've found more often than not that their creative pitches and their outputs tend to be at a different level and are refreshing, and new. It's been pretty good, and I think that's why we keep them on a very short list. That ability to be continuously renewing and continuously modeled after something that is unlike anything else in that industry, I think that separates them in a space all on their own.

Is there anything Column Five could have improved or done differently?

When we went through the brainstorming process, they had some good ideas, but nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering. If you're looking for a creative agency that's going to knock it out of the park and completely understand your brand from a marketing perspective, Column Five is for you. If you're looking for a team that is going to tell you how to build your product, then you might want to look in another direction.

4.5
Overall Score They’re outstanding, one of the best agencies that I work with. It's tough to get a perfect score on this one, but I absolutely love working with these guys. They are an unbelievable agency.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    I’ve never had a single problem with them.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They typically will come in lower than much of our other competition. I think it’s just because they’re hungry as a brand.
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Their deliverables and the quality of execution is flawless. You can’t throw everything to them and expect them to return it. It’s more of a collaborative process.
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I love their work. I think they do a great job. I’ve never been disappointed by them.