Independent, Full-Service Creative & Media Agency

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CUTWATER: BUILDERS OF DISTINCTIVE BRANDS 

At Cutwater, we hone and sharpen a brand into something more distinctive so it has a better chance of cutting through, being heard, and standing apart. Because we believe that distinctive brands are the ones more people care about. And because we know distinctive brands are the ones that drive growth and preference.

We Are:

  • Based in SF (with a satellite office in NYC) 
  • Independently owned
  • An experienced team
  • Creators of famous campaigns that move the needle

We Believe In:

  • Great storytelling
  • Clients that have something to prove
  • The power of creativity
  • Having a client-centric mindset

 

 
$75,000+
 
Undisclosed
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2007
Show all +
San Francisco, CA
headquarters
  • 950 Battery Street, Floor 4
    San Francisco, CA 94111
    United States
other locations
  • 110 E. 25th Street, Floor 4
    New York City , NY 10010
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Google, Brawny, Twitter, Axos Bank, Unison, Russell Stover, Smitten Ice Cream, Edelman Financial Engines, Ray-Ban, Peet's Coffee & Tea, Sunrun, Jeep, American Giant, Lenscrafters

Russell Stover "Hugs"

Russell Stover® Chocolates have been an American classic since 1923, but they needed our help to make the brand more culturally relevant to contemporary consumers. The solution? Position Russell Stover as a gifting company; the chocolatier that consumers go to for any and every occasion. In "Hugs," the anthem spot for the “Make happy.™” campaign (the brand's first national creative campaign in more than 20 years), we

celebrate the joy of gifting and the feeling of happiness that comes with bestowing a gift of Russell Stover chocolates to a friend or loved one.

As a new challenger brand, Axos Bank welcomed the idea of bold, memorable campaign that would help them stand out from the competition. By tapping into the increased distrust of financial institutions and the idea that banks are robbing customers through high and/or hidden fees, we introduced Axos as a modern, fair bank that puts customers first.

Unison "Doors"

Over the last decade, the cost of buying a home in the Bay Area, and in much of the rest of the country, has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels, locking many people out of the possibility of ever buying a home. We worked with Unison, a San Francisco-based company pioneering a smarter, better way to buy and own homes, on its first ever brand campaign, “Together, you can.” This “Doors” spot quite literally demonstrates

how Unison is breaking down the financial barriers many homeowners and homebuyers face, opening the door to a dream many have but previously thought impossible.

Peet's Coffee & Tea "Coffee First"

Alfred Peet started a coffee revolution by introducing a style of coffee that Americans had never tasted before -- fresh beans, small batches and a dark roast that produced rich and complex flavors. His influence in the artisan coffee movement inspired a new generation of coffee entrepreneurs, including the founders of Starbucks. The problem? Nobody knew that Peet’s true commitment and passion in the pursuit of better

coffee is still at the backbone of their business today. PeThis video was created to reaffirm Peet’s position as the original craft coffee.

Eight years into the business of solar leasing with limited awareness, Sunrun had to establish themselves in a cluttered, cost-savings focused category. What we plugged into from Sunrun customers was that it isn’t about saving money at all. It’s about change. It’s about progress. It’s a really clever hedge against a future of eternally rising energy costs. To them, switching to solar was more than just a smart decision. It was

a brilliant one. This spot, "Solar Motion," illustrates how powered goods can run on the sun.

Brawny "Chili"

While Brawny was once an iconic brand with a recognizable mascot (the Brawny Man) and reputation for offering a tough paper towel, the brand had lost its way over the years. In order to reestablish itself as a category leader, Brawny needed to behave like a challenger brand and build an emotional connection with a new generation of consumers.

Our work with Brawny began by establishing a point the following brand

point-of-view: "always face life's challenges with strength of character," which birthed the external "Stay Giant" campaign -- a nod to the brand's historical depiction of the Brawny Man as a giant in size, a modernized shift in strength from physical to emotional, and a change from needing help from others to recognizing the strength within. 

The "Stay Giant" campaign was a 360 degree effort, from packaging that cropped the Brawny Man so that individuals would see themselves as the giant, to TV/OLV ads depicting relatable clean-up situations -- like pet messes at home and spilled chili from the office kitchen -- and realistic reactions (nobody actually LIKES wiping up), to OOH boards in resilient markets like Detroit, Pittsburg, and Atlanta with copy around human truths that tied back to the product (e.g. "Never Throw in the Towel"), to digital, social, experiential activations, and more.

Reviews

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Web Dev & Marketing for Chocolate Co

"They bring the capability and know-how of a big agency and the entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Cutwater developed a platform that effectively communicates a chocolate company’s brand. They created a brand position and creatively executed in the store and across digital and television.

The Reviewer
 
501-1,000 Employees
 
Kansas City, Missouri
Mark Riegel
Vice President of Marketing, Russell Stover
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Initial results are positive. Cutwater’s communication strategy is effective and persuasive. Prioritizing their partner’s success, their team worked hard to make sure everything was done right. They were responsive, leading to a smooth collaboration.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

Russell Stover is a category leader within chocolate gifting occasions such as Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day and Christmas. I lead marketing for Russell Stover

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Cutwater?

We were looking for a strategic partner to help us create an ownable and enduring brand and communication platform that reminds consumers of the joy to give Russell Stover everyday.

What were your goals for this project?

Our goals were to finalize our positioning, create a lasting campaign idea and bring it to life in exciting ways that are persuasive to a mass audience.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

The team requested proposals from multiple top-tier creative agencies. After thorough discussions and reviews, we picked Cutwater - not only because of their capabilities, but also due to their work ethic and genuine resolve to move brands forward in the market place. They are just good people to work with and they are great at what they do.

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

The scope of working included positioning, platform development and creative execution across a number of touch points including television, digital/social, and in-store.

What was the team composition?

I have worked very closely with their principles and account team. In addition, they have worked so well with our in-house creative and marketing teams.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

Since beginning our work, we have qualified a highly persuasive communication platform and we are running media for the first time thanks to our great partnership with Cutwater. While still early, initial results are promising and we appreciate the partnership with Cutwater to help us achieve our creative and business goals.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

The team at Cutwater is highly responsive and willing to rollup their sleeves to get the job done. They bring the capability and know-how of a big agency and the entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up. For us, it has been a great combination.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

In short, the lengths they go to, to partner and understand the category and our business. They truly want to be business partners, not just creative. They know if we accomplish our goals, that we all will win in the end.

Are there any areas for improvement?

One area of watch out is bench strength. I know they are working on it and they have already been planning/hiring to grow as they take on new clients/work.

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

Rebranding for Paper Product Manufacturer

“They helped us reach our end goals, and their creativity was top-notch.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2014 - Nov. 2017
Project summary: 

Cutwater rebranded an iconic paper towel brand that suffered from dwindling consumer loyalty. They researched the brand’s history before developing a multi-year campaign to support its relaunch.

The Reviewer
 
10,001+ Employees
 
Atlanta, Georgia
Gary Gastel
Senior Brand Director, Georgia-Pacific LLC
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Retailers are supportive of the changes, and the consumer response is positive. Cutwater was communicative, and they made the process simple. Interactions were friendly, and they responded quickly to requests.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I worked with Cutwater in my role at a large manufacturer of paper products. I've since left the company, but I worked in our consumer products space as the Senior Brand Director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Cutwater?

We were addressing our brick and mortar retail channel and our online sales. They helped with our advertising and the relaunch of a paper towel brand.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The brand had a lot of equity and consumer awareness, but not a lot of loyalty. They relaunched the brand and built a new campaign for it. They researched the brand’s historical aspects, and they helped our customers understand its values. From there, they developed a brand-defining idea and multi-year executions centered around one large campaign.

What is the team composition?

I worked with a team of about five. They work like a small agency, but they have the creative power of a larger firm.

How did you come to work with Cutwater?

We did a broad search that was specific to this brand. Cutwater felt like a great fit, since they worked with other iconic American brands that suffered from similar challenges.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project began in early 2014, and we were still working with them when I left the company in November 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

They really helped turn the brand around, and feedback was amazing. We escalated the emotional message, and the consumer response was very positive. We associated the brand with American values, and our retailers were very supportive. Reviews were excellent, and the results were great all around.

How did Cutwater perform from a project management standpoint?

They performed very well, even though we're in a different time zone. They were available when we needed them, though, due to some internal restrictions, we couldn't communicate regularly through video calls. We made regular phone conversations work, and they were always responsive.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They simplify everything, and the team always felt very intimate. They helped us reach our end goals, and their creativity was top-notch.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I can't come up with anything they should change, though they could elevate their social advertising capabilities. I think they've grown in that area, but we struggled a little at the time.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Communicate your goals clearly, and explain your brand in as much detail as you can. Since their process is so simple, it helps them to know what you do and don't want.

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

Advertising for Healthcare Company

“We felt like they were strong advocates of our brand and what we were trying to do.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Cutwater provides advertising services, first creating a brand platform and then all the creatives for a regional marketing campaign. Using television, radio, digital, and social, they worked across 26 states.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Nashville, Tennessee
Former CMO, Healthcare Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Their advertising campaigns generated increased leads and improved awareness of the brand, bringing in interested providers and communicating the company’s core values. The team is creative, skilled, and communicative, ensuring the brand can differentiate itself.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We’re a transactional marketplace for healthcare services where you can buy a medical procedure online at a pre-negotiated cash pay rate for a bundled service. I was the CMO and general manager. I oversaw all of the brand definition and positioning, all of our marketing campaigns and activities, as well as call center activities, etc.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Cutwater?

We needed to bring increased awareness to our product and trial it with a consumer audience.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They created a brand platform and a manifesto from that, then all the creative execution for a regional campaign. It was a combination of digital marketing and a traditional advertising campaign. We utilized television, radio, digital, and social. They also created and maintained all of the performance based digital marketing for all our locations across 26 states.

What is the team composition?

We had a core team of five or six people.

How did you come to work with Cutwater?

I met the president at a social networking event. We started talking about the opportunity, looked at their work, and loved their approach.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in February 2016 and the work is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Their work was transformational for us in terms of helping to communicate our core value proposition and strategic positioning for the brand. We generated what we desired in terms of increasing brand awareness. Several providers responded to us and really wanted to know more about what we were doing and how we could work with them. That was a huge success.

How did Cutwater perform from a project management standpoint?

They were great to work with. As a smaller startup, you never know where you’re going to land within the agency ecosystem. We felt like they were strong advocates of our brand and what we were trying to do. They really believed in the strategic brand promise and helped us to execute on that.

We had regular check-ins and meetings. The creative team was available when we needed to review things. We launched on time and the reports came in on time. There was a regular process for managing good results. They also were incredibly nimble in helping us to integrate their reporting with our reporting. We used Domo, with all of our internal dashboards placed on that. They did an enormous amount of work with us to help make sure that their metrics could be seen in our reporting infrastructure.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I’m impressed with their creativity on a strategic level. They call it the cutwater, which what lands in the market and differentiates the brand in an easy and understandable way that resonates. They do that incredibly well, especially for challenging brands or brands that are coming into a confusing marketplace.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I’ve seen them evolve a tremendous amount from the beginning of our work with them. Performance-based programs are an area they’re doing really well with, but increasing the level of dedication and support would only enhance their services. It’s great today, but it could grow further.

5.0
Overall Score They’re a great team and their creativity speaks for itself.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We were able to meet the deadlines.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Advertising cost is always something that’s hard to justify. They’re right in the range.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They took our business seriously from a purpose driven place.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’d recommend them to a friend or colleague who had responsibility for a challenge or brand.
Verification

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Verification Level
Bronze
VERIFIED
Business Entity
Business Entity Name
Cutwater LLC
Status
Active
Jurisdiction of Formation
California
ID
201104110286
Date of Formation
Jan 28, 2011
Last Updated
Apr 10, 2020
Payment & Legal Filings
Bankruptcy
No
Tax Lien Filings
0
Judgement Filings
0
Collections Count
0
Last Updated
May 1, 2020
Client Reviews
VERIFIED CLIENT REVIEWS
3
OVERALL REVIEW RATING
4.7
Source
Clutch
LAST UPDATED
December 16, 2019