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Special Project

Special Project
From the 14th Annual Shorty Awards

QuickBooks: Early Starts

Entered in Organic Promotion



Crises are a catalyst for entrepreneurship. The COVID-19 pandemic saw an unprecedented surge in the number of small businesses nationwide. We called this next generation of small business owner the "Early Start" — people who were working with more than idea on a napkin, but still in their entrepreneurial infancy. 

Connecting with this audience represented a significant opportunity for QuickBooks to establish a relationship early so they can support their customers (and small businesses) as they grow. To that end, some of our Key Objectives included: 


Strategy and Execution

Our Audience: While Millennials and Gen Z are by no means identical groups, we were able to tap into a great deal of overlap between them.

Both groups grew up sharing their opinions over social media. It gave them the power to share, influence others, and question the status quo. In turn, social has shaped their values, behaviors, and worldviews. 

Generally speaking, Millennials and Gen Z challenge authority and promote (and even enforce) change throughout culture. Their desire for self-agency and their tendency toward hyper-individualism are visible in today’s uprising of young entrepreneurs. 

They’re eager to carve their own path, especially when it comes to success and income (e.g., 53% hope to run their own business within the next ten years), but that means that, sooner or later, they’ll need help.

Our Insight and Strategy: Chefs are great at culinary art, and shop owners know their wares. But as their endeavors grow, the business itself gets harder and scarier to run. Payroll, expenses, taxes, spreadsheets—Early Starts live in fear of a mistake that could harm their chance at greater success. In other words, there's a duality in the Early Start mindset, a sense of growing empowerment on one hand, and a sense of growing powerlessness on the other.

By recognizing this unique Early Start dualism, we created an opportunity to connect in an authentic way with our audience. To breakthrough and reach our audience, we needed to tap into the Early Start’s mixed feelings, and trigger a shift in perspective. To that end, we planned our content around the crux of Early Start journey—that "oh sh*t" moment where small business owners acknowledge that there's a lot they don't know, and a lot they need help with. 

Our Concept: We called this moment of realization the Bizpiphany. It was also the moment were QuickBooks could enter the picture and remind business owners that it's okay—no one can do it all on their own, and QuickBooks's products and services are there to help.

Our Content: With empathy for our audience's struggles and insight into their digital-first media behaviors, we produced a suite of digital video shorts that could be adapted and deconstructed to support touch points throughout the customer journey. We produced 7 shorts in 2 days while collecting footage for over 300 digital-first assets ranging from :15s TOF placements to offer-driven BOF static display placements. These placements also supported a media buy across paid social, display, and native advertising channels in addition to QuickBooks social accounts.

Our Tone: Lastly, our creative needed to stop thumbs by striking the right balance between relevance and charm. We purposefully highlighted businesses that reflected trending new business ideas and paired them with relatable characters and witty scripts to stand out in our audience's feed. This fun, authentic approach was intended to be a breath of fresh that lifts the creative standard in the category and, most importantly, gets a new generation of business owners to consider QuickBooks.


We met our objectives with top performing videos from the campaign garnered over 200,000 views in the first month of being live.

In addition, we drove a 20% increase in traffic YoY.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Critical Mass, Intuit QuickBooks


Entry Credits