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Dallas’ Plot Twist Creativity Lands Super Bowl Commercials With H-E-B and Coca-Cola

COO Dave Kroencke and CCO Chris Smith’s mantra of ‘less is more’ has led to a meteoric rise in just three years, including two commercials for Super Bowl LVIII.
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Plot Twist Creativity

Plot Twist Creativity is keenly aware that it is not the biggest or flashiest advertising agency on the scene, but principals Dave Kroencke and Chris Smith have used a simplistic approach to land some big wins, including Super Bowl commercials for H-E-B and Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages.

Plot Twist spun off from the Richards Group in 2021 and produced 255 spots in the first year. Kroencke, the chief operating officer, Chief Creative Officer Smith, and their team are building the company in a unique image.

The company’s success this year means it has had at least one commercial spot in every Super Bowl since its founding. For the two veterans with over 50 years of combined experience in putting commercials and Super Bowl spots together, Plot Twist aims to make things less complicated – leaving more room for the ideas to flow.

“One of our core philosophies that has served us well and is attractive to prospective clients is that we see ourselves as simplifiers, not complicators,” Kroencke says. “And that is super important to us. It permeates [throughout] our culture, how we work with clients, and how we solve problems. When you have to boil something down to a 30-second spot for the Super Bowl, it better be simple.”

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Dave Kroencke (left) and Chris Smith Plot Twist Creativity

Smith has helped create regional commercials for the big game with H-E-B for 15 years, dating back to his time with the Richards Group. The collaboration with H-E-B and Central Market was a natural fit as Plot Twist’s first client when the company launched. From there, the company grew its client list to include the likes of Children’s Health, James Avery, and Capital One, amongst others.

“H-E-B has been doing regional Super Bowl spots for many years,” Smith says. “What’s changed is that it used to be a surprise that they were on the Super Bowl. There was less pressure because being on the Super Bowl was an achievement in itself. But now they want to get as much attention and be as memorable as the Super Bowl spots that dwarf us in terms of star power and budget.”

Coca-Cola Southwest Beverages is the regional Coca-Cola bottler that handles distribution and manufacturing for all products in Texas and parts of Oklahoma. Based on their pitch, the company awarded Plot Twist a Super Bowl spot, giving the 20-person agency Super Bowl commercials for two clients over the last three years.

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Plot Twist Creativity

What made this year’s process for getting the Super Bowl commercial pitches unique was that the H-E-B spot was sold by the firm’s youngest team, Payton Lambert and Hanna Tinsio, both of whom are less than a year removed from college. Plot Twist embraces pairing those with young and fresh ideas with others who have been through the wringer.

“While there are always leaders and more senior people, we know that creativity comes from everywhere,” Kroencke says. “Especially on a Super Bowl assignment, we’re going to open that up to our entire creative team for great ideas… But we’re not a culture where we’re going to give the best assignments to the most senior people. We feel like those opportunities should be given to the entire team. In our case, this year shows, we’ve got one client that picks one from the most senior team and one from the most junior team. And that’s exactly why we do it.”

“If it’s working well, the two ends of the spectrum should reinforce each other,” Smith says. “So the more experienced people can mentor and guide the younger people on how they can make things work. But then the young people bring energy and a fresh perspective. I feed off of that, and you almost want the younger folks to take the lead sometimes because they’ll teach us old dogs new tricks.”

Kroencke and Smith took a risk by leaving a place they had been for decades and starting their own shop, but the rapid success has confirmed their leap of faith.

“I think there was some nervousness,” Kroencke says. “But between my 30-plus years and Chris’s 20-plus years of experience, there was a level of confidence that we knew what we were doing.”
“It wasn’t just our experience; we brought a whole team with us who we’ve been working with for decades in some cases,” Smith says. “We didn’t have to build a team from scratch–we already had a fantastic team. We had the team, and we had the clients. We just needed the email addresses and the infrastructure, which we quickly put together. And we haven’t looked back since.”

The culture and the brand that Kroencke and Smith have built stem from the idea of not overcomplicating things. Producing quality work and content by keeping things in their simplest form has driven the operation.

“In our business, doing great work attracts more attention, more referrals, and ultimately – more clients,” Kroencke says. “Between Chris and I, we’ve got the experience now to understand what that’s going to take–what kind of a client, what kind of brand, what kind of relationship and partnership.”
As for what’s next, the company is going to keep it simple and not force anything, Kroencke says.

“Where we can replicate and grow, that’s fine. But we’re not going to do it at the expense of not having a good partnership and being treated poorly. We’re happy with the size of the agency and the quality of work. If it grows, great. If it doesn’t – we’re okay with that too.”

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Layten Praytor

Layten Praytor

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