Pastrami and why: Bay Area shop Division of Labor sells insights and ads like cold cuts

The agency was inspired by Manny's Deli in Chicago, which asked customers on Twitter not to forget the Windy City institution.

Bay Area boutique agency Division of Labor is taking a recipe from the deli business for how to package and price its services.

A July 14 tweet from Manny’s Deli, a Chicago mainstay for 75 years, beseeched customers to not forget the local institution amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are struggling. This isn’t a joke. Support your fav deli for dinner tonight. Thx," the deli tweeted. Chicagoans lined up around the block, and local media covered the news.


Windy City native and agency founder and chief creative director Josh Denberg took a cue from Manny’s and put out a similar tweet for his agency. He posted a new, a la carte menu of services on his website, selling social media packages, out-of-home campaigns and branding.

"I thought this could be a funny way to introduce this new offering we have where we are treating advertising services like a deli order off-the-board," said Denberg. "You want a ‘Larry David?’ It comes with this, this and this."

It’s a sign of the times as clients put off campaigns to size up new market realities. The menu also hints at a more project-based future in which retainers and media mark-ups, the gold standard of client-agency relationships, continue to wane. The reality is that digital marketing, performance marketing and other click-through sales paradigms are increasing interest in transactional pricing, particularly by smaller companies and startups that don’t have the budgets or time to nurture agency relationships.

Division of Labor’s "pandemic pivot" features a social campaign for $9,950, which includes two to three campaign ideas, followed by two rounds of revisions, stock photos and graphics included, extra for original photography and artwork.

Similarly, the Sausalito, California-based agency is offering a digital campaign package at $11,450 and an outdoor campaign for $10,700.

‘We have been in business for 10 years, running things in traditional ways," said Denberg about the agency, whose clients include the San Jose Sharks, Cloudflare and Lively, a health savings account. "We still do pitches, we do projects, we get clients, get retainers, but given what is going on with the pandemic...smaller clients can keep us busy."

And, he joked, "It is drastically less expensive if everyone behaves and we are done in three rounds."

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