Hard Rock
Work that earned top prize in the global Rebrand 100 competition, awarded for the combination of creative and strategy, and helped turn around a brand that turned rock stars into raving fans.

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After 30 years, a half-dozen leaders and two or three owners, the venerable rock ’n’ roll brand had become fundamentally rudderless. The agency’s marching orders, as delivered by the new ceo and cmo: rebuild the rudder. Hence, the “Word” book, which clarified the spirit of the brand, as well as day-to-day particulars, and relaunched Hard Rock.


When the project began, there was a dizzying proliferation of logos — including a Halloween pumpkin variant — that added to the image of a brand adrift. But even the permanent logos had never been refined since their 1971 invention. And there was no mark that represented the company itself – the idea, really — separate from a cafe, hotel or casino property.


As the brand expanded to 50+ countries, a big problem became quickly communicating the concept of a rock ’n’ roll restaurant in dozens of languages. The solution was the universal symbology of rock ’n’ roll itself. The fork can be found on bus shelters, chef’s jackets, collectible pins, outdoor boards and every other conceivable place around the globe.

The DC team attacked the marketing issues — from menu design to commercials to website — while the client's team attacked product issues, dramatically upgrading the ingredients and preparation of the food. But past experience had soured some customers. How to show the newly fresh and freshly made menu items without surrendering the brand’s reinvigorated rock edge?

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Getting back in touch with the brand’s illustrious rock roots also entailed getting in touch with contemporary rock, in part through a magazine that was bound into popular music pubs and distributed free at cafes and hotels and in its design, production values and surprising editorial choices said as much about the brand as anything. The magazine was complemented by a microsite.

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With 70,000 wildly diverse, museum-quality objects, the memorabilia collection is all real and second to none. But in the wake of imitators, consumers came to believe it was full of replicas. As the foundation of the brand’s authenticity, it was imperative to give the audience context for the collection and a readily accessible closeup. This was the basis of a multiplatform digital initiative that let the world interact with the memorabilia, via the web and via digital kiosks, walls and tables at every location.


Over eight years, the advertising has evolved. This See the Show campaign sought to capture the fresh energy that now ensured that every revamped cafe or hotel was much more than just a place to eat or sleep, that it was a complete experience, a show — whether anyone’s on a stage or not.


Tobacco flavors that seem fun and vaping devices that look like tech gadgets have led teens, and even parents, to underestimate the damage of nicotine. Most people know it’s addictive. But addiction is only the beginning. Nicotine is a neurotoxin whose changes to the teen brain could be permanent. And that’s what our campaign sets out to communicate.

DC’s thrilled to announce that Gary Stein joins us today as our first chief integration officer. He’s here to accelerate collaboration between our strategy, media and expanded creative team, which now includes experiential and influencer experts thanks to our recent acquisition of A2G.

Rakuten is back with the latest installment of the “Power of R” campaign, this time featuring a relatively well-known professional basketball player. Poised to continue the brand’s successful awareness-building, watch for the commercials all up and down your TV dial and across the digital universe.