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Elements of Success: 20 Smash Hits Through the Years

To celebrate 20 years in business, we’re looking back at 20 standout projects that helped shape our identity, showcased our passion, and propelled us forward. Lively brainstorming sessions, an occasional late night (or two), and a never-empty beer fridge are just a few of the things that fueled our team as they turned challenges into triumph and visions into reality.   

For two decades, we’ve been on a winding journey, weaving creativity, strategy, and innovation together to deliver our clients’ goals. We worked on global brands, local businesses, and everything in between, producing work that resonates with audiences, stands out from the clutter, and boosts our clients’ bottom lines. 

Our agency’s story is not just about numbers and years; it’s also about our team members who dedicate their talents to pushing the boundaries, reaching beyond good to achieve great, and stepping outside of their comfort zones to challenge the status quo. And it’s about our clients. None of these projects would have been possible had they not entrusted us with their beloved brands and vivacious visions. 

Join us as we turn back the pages of time and dive into some of our favorite projects. 

Oh Snap! Product Launch  

Challenge: GLK Foods was launching Oh Snap!, a convenient new pickle snack that needed to build brand awareness in order to drive retail sales. 

Solution: We took our creativity where no pickle (or agency) has gone before with an out-of-this-world integrated product launch campaign. We even tried to send a pickle into outer space. 

Result: The campaign helped secure distribution at Target, paving the way for Oh Snap! to be picked up by most major retailers.  

oh snap pickles food packaging portfolio example

Saranac & adidas Football Catalog  

Challenge: The client wanted to create excitement with buyers, showcasing the new product line of adidas football gloves for the upcoming season.  

Solution: We huddled up the team and designed a catalog that highlighted product features and provided increased accessibility with both digital and print versions. 

Result: The catalog was used during in-person and virtual sales meetings to secure product buys with Dick’s Sporting Goods and Champs Sports.  

saranac and adidas football catalog graphic design portfolio

Legit Pizza Brand  

Challenge: Pep’s Pizza was introducing a parlor-style frozen pizza to the market and looking to develop an elevated brand that stood out in the freezer case.  

Solution: We created the brand LegitTM, the perfect choice for at-home pizza fanatics who crave stone-baked, cracker-thin crust and bold toppings. Mouthwatering photography displayed on a stark white package inspired by a restaurant pizza box makes consumers feel like they just stepped out of their local pizza joint.  

Result: This premium frozen pizza brand has earned shelf space in key retailers such as Woodman’s, Skogen’s Festival Foods, and Lunds & Byerlys.  

legit pizza packaging design example for portfolio

Berres Brothers Flavor Factory Video  

Challenge: Berres Brothers was seeking ways to expand their appeal to a younger demographic while leveraging their unique differentiator, flavor variety.  

Solution: We brewed up Flavor Factory, an engaging campaign featuring CGI to create an innovative, dimensional experience that imaginatively highlights Berres Brothers’ endless flavor concoctions.  

Result: Flavor Factory drove website traffic, captured new customers, and increased social engagement.

Nicolet Bank Colorful Collages  

Challenge: Nicolet Bank, a community bank built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, needed a unique way to communicate their passion for shared success and stand out in the sea of sameness.  

Solution: Custom, dimensional collages featuring local landscapes and industries Nicolet supports throughout Wisconsin and Upper Michigan offered a distinct, multipurpose solution designed to break through the clutter. 

Result: The collages garnered attention in business publications, on social media, and eventually ended up as beautiful, framed artwork in their local branches.  

nicolet bank custom paper collage art for portfolio

Menasha Packaging Brand Campaign 

Challenge: Menasha needed a brand campaign to communicate its new position in the marketplace as an end-to-end packaging and supply chain solutions provider.  

Solution: Element dreamed up “Unlimited,” a campaign that visually referenced Menasha’s corrugated box roots but focused on going beyond in a world where anything imaginable is possible. 

Result: This concept became the cornerstone of a multiyear marketing strategy that leveraged 3D-mailers, magazine covers, digital marketing tactics, trade show booth graphics, and more.  

branding campaign for corrugated packaging company for portfolio

Solarus: We’re a Different Animal Campaign 

Challenge: Looking to overcome perception issues and low brand awareness, Solarus was willing to push the envelope to communicate their products and services no other communications company could offer.  

Solution: We created a long-lasting brand position, “We’re a Different Animal,” that differentiated Solarus from all other communications providers while creating demand for their high-value product sets.  

Result: The campaign was executed across multiple mediums, creating a cohesive and catchy message that improved brand recall and awareness which helped gain new customers. 

brand awareness campaign creative for communications provider solarus

Crescent Bronze    

Challenge: At the height of faux-finishing, Crescent Bronze collaborated with Sherwin Williams and needed to carve out a niche within a saturated industry.  

Solution: By leveraging influencers (before they were even known as influencers) to demonstrate new painting techniques via YouTube, we amplified the video content through social media, paid digital campaigns, and online forums to position Crescent Bronze as a thought leader and build preference for their unique metallic paint product among industry professionals.  

Result: The integrated effort generated more than 300,000 views and increased online sales dramatically.

early influencer campaign for crescent bronze

Amtrak Commuter Campaign  

Challenge: Amtrak was seeking a creative way to increase awareness and ridership of the commuter train between Milwaukee and Chicago.  

Solution: The strategy focused on converting the audience’s pain points into solutions—space without parking, jam without traffic, arrival without delay—all emphasizing the ease of using Amtrak.  

Result: The Hiawatha line set new ridership records for 26 months following the launch of the campaign. (Did you catch the familiar face in the ad?) 

commuter campaign portfolio example for amtrak

Grass Run Farms Experience Nature’s Goodness® Event 

Challenge: In an effort to gain national distribution, increase production capacity, and capture U.S. market share, the American grass fed beef brand needed to educate retailers, foodservice operators, and distributors on their key product differentiators.  

Solution: We launched a two-day, in-person, farm-to-fork relationship-building experience for B2B customers to learn why they should offer grass fed beef to their consumers. The event featured multiple activities and touchpoints that created a memorable and engaging experience for all attendees.

Result: This multiyear event has educated over 500 retailers, foodservice operators, distributors, and industry professionals about American grass fed beef supply and demand. This format laid the foundation and framework for future JBS educational customer experiences.  

grass run farms natures goodness b2b farming event example

Central Holiday Promotion  

Challenge: To prepare for the upcoming holiday season, the client was looking for ways to combat the growing electronic toy industry by encouraging small animal pet products.  

Solution: The “No Batteries Required” campaign took subtle jabs at electronic gadgetry while promoting the joys of small animal pet ownership. The campaign was centered around an animated video that leveraged Cheap Trick’s hit song “I Want You to Want Me.” Always looking to maximize budgets, the song was reproduced by a talented Elemental to greatly reduce licensing fees.  

Result: The campaign generated more attention than anticipated … and we mean A LOT more. So much so that the campaign was turned off early.  

clever campaign example for pet products company central avian

Arise Health Plan: We Are From Around Here Campaign  

Challenge: Well-known in the Madison market, WPS Insurance Company needed to differentiate their brand from the established Wisconsin Public Service in Northeast Wisconsin. 

Solution: To eliminate confusion, we rebranded the newly formed WPS Prevea Health Insurance to Arise Heath Plan with a multiphase campaign, ending with a unique execution that highlighted their hometown roots, which was their core differentiator.  

Result: The creatively crafted messages, amplified with mass media, captured the attention of current and new members allowing Arise Health Plan to stabilize and grow their business through the acquisition and branding transition.  

local business rebranding example with arise health plan

Fresh-Lock PACK EXPO: Freshville   

Challenge: To create a show-stopping, qualified-lead-attracting booth space at the industry’s largest trade show that connected Fresh-Lock innovations with consumer needs.  

Solution: We built Freshville, which proved to be the perfect setting to explore various consumer desires, easily illustrating the benefits of switching to flexible packaging solutions.  

Result: Quickly becoming the talk of the town, the booth’s creative execution enabled the sales team to easily highlight multiple product applications for a variety of industries in a memorable way.  

fresh-lock packaging booth design for trade show pack expo

Belmark Employee Development Program  

Challenge: Develop a retention strategy to keep employees engaged and informed about growth opportunities available within the organization.  

Solution: We created Ascend, a program that enhanced the employee experience by providing educational materials about the role of each department, along with information about career advancement tracks. 

Result: The program elevated employee perception of Belmark, creating loyalty and opening dialogue about building long-term careers with the organization.  

employee retention strategy for packaging company belmark

Beefitarian’s Burgers & Beats Contest 

Challenge: To create and launch a category brand that unites beef lovers and celebrates their love for the protein. 

Solution: In addition to becoming the title sponsor of Nashville Burger Week to build awareness, we enlisted the help of local influencers to develop and share original burger recipes showcasing a variety of beef cuts. Once this content was published on various social channels, we executed a “Burgers & Beats Challenge” encouraging beef lovers to go to the Beefitarian website and vote for their favorite. Each vote generated a donation to feed those in need in the Nashville community.

Result: In addition to building their social media audience and engagement, we generated more than 40k pageviews and outpaced the nation in beef sales by 6% during the 8-week campaign.  

event sponsorship and influencer strategy example for client beefitarian

Drive Sober App  

Challenge: Work with the Department of Transportation to help decrease the number of drunk drivers on Wisconsin roads.  

Solution: As part of the “Zero in Wisconsin” traffic safety campaign, we created the Drive Sober app to encourage individuals who may have had too much to drink to find a safe ride home. It also educated users about the dangers of impaired driving with interactive tools like impairment goggles that showed the physical effects of increased alcohol levels.  

Result: With more than 75,000 Wisconsin users, the app was implemented in additional markets (including New York) and won the Best Highway Safety App in the Country award by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO).  

view of drive sober app for the wisconsin department of transportation

PhycoTerra® Crop Tool 

Challenge: PhycoTerra®, a family of agricultural products promoting soil health, wanted to share impactful data in a consumable format for both growing sales and benefiting customers.  

Solution: In collaboration with the client, Element developed a custom online tool that provided instant access to data allowing users to sort information and ultimately build dashboards that filter trials by year, application, crop, product, and more.  

Result: PhycoTerra was able to abandon time-consuming efforts of updating PDFs and PowerPoint presentations that were instantly dated in favor of this real-time tool and provide a better experience for sales teams, customers, and farmers alike.   

interactive crop tool for agriculture clients website phycoterra

TDS Internal Sales App  

Challenge: TDS was seeking ways to streamline their sales process, and ensure impactful messaging was consistently delivered. 

Solution: We developed an iPad app that compiled sales literature and interfaced with their internal databases to provide a professional and convenient sales experience for B2B prospects.  

Result: We reduced the sales process from nine meetings down to two, increasing the overall sales’ close rate. 

internal ipad app for client sales team that improved efficiency

Minnesota Energy Resources Gas Smart Program  

Challenge: The client was seeking additional avenues to promote natural gas conservation and distribute coupons for free water conservation kits.  

Solution: We developed a program called Gas Smart which consisted of lesson plans for grades 1-4 that educated students on the importance of conserving natural gas, a precious and limited natural resource. Upon completion of the lesson plans and activities, students were awarded with a coupon for a free hot water conservation kit. 

Result: We engaged customers in hard-to-reach geographic markets and distributed kits to achieve the client’s corporate natural gas savings goals. 

coupon distribution solution for energy client minnesota energy resources

Shopko Optical Eye Spy Event  

Challenge: Shopko Optical was on a mission to increase access to eyecare and emphasize the importance of eye health. 

Solution: We leveraged the client’s partnership with the Green Bay Packers to elevate awareness about the importance of preventive eye care for both parents and kids with Eye Spy Scavenger Hunts throughout various local markets, eventually leading them to area clinics where they could schedule a comprehensive eye exam and enter a drawing for a Packers Family Night prize package.  

Result: The event generated so much participation it has become an annual effort that not only leads to new appointments but continues to activate their Packers sponsorship in an impactful way.  

awareness campaign partnership with green bay packers for client shopko optical

We’re Ready for the Next 20 Smash Hits 

As we reflect on the past 20 years, one thing hasn’t changed: our collaborative approach to creating great work that boosts the bottom line. We want to thank our clients, partners, and vendors who have contributed to our success—without them, we couldn’t do what we do. Cheers to the next 20 years! 

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