G&G launches first campaign for Backyard Axe Throwing League

The campaign lands as the agency names new heads of brand planning and client services.


As Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) looks to attract new visitors and grow its network of locations, the urban axe throwing company is running its first brand campaign, having recently named Giants & Gentlemen its first agency of record.

The integrated campaign positions axe throwing as an ideal group activity for people seeking an adrenaline rush without the actual dangers that come with participating in riskier activities, such as tightrope walking or standing atop a plane’s wing mid take-off. A series of posters portray these various, dangerous activities and propose a more sensible alternative: “Or you could just throw a damn axe.”

The campaign, whose tagline is “Extreme. Sorta,” is being led by Toronto creative shop Giants & Gentlemen, which was recently named BATL’s first agency of record.

Axe throwing induces an adrenaline rush, but the activity is safer than more extreme activities, such as skydiving or swimming with sharks, says Alanna Nathanson, G&G co-founder and CCO. “That insight is what led us to ‘Extreme. Sorta.’”

BATL-5In addition to the posters, assets are being used on the company’s social channels and in digital ads. An expanded brand platform is expected to launch later this year that includes a redesigned website and experiential activities aimed at driving engagement with new visitors and the growing community of axe-throwing enthusiasts, says BATL CEO Matt Wilson.

As the company looks to “begin building the global brand more formally,” Wilson says it needed an agency partner to help fine-tune the positioning. “BATL has always been a lifestyle brand for those who are closest to it and we want to bring that to the forefront. As we grow our retail presence across North America, we’re working toward developing an identity that precedes us.”

BATL was founded in Toronto in 2006 and has so far grown in popularity mainly through word of mouth and media coverage. Wilson says investing in marketing will help encourage more groups to try it out by explaining why it makes for a fun and accessible activity.

The new work from G&G comes as the agency adds more talent in strategy in response to recent client wins, such as Dr. Oetker (for which it recently launched a campaign), Tequila Tromba, Phillips Malt & Brewing and Global Pet Foods (for which it launched a campaign last April).

In November, the shop hired Doug Potwin to lead brand planning and recently promoted Steve Waugh to the role of VP and head of client services (he will also serve as the unofficial “chief culture officer”). Moreover, G&G has promoted Krista Blaylock to senior account director and Steven Kim to associate creative director.

Potwin previously led strategy groups at Ogilvy and Camp Jefferson. Going forward, G&G co-founder and CSO Gino Cantalini will lead business strategy and Potwin will lead brand strategy.