Raising Cane


Marketing Architects, primarily a creative and media agency, also launches and nurtures products, bringing them to the point at which they are recognized and respected brands. Along the way, the company scrutinizes data—big and small—to tailor product and pitch.

When the company first tested the HurryCane in 2011, it was considered a niche item by DRTV standards. But with older Americans starting to lose mobility and getting more comfortable with shopping online, the market was ready for a flexible, adjustable cane. “We couldn’t find a cane that had been marketed like this before,” says Chuck Hengel, CEO of the Minneapolis-based agency.

Marketing Architects went through an exhaustive research process, honing the product and its messaging. “We don’t just throw a spot out there and hope it works,” Hengel says. “We made significant changes to the product itself and started the rollout again.”

Online reviews helped tap the voice of the user, he adds. “Early on, we started to see that a lot of people were buying the product and giving it to Mom and Dad. We took that insight and developed a campaign targeting the caregiver. One buyer went on and on about how important the HurryCane was. She had had issues with mobility, and the HurryCane gave her the confidence to move around her house again. She said, ‘Honey, you’ve really got something here.’”

As distribution scaled up, Marketing Architects used surveys and big data to assess effectiveness and improve conversions. “It was definitely an analytically led project,” Hengel says. “We spent a lot of time determining the right way to track television. We can show the data on more than 20 different points of distribution, and can measure the impact of TV on changes in sales velocity.”

Today, the HurryCane is the No. 1 cane in America, with distribution at mass retail outlets such as Walmart, Walgreens, Amazon, and thousands of small medical equipment shops and pharmacies. Marketing Architects still manages the brand’s media and creative, but recently sold HurryCane—backed by tremendous awareness—to Drive Medical.

“We’re a 100-percent direct response-driven brand,” Hengel says. “We didn’t do anything we couldn’t measure. Even when we’ve advanced word-of-mouth, we’ve done it scientifically. We look at all the touchpoints including consumer advertising and make sure we behave in a way that is consistent with building brands.”