Creative Campaign for Detroit Small Businesses has recently launched our very first TV commercials – telling the stories of small businesses in Detroit. The spots document our journey during the Detroit Hackathon we’ve held with Rebrand Cities to partner with local small businesses to work on their websites. It was an invaluable opportunity for the Automattic team to learn about their daily challenges and successes.

We had the opportunity to collaborate with our filmmaking partners, Culture of Creativity (C8), and produce a series of videos for broadcast and digital mediums. You can read more about them in our recent interview on

Watch Kay’s story (:30)

With a condensed timeline, an all remote team and an external partner, communication was key. Both parties kept in close contact via our P2-themed blog, and the occasional Zoom calls, which made the whole creative development process transparent and easily searchable. It also allowed our global team and C8, who was in Japan at the time of the project, to collaborate asynchronously.

Designing for Video

For the motion graphics elements in the series, we’ve created 20+ pieces in-house, including intro animations, lower thirds and logo end tags animation. We wanted to design elements that are simple and elegant to complement the authentic, documentary style of these videos.

I’d like to dig in deeper in the design process of the logo end tag:

We wanted to show our logo prominently, with our three value propositions below it. When I started animating it, I thought it made a lot of sense to animate the value propositions from the middle – with “Blogs” being our roots, then evolving and expanding our offerings into “Websites” and “Domains.”


Since I was asked to show them how to attain the smoothness of the sliding animation for the value propositions, here’s a quick Adobe After Effects tip:

Sometimes the standard AE easing functions (easy ease, ease in/out) just isn’t enough. To have full control of the easing curves, make sure to use the “Separate Dimensions” option on your position/scale values. 


Extending Beyond Video

To further extend the broadcast launch of these Detroit videos, we’ve also designed a digital display and social campaign around our featured business owners to promote our small business website offerings:

We’ve also developed a custom landing page for the campaign to ensure all digital touchpoints are consistent, which helps to further the storytelling.

That was a little bit of behind-the-scenes look at of our creative campaign featuring Detroit small businesses. Thank you for reading!

Special thanks to my fellow colleagues who were radically candid with me in the creative process: John Maeda, Joan Rho and the rest of the marketing team.


Below are a couple other of my favorite videos from the series:

Mikiah’s story. (:30)

The short film that started it all. (2:40)

Watch them all with our YouTube playlist!


By Ballio Chan

Creative Director - Marketing @Automattic | Creative | Brand |
Connecting the dots between design and technology.