The Making of the (Small Business) Monsters

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Decent makes it possible for small businesses to afford health insurance for their employees and their families. But, we do much more — such as take care of the necessary-but-pesty HR and payroll work that shifts focus away from doing business. Red tape hold-ups, mounds of paperwork, and complex compliance issues are typical frustrations for small business owners who often manage the payroll and HR side on their own.

Decent personified these nuisances into six "monsters": Red Tape Worm, Paperwork Pest, BOOGYMANager, Nickel & Demon, Time Fritter Critter, and Bigfoot*Note. (You can read more about them here.)

Small businesses don't have a large HR team to fight these monsters like most large employers. That's where Decent can help. And that's where the idea for the Small Business Monster campaign was born.

Creative: Making the Monsters

The idea for the monsters was born from an internal brainstorm. Somehow a conversation about peanut butter and jelly (goes together like health benefits and payroll) turned into a discussion about juggling (like what small business owners constantly do), and then, well, monsters. They lurk and loom, these shadowy creatures of distraction. The proceeding ghoulish "characters" were quickly imagined.

And then there was the artwork stage. Decent's lead designer handmade each monster using relevant materials — red tape (Red Tape Worm), actual paperwork (Paperwork Pest), a burlap money bag (Nickel & Demon), and other items. 

Actual red tape was used for our favorite monster, the Red Tape Worm.
Bills, invoices, tax filings made up the materials for Paperwork Pest
The monsters were molded and photographed.

The Small Business Monster campaign was carried out across a series of offline and online advertising and other marketing and communications mediums, including billboard, radio, email, social media, and earned media. (We even had stickers!) Each custom creation was photographed for an authentic "monster look" for billboard and website assets. Illustrated and animated versions complemented other marketing pieces. The campaign's goal was to build a cohesive, holistic narrative across multiple channels that "speak to" the pains of our key customers — small business owners. Here's a sampling:

An example of our Houston billboard.
We even animated some! Here's Time Fritter Critter.
Halloween is one of the Small Business Monsters' favorite holidays.

How was the campaign received? So far, we've been honored with a couple of awards. Yet, while we love accolades, the best perspective is from our community. What did you think about the monsters? If you're a small business owner email us at

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