Smartsheet visits where great ideas go in new creative

(Courtesy JMS)

Where do abandoned ideas go, and why do they go there? Smartsheet offers the surprising answer in a playful new campaign, created by creative & strategic brand firm John McNeil Studio (JMS).

Long used as an effective solution for project management, Smartsheet found itself losing ground to a slew of cheap and colorful competitors. Looking to reassert their superiority in a suddenly crowded category, Smartsheet turned to JMS, who created a campaign that not only differentiated Smartsheet from the pack, but helped them learn more about the unique needs of project managers in an evolving workplace.

The campaign, a multi-faceted program that leads with high-level video and social media assets, is extended and supported by rich interactive media that engages the audience in learning about their own powers of process. The campaign demonstrates why Smartsheet’s dynamic suite of capabilities for businesses supercharges management processes and enables any business to make their best ideas a reality.

The central spot shows this concept in action, taking us through the massive warehouse of lost ideas – ranging from early electric cars to a misplaced UFO – that becomes a visual metaphor for the countless big plans and grand business schemes lost because of lack of collaboration, a sea of pointless meetings and no action.

While the tour guide revels in these poor outcomes, his guest, representing Smartsheet, has a better way forward. With Smartsheet, managers easily build the right process to make any idea come to life—making the warehouse obsolete and a great place for the company pickleball court. Watch below:


“In thinking about the importance of process, we started wondering what happens to projects that don’t have the right one in place,” explains studio Founder/CEO, John McNeil.

“And that led to the idea of a giant warehouse of failed projects – the place where great ideas go to die.” Doug Green, JMS Group Creative Director adds, “It spoke to a truth we all can relate to: the best way to keep your good ideas on the right track, and out of the warehouse, is to build the right process with Smartsheet.“

From a strategic perspective, JMS began by focusing on Smartsheet’s unique flexibility in building processes, the core of what project managers do — the scheduling, resourcing, and workflows that bring people together, get them working and ensure they achieve results.

“We came up with an interesting motif to represent the power of process – an interchangeable design system of moving geometric parts,” adds JMS Co-Executive Creative Director Gerald Lewis. “It conveyed the process of ideas taking shape.” Further strengthening their link to project managers, JMS worked with Smartsheet to turn a research study into a lively interactive quiz designed to drive better insights about how customers currently use Smartsheet while educating them about its capabilities.

“Some managers start with organization while others work back from the due date. Some are focused on collaboration and communication. Others may be more intent on establishing their leadership,” said McNeil. “So, we created a quiz to identify each person’s particular strength,“ adds Green. “We renamed these traits the ‘Powers of Process’ and created a series of custom illustrations for each power. Then we created a series of social posts, animations, and a video leveraging this art to draw people to take the quiz and learn more about Smartsheet.”

This latest work marks another close collaboration between Smartsheet and JMS, following a recent campaign announcing the launch of their new offering, Smartsheet Advance. As longtime partners, the Smartsheet team was totally supportive and pushed JMS to make the videos as entertaining as possible in order to stand out in what was becoming a crowded field of competitors.

“This campaign represents what JMS does best,” notes McNeil. “Strong strategic thinking that finds the intersection of category truth and product differentiation, then bringing that insight to life with powerful creative that memorably taps into the psyche of our audience. Everyone has had a great idea that died because of a bad process or no process at all – and no one wants to see their hard work disappear without a trace. To be able to expand on this idea by not just creating a film, but branching the theme into countless other mediums and tactics, shows the power and depth of what we bring to partners like Smartsheet, over more traditional agency approaches.”

The spot is complemented by a series of videos for YouTube, Instagram Stories and Reels, as well as audio and static ads  – all unified by a consistent creative theme.


CLIENT: Smartsheet

BRAND FIRM: John McNeil Studio  

  • Chief Strategy Officer: John McNeil
  • Executive Director, Brand Strategy: Sonia Minden
  • Co-ECD, Art Director: Gerald Lewis
  • Group Creative Director, Writer: Doug Green
  • Associate Creative Director/Art Director: Mike Pearson
  • Associate Creative Director/Writer: Justin Miller


  • Director/DP: John McNeil
  • Executive Producer: Katy Hallowell
  • Senior Producer: Paul Grimshaw
  • Production Designer: Dwane Platt
  • Wardrobe Stylist: Suchandra Bullock
  • Editor: Stephen Berger
  • Composer: Steven Emerson
  • VFX Supervisor: Craig Hayes
  • Colorist: Josh Blackman
  • Sound Mixer: Stephen Thorpe

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