The Weird Box Emerges From Digital Signage Shadows

July 24, 2014 by Dave Haynes


CE labs has been a loyal Sixteen:Nine advertiser for at least a year now, providing playback and distribution gear, software and services in the digital signage space.

The Dallas-based company is very good at keeping marketing materials fresh, and I was intrigued by a new set of ads promoting something they’ve dubbed The Weird Box.

Naturally, I had to ask … The Weird Box???

It’s the internal creative team that creative directive Tony Smith established back in 2009 to handle CE labs’ website, marketing collateral and any and all creative initiatives. This team also handles content needs for digital signage customers as big as Costco Canada and Fred Meyer. The work includes creative, as well as asset acquisition, video encoding, content management and media deployment services.

Basically, says Smith, the Weird Box is a hybrid of an in-house creative division and an ad agency. Including myself, there is only four of us currently but we have managed to generate a decent amount of revenue and save CE labs quite a bit of money on design services. I like to keep the team small because being versatile allows us to compete against the larger creative agencies. We also have a great dynamic going within the group which encourages everyone to continue to deliver their “A” game.

The name “The Weird Box” came from constantly being referred to as “weird people” by my boss Ken Kaylor, the CEO of CE labs. The team and I have always worked in the same room, and at one point a very small room while construction was going on, so when coming with a name and identity for our creative group “The Weird Box” was formed as a reference to what we were labeled by our company as creatives and the fact that we had, at one time, worked in a very small room. 

Our main focus is on digital signage content, adds Smith. We repurpose content where we will take existing print collateral or website assets and animate them using After Effects. This is usually helpful for small to mid-sized business that are on a budget and don’t necessarily have the funds for a full production campaign. We also do custom-branded video campaigns in which we research a company and create unique content that fits their marketing plans. 

We also do PowerPoint Templates that we sell online to be used in digital signage applications. These have actually done surprisingly well. And as you can also see, we are pushing our HTML layout templates and services for digital menu boards. I’m a big believer that content will sell hardware so that’s why you are seeing that take the foreground of our advertising instead of the focus being on CE labs’ box. 

Finally, our main service is private programming for retail environments, primarily TV walls, where we serve as the central hub for managing and acquiring high-quality assets for programming, branding and encoding those same assets for playback on the designated digital signage appliances out in the field and management and deployment of said programming which is refreshed every week. 

Lots of software and integration companies have some semblance of a content team, but I’m not aware of many that have been doing it for years and have a creative director. Good to see.

I like the name.

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