A Look Back at Renaissance Award Success – Top Hat

By: Ben Butler

To prepare for this year’s upcoming award season, we’re taking a look back at some of our previous Renaissance Awards winners to see what made them successful, and what they’ve been up to since.


Campaign Name & Year 

“Will Work for Beer” – 2018


Top Hat — an award-winning design and marketing communications agency in Millvale.

Campaign Overview

As of April 2017 Top Hat had worked with 30 different industries, but something was missing: beer clients. So rather than waiting around hoping their luck would change, they decided to launch “Will Work for Beer.”

“Will Work for Beer” was a call to all craft breweries — Top Hat would do any communications project purely in exchange for beer for one brewery. Interested breweries had to send in a compelling presentation as to why they should select them as our partner.

The campaign resulted in a flood of media attention — from Hop Culture Magazine to Adweek — and word of mouth. It attracted brewery pitches from all over the United States, and even as far away as Brazil. Top Hat ultimately selected Lord Hobo Brewing Company, the country’s soon-to-be fastest growing regional craft brewery from Boston.

The campaign also went on to win (2) prestigious Silver Anvil Awards later that year.

What It Won

  • “Best in Show”
  • B2B Campaign
  • Reputation Management
  • New Products & Services Communications
  • Media Relations
  • Digital Campaign

Why it won

“Aaron (Top Hat creative director/partner) and I have always been pleasantly surprised by how much people love this campaign,” says Ben Butler, APR, founder of Top Hat.

“It was a relatively simple idea, but very disruptive for our space. Usually agencies kind of just wait for the new industry sectors to come to them. Any efforts otherwise tend to fall flat (pun intended).”

“Most of all, however, I think besides being a fun idea, we had tangible measurables that demonstrated to the judges just how successful our efforts were. We blew those out of the water, entered a brand new industry we’d never touched, and doubled our business within one year.”

Advice for Creating an Award-Winning Entry

“The judges want to know what you were trying to achieve with your campaign, and why that goal mattered at all,” says Butler. “For us, it was crystal clear — revenue-driving business development in a new sector that we aimed for and surpassed.”

“You also have to sell them on why your approach was a good idea. What research did you do? What hypothesis did you come to? Make that all crystal clear in a nicely formatted PDF, and you’ll be putting yourself in the best possible spot for success.”

What the agency/company is up to now

Since “Will Work for Beer,” Top Hat has gone on to work with 19 different beer brands including the iconic Pittsburgh Brewing Company. They recently launched the complete design identity and communications overhaul for Iron City Beer, I.C. Light, and I.C. Light Mango this summer.

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