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We Are Top 20

May 11, 2017

We are top 20 most promising digital solution providers for 2017.

Each year, CIOReview Magazine assembles a panel of tech-savvy CEOs, CIOs, VCs and analysts to take a close look at where up-and-coming digital agencies are headed. Their work leads up to a Digital Marketing special issue showcasing 2017’s Top 20 Most-Promising Digital Marketers.

Aisle Rocket Studios is on the hotlist. Why? It’s simple…

For starters, we run like a lean startup that begins every day like its first.

It’s an exercise that takes constant head-checks and discipline — to approach every question-answer-decision-solution as completely new. It’s like a self-inflicted version of the movie <em>Groundhog Day </em>that keeps us working as a seamless, effective extension of our clients’ marketing teams, because…

We’re not advertisers. We’re builders.

We build experiences that move people. It’s no longer necessary to disrupt someone’s experience to sneak in an ad. What is vital is to take those great ideas, deliver them via a really, really…really customizable platform and drive it all with data — then adapt and never stop. It’s a sustainable ecosystem that can evolve at the speed of business. And it’s what our clients need and deserve.

We’re not technologists. We’re shopologists.

Any digital agency can execute a CRM, build a nice app or launch a digital campaign. Our team has carved out a niche focusing on how people make purchase decisions. Neuromarketing is a fun way to think of it. Segmentation, automation, creativity, algorithms, data mining, human intuition — our goal is to map the customer decision journey, one micro-moment at a time.

We use our common sense.

We don’t let knowledge weigh down our wisdom. And Rocket Labs is how we feed ourselves. It’s an ongoing program open to the entire agency, where uncommon ideas are encouraged, pitched, supported and explored. Several initiatives are always in play with others being field tested in partnership with our clients. Think language-learning BOTs, mixed reality, cloud-enabled virtual reality experiences — but also new ideas in process and workflow — plus proprietary ideas that we’re excited to say we can’t discuss (yet).

We’ll always be powered by the people.

Human capital might feel a little awkward to say, but it’s not wrong. Every business knows how integral the role of people is in its success. More than 250 strong, our team is an eclectic bunch of restless, strategic, curious, quirky, logical, funny, practical rocketeers that bends the limits of any org chart. And that’s just the way we love it. At ARS, people are 99%, if not 100%, of our value. We believe that basic human intuition is the highest form of intelligence.

We call it Rocket Science.

“We are in the client-intimacy business. Our clients see us as an extension of their team. We are their growth hackers and relentless problem solvers…”
-Kashif Zaman, Chief Digital Officer

To see why Kashif believes that the industry is looking for digital solution providers like us, read the cover story in the Marketing Special Edition 2017.

Craftsman Smart Lawn Wins at 2017 Edison Awards

April 21, 2017

We’re proud-jazzed-honored-humbled-pumped…The Craftsman Smart Lawn™ Connect Kit just won Bronze at the prestigious 2017 Edison Awards.

Partnered with the iconic American tool brand, Aisle Rocket Studios built the Smart Lawn Platform and smartphone app around Craftsman’s new Bluetooth-enabled mowers.

This project allowed us to showcase a philosophy and process over which we’re nothing short of obsessive.

What is it? Tracking, reminders and fast-answers that make maintenance easy — plus weather, daylight tracking and more to mow smarter.

All so Craftsman owners can focus on keeping the best yard on the block.

2017 Edison Awards
The awesome part? This project allowed us to showcase a philosophy and process over which we’re nothing short of obsessive. That means designing the experience of owning a Craftsman versus buying a tractor. And creating relationships over a product lifecycle instead of just “selling a thing.”

And this recognition is a great thank you for the hard work.

Learn more about Craftsman Smart Lawn here.

ARS Helps Caesarstone® Make a Virtual Splash at KBIS 2017

February 20, 2017
Caesarstone KBIS 2017 Booth

Caesarstone KBIS 2017 Booth


The future is here. And it has arrived in the form of a black, beetle-eyed headset. Seriously. This fully immersive virtual reality (VR) experience practically screams The Matrix. Users put on the headset and then step into a kitchen so real, so homey, they’re compelled to put on a kettle for tea, pluck an apple from the fruit bowl and read the paper that’s waiting on the counter.

This isn’t fantasy; this is reality. A reality that made its debut with Caesarstone quartz surfaces at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

KBIS is the destination for industry professionals annually showcasing the latest in products, trends and technologies. The event provides an unparalleled opportunity to network and see what’s new. This year, nearly 600 leading brands exhibited, and hundreds of designers, builders, dealers and suppliers descended on Orlando, FL for the mega event in January. No wonder Caesarstone wanted to make a big (back)splash.

ARS, Caesarstone Contemporary VR Kitchen

ARS, Caesarstone Contemporary Virtual Kitchen

From Real to Virtual

Luckily, ARS was ahead of the curve. We believe in investing in innovation and had been experimenting with what VR could do. When we showed Caesarstone our prototype, they were thrilled to bring it to KBIS.

So what, exactly, did our creative team envision? Two virtual kitchens. Show attendees would be able to not only move around within the environments, but switch out the countertops and backsplashes, mixing and matching the show’s featured surfaces: White Attica, Georgian Bluffs, Noble Grey, Statuario Nuvo, and Sleek Concrete.

Our team had just one month to turn the prototype into a complete, polished experience, a feat of sci-fi proportions. But we worked diligently, leveraging our knowledge of 3-D, set design and photography to make the virtual environments as highly realistic as possible. The process was tedious and intricate, requiring just the right shades, nuance and depth to mimic real life — but the creative team made it happen.

“This is just the first generation, and we’ve been able to push the visual experience to be authentically immersive,” said VP, Creative Director Renee Martin. “And that’s pretty gratifying.”

ARS, Caesarstone Traditional VR Kitchen

ARS, Caesarstone Traditional Virtual Kitchen

Kitchen 360°

Our tech brainchild addresses a considerable pain point for dealers and customers. The kitchen is the heart of the home — and its focal point is the countertops. They’re a critical concern in a redesign project and inform the rest of a customer’s aesthetic choices. As high-investment products, they’re worth getting right.  

Small, square color samples are helpful but ultimately ineffective in allowing the customer to imagine what the countertops will actually look like. It’s like zooming into a painting and cutting out a swatch of it — what happened to the big picture?

But with virtual reality, you get a 360° view. With ARS’s creation, you can see what Caesarstone’s surfaces look and (perhaps more importantly) feel like in a real kitchen — from all angles, in fine detail. You don’t have to imagine your new kitchen design anymore. You can see it, walk around in it, decide whether White Attica really feels like home.

Account Director Erin Taylor Guides Show Attendee Through VR Experience

Account Director Erin Taylor Guides Show Attendee Through VR Experience

This Booth’s Got Buzz

Caesarstone’s KBIS booth was already inviting with its polished kitchen setups, innovative Transform displays, adult coloring book station, and coffee, wine and dessert bar, but VR was where it was at. Show attendees were initially hesitant to try on the bug-like headset and timid to interact with the virtual environment. But as soon as they saw how easy, effective and strangely addictive it was, word started to spread.

Soon everybody wanted to try it. Small crowds formed, and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Dealers couldn’t wait to use it; customers wished they’d had it when redesigning their kitchens. Everyone was struck by what a natural fit interior design and VR are.

Caesarstone was pleased with the show’s success and the hot buzz surrounding their countertops. We look forward to expanding and refining the technology, putting it on showroom floors and ultimately allowing customers to overlay Caesarstone surfaces in a virtual replica of their own kitchen.

As our VP of Digital and Omnichannel Kashif Zaman put it, “We’re just scratching the surface of a completely new dimension of storytelling, and we are really excited about the possibilities.”

Welcome to the new reality.

*We want to give a shout out to the creative team who lent their talent and hard work to this project and made it a (virtual) reality. Senior Front-End Developer Nam Pham, Associate Design Director Erin Pine-Moore and Account Directors Erin Taylor and Megan Cook, you rocked it. We’re over the moon.

If you’d like us to help you brainstorm some of the ways VR could play a role in the future of your business, give us a buzz.

Crowds Form at Caesarstone KBIS Booth

Crowds Form at Caesarstone KBIS Booth

Staff Picks: 5 Favorite 2015 Super Bowl Ads

February 02, 2015

Some people watch the Super Bowl for the football. Others watch for the halftime show. And then there are those of us who tune in for the advertisements. (Hey, we’re marketers. That’s just how we roll!) We asked our ARS blog contributors to watch the Super Bowl ads from a consumer’s perspective and then choose a favorite. Check out what our Rocketeers had to say about their favorite Super Bowl commercials below:


Alex’s Pick: TurboTax’s “Boston Tea Party”

Honestly, I thought anything with a puppy or kitten would automatically win out as my favorite Super Bowl commercial of the night. But it turns out the real MVP for me came from TurboTax, with a funny, yet bizarre period piece. This spot starts out with the (very dramatized) events of the Boston Tea Party, with colonials rebelling and fighting redcoat British soldiers. Suddenly, the course of history is halted and rerouted by the British offering free tax preparation. Immediately everything is hunky-dory. I actually laughed out loud at the colonial woman removing her bayonet from a redcoat with just a simple shrug, wave and apology, as well as seeing Washington reverse his infamous crossing of the Delaware. This ad didn’t need to focus on inside jokes or current fads, but weaved together its own humorous version of history with the exact product it’s promoting. There’s no question about the message of free tax prep, or how easy it makes life once you’ve got it. Honorable Mentions go to: Avocados from Mexico, seeing Lindsay Lohan behind the wheel in an Esurance commercial, and the super awkward Loctite Glue, which got me googling just who the company was.


Emily’s Pick: Always’ “#LikeAGirl”

The only ad to get a cheer from our Super Bowl party, “#LikeAGirl” has to be my favorite, mostly for its unexpected placement among a sea of ads targeted to men (dads in particular this year, it seemed). It brought to mind last year’s Little League World Series starring pitcher Mo’ne Davis. Why should throwing like a girl still be considered an insult when girls display talent like that every day?


Jason’s Pick: Loctite Glue’s “Positive Feelings”

There were a number of really good ads this year. From Fiat’s Viagra-themed commercial to that hilarious avocado ad, agencies brought their A game to the Super Bowl this year. But if I must pick a favorite, I’d have to say it’s Loctite’s. Maybe it was the beer or the chicken wings or some combination of the two, but when the Loctite commercial aired, I was mesmerized. I immediately wanted to see it again. That’s not something that we usually expect from advertisements. Apparently Loctite hadn’t gotten the memo that the theme for this year’s commercials was dark and depressing. And thank goodness for that! The ad was fun and cheerful, and they even worked in a few product shots. And it finally put to rest the question of what Urkel is up to these days.


Leah’s Pick: Coca-Cola’s “#MakeItHappy”

If the video that “Like a Girl” was based on hadn’t been circulating for months now, my favorite ad of the night would have been from Always. But since I’d already laughed, cried and tweeted about it, I figured I should pick one that was new to me. So my favorite ad of the night was from Coca-Cola. No surprise there. This time they took on cyberbullying, which could have gone wrong in so many ways. People are mean, yes, especially when they’re anonymous. But the world can be a little nicer with Coca-Cola. Essentially, Coke turns hostile statements like, “No one likes U,” into compliments like, “There’s no one like U.” It’s a simple idea, but so brilliantly executed. As a consumer, it made me smile. As a marketer, I was proud of Coca-Cola for taking on something serious such as cyberbullying, and instead of using scare tactics (cough … Nationwide), the company addressed it in a meaningful, heartfelt way. YOU ROCKED IT, COCA-COLA!


Marie’s Pick: Bud Light’s “#UpForWhatever”

Bud Light’s “Up for Whatever” commercial scored some major points with me this weekend. But really, when you bring a classic arcade title like Pac-Man to life, it’s guaranteed to be a touchdown. The setup plays out like a favorite joke: a regular Joe walks into a bar and the bartender asks him, “If I gave you a Bud Light, would you be up for whatever?” He answers yes, and the rest of the night turns into an epic adventure straight from the ’80s. What I loved most about the ad was the way it went beyond the scope of demographics (even if millennials were its main target). Instead, it focused on telling a larger-than-life story that people want to share. According to spokesperson Nick Kelly, “It’s really just finding people at drinking events, and if they’re drinking Bud Light, rewarding them with awesome experiences.” It’s a strategy that’s simple in theory, but difficult in execution. As creative problem-solvers, asking “How do we get people to tell our story?” is less impactful than asking “What is it about our story that’s worth telling?”

Emerald Avenue + Aisle Rocket Studios

September 26, 2014

Emerald Avenue challenged Aisle Rocket Studios to create a Destination Marketing Campaign to raise awareness and boost tourism to Southwest Michigan’s agribusiness destinations — wineries, distilleries, orchards and farm markets.

As part of the year-long campaign — and inspired by the subscription boxes like Birchbox, Julep and Graze — ARS created a fun and casual way to engage members of the media — an actual media kit. Included in each were artisan products and rural charm from each Emerald Avenue location (cherry jam, dried cherries and blueberries, whiskey barrel wood chip, wine bottle cork, and a vintage wine bottle label) and a new publication that acted as a source of material for the media to write their pieces.


The publication was The Emerald Avenue magazine — that helped define the brand’s essence and served as the focal point of the kit. The magazine’s purpose was to function as more than just a large brochure, as the magazine used imagery — both graphic and prose — to let consumers know what Emerald Avenue was all about.

The kits were sent to 40 members of the regional media and were bundled with Edible Michiana and Edible Chicago magazines. Sarah Jollay, Emerald Avenue president, received numerous inquiries from media reps to obtain more information about the cooperative. Editorial content was also posted to media blogs and online newsletters in addition to call-outs in a handful of publications.

Emerald Avenue was so enthused about The Emerald Avenue magazine they wanted to publish it annually and use it to add new members to the cooperative. Several of these members are also part of other tourist organizations and let Aisle Rocket and Emerald Avenue know they’d never received this level of attention and understanding for their businesses.

ATK Visits Aisle Rocket Studios

May 13, 2014

Above and beyond what I could have imagined.

Those were the words used by Mary Mccubbins to describe her recent field trip to Aisle Rocket Studios (ARS) accompanied by her fellow Illinois State University undergraduates. Enrolled in the Arts and Technology (ATK) program, these students were given an agency tour by ATK alum and lead ARS developer Chris Smith, who also provided what other tours hadn’t: real-world experience.


Students participated in a mock brainstorm – complete with a creative brief and deliverables – moderated by Smith and Matt Jansick, ARS’ Director of Emerging Retail Experiences. Called “one of the most successful parts of the tour” by Mccubbins, she and her fellow students were able to experience and participate in actual agency activities. “Ultimately, we were trying to give ATK students a real-world sense of the kind of work they’d be doing in an agency,” Smith said.

Giving ATK students a sample of what interactive agencies do is ideal, as their post-graduation opportunities are incredibly diverse. The traditional route entails students seeking employment at a tech company, where they code endlessly with little room for creativity. Some take the entrepreneurial path, creating innovative products/services/industries that haven’t been thought of before. Then, there’s Interactive Advertising Agencies – like Aisle Rocket Studios – where creativity and technology go hand-in-hand. An interactive agency is where ATK grads can apply both sides of their degree and their expertise to the work. The philosophy of these agencies is best detailed in a video by Robert Wong, Chief Creative Officer of Google, in which he speaks about the line between arts and science being blurred, leading to creatives collaborating with engineers and coders to solve problems.

At ARS, we take this idea further, as the creative team doesn’t just collaborate with technical staff — they’re one and the same. ARS includes technology at the onset of the creative process instead of treating it as a ‘box to tick off’ during the process. We build solutions for legendary clients that are more than just creative. They’re user-friendly. This makes the connection between the ATK program and ARS a no-brainer, as students apply everything they’ve learned in school to real-life projects.

Great work. Awesome clients.
Who wouldn’t want to join this team?

Better yet, who is ARS looking for? In terms of adding to the agency’s roster, our technology team prefers developers who are artists versus those who just code, a sentiment echoed by Alyque Ajani (Director of Technology and Innovation). “It’s more important to recruit those with passion over just the skills,” Ajani reveals, “as well as having the aptitude and willingness to learn, figuring it out and doing good work.” So if you’re a self-starter, a coder with an addiction to creativity, or a designer that knows how to code, we’re looking for you, you and you. We’re looking for those who not only want to change the world, but can. As Robert Wong so eloquently said in his video, “If you’re in the creative arts, don’t underestimate the role you might play in helping to shape the future.” That future is now. The place? Aisle Rocket Studios.

Bold New Look. Same Awesomeness.

May 29, 2013

Refueled. Reignited. Relaunched.


Have questions? There are answers below.
1) What does ARS stand for?

Aisle Rocket Studios


2) What does Aisle Rocket Studios signify?

Well, it all started in the Aisle. For 30 years, we’ve learned what motivates people to purchase, in-store and online. Rocket represents a spirit of adventure, energy and innovation. In our Studios, sleeves are rolled up and a sense of experimentation and collaboration are ever-present.


3) What’s changing?

We’re always changing. This change reflects the idea that shopping is a seamless experience that can happen everywhere, not just in-store or online. We now have a strategic focus to bridge the physical and digital spaces. See our services.


4) What’s not?

We’re the same group of 250-plus über-achievers with a deep passion to be the most flexible partner for our clients.


5) Is there a new URL?

Yes, we’ve just launched


6) Will email addresses change?

Yes, those too. Our new email format will be first initial + last name + So if your contact is John Smith from Aisle Rocket Studios, his updated email address will be


7) Has ownership changed?

No, Aisle Rocket Studios is a privately owned company. Our fearless leader, Scott Norman, remains CEO and owner. Check out the rest of our leadership team.


Stars at CIMA, 2 years in a row

October 15, 2012

For the second year in a row, ARS has picked up a CIMA Star award for best B2C website. This year, we’re thrilled to win this award for the recently launched, a digital cookbook and recipe experience from Kenmore Home Appliances. isn’t just another recipe website. It’s an experience that gets people engaging with each other and with Kenmore — online and in the kitchen. Browse recipes, upload your own, or add a unique twist to someone else’s recipe. You can even create your own digital cookbooks and share them online with family and friends. It keeps Kenmore on top of the mind of Kenmore loyal fans and potential customers alike.

Congratulations to the devoted team who worked long days and nights to bring this site to life.

Learn more about the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association ›

ARS wins the 2011 CIMA “Best Cross Media Campaign” award

November 16, 2011

ARS and the 2011 Amana brand campaign took home what is arguably one of the biggest wins at the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) awards. Voted as Best Cross Media Campaign, it took a simple idea and made a big impact in a city known to be a hotbed for interactive innovation. Read more

And the award goes to…

November 11, 2011

ARS had a big night at the 2011 Chicago Interactive Marketing Association (CIMA) Awards — taking home three out of ten CIMA Stars. We’re honored to set the bar in one of the largest interactive markets in the world, and we promise to continue to be engaging and effective when it comes to the bottom line.

Read more