By Angela Holmes

Although the red ping pong table and group lunches at de Novo Alternative Marketing are pretty groovy, the coolest part of working there is the ability for employees to expand their knowledge and test boundaries.

“The cool factor comes down to not limiting ourselves,” said partner Jen Neumann. “We take the limitation of ‘that’s a bad idea’ out of the equation. You’d be surprised what people tend to gravitate toward.”

The marketing agency housed in the Cherry Building in Cedar Rapids’ New Bohemia neighborhood focuses on non-traditional campaigns.

For example, when the company took on the Mr. Tobacco campaign, they didn’t want to focus on death or show disgusting pictures as a teaching tool for children. Instead, they took a humorous approach with a 7-foot cigarette who failed at every turn.

“At de Novo we always have a fun time, which I really appreciate. No matter what, someone is laughing and being creative. We frequently get crafting projects that everyone gets to do,” stated an employee in a nomination letter.

Another employee commented on the family-like atmosphere at de Novo.

“de Novo is cool because we are free to express ourselves and don’t have to tame who we are as individuals when we come into the office. It’s also a cool place to work because we don’t have to be afraid of failing. We can make mistakes and that’s OK, as long as we learn from them. de Novo is a family, and I look forward to coming to work every single day,” the employee commented.

And, of course, there is the ping pong table.

“Our ‘conference table’ is a big red ping pong table and it sets the tone for the fun, open space. I love that everyone gets along – both in and out of work – and there’s a deep level of respect for each other, not only as co-workers but as friends,” an employee commented.

The company plans to expand its workforce this year as well as open its own video studio, Ms. Neumann said.