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What Works Studio

About us

Welcome to What Works

Since 2009, What Works Studio has been creating brands, projects, and campaigns that have become culturally significant movements that capture the attention of the world.


Our work has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in measurable economic impact and ROI, billions of earned media impressions, viral social media events, and global brand recognition for clients seeking to create monumental change at scale.


We have won many awards, including Innovator of the Year and Creative Group of the Year, but our primary focus is on creating big wins for our clients and we have a strong track record of delivering transformational results with global reach.


What Works is led by Brooke Hall Allen (Founder/CEO) and Justin Allen (Partner/COO). The What Works team includes 20+ professionals such as project managers, account managers, social media specialists, content creators, problem-solvers, designers, developers, copy writers, and creative strategists who are uniquely talented at crafting stories that inspire people to action.


As a woman-owned small business, we’re certified by Maryland DOT as Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Baltimore City as Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), WBENC National as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE), and WBENC and SBA as Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB). Learn more about how we can help you achieve your minority participation goals.


We’re the creators of Light City, America’s first large-scale light and innovation festival that has generated over $111 Million in economic impact for Maryland. We developed Light City to position the region as a global hub of innovation, create economic opportunities for innovators, artists, and entrepreneurs, and shift the image of a city in the eyes of the world. In its first year, Light City welcomed more than 400,000 people over 7 nights, and added $33.8 Million to the local economy (a ROI of 956%). To date, Light City has had more than 2.9 Billion earned media impressions.


What Works created the viral internet celebrity, Mr. Trash Wheel, who has become an international icon for ocean conservancy. Mr. Trash Wheel achieved the number one spot on the front page of Reddit during a viral AMA appearance, was featured in National Geographic’s print edition, and was named Discovery Channel’s #1 Story of the Year. After being featured in hundreds of publications globally, Mr. Trash Wheel has become popular around the world.


Before that, we helped raise $5.9 million in a single day on #GivingTuesday for a technology client. The #BmoreGivesMore effort became the largest #GivingTuesday campaign at that time and won Baltimore the title of “Most Generous City in America.” Together with the client, we birthed a movement that was replicated in over 70 cities the following year. Our campaign was featured in dozens of national publications, mentioned in many more online outlets, and is now featured in a permanent exhibition in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Launched in 2010, we founded What Weekly, an online music, arts, and innovation magazine committed to focusing on positive stories and remarkable artists, musicians, and innovators in Baltimore regularly overlooked by mainstream media. What Weekly rallied hundreds of local contributors to develop thousands of stories, read by hundreds of thousands of people in countries around the world. The award-winning publication has been featured in The Guardian, New York Magazine, and Huffington Post, among others. Many stories that were originated by What Weekly were later picked up by mainstream and national media.
Social Media Marketing Agency
women to watch in 2016
brava award badge
creative group of the year
certificate of recognition


"What Works Studio has really gone the extra mile to ensure our social media campaigns consistently exceeded engagement benchmarks for our campaigns for the past five years. I whole-heartedly recommend What Works Studio as your social media agency.”

Program Manager, Consumer Marketing, National Healthcare Organization

"Working with the What Works team was a pleasure, from start to finish. I found their expertise invaluable."

Denise Russo, Senior Director, Regional Marketing Communications, Kaiser Permanente

"Congrats to @lightcityu paving the way! Proud for @VFABaltimore to be part of your work!"

Andrew Yang, 2020 Presidential Candidate

"Thank you Brooke and Justin for your vision of a transformative event with #lightcity - I agree we can shape the evolution of our city."

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor, City of Baltimore

"Brooke and Justin pulled this off in less than 13 months / true champions for Baltimore city."

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor, City of Baltimore

"Not only have you used your expertise to create and lead world-class campaigns and social movements, but you have engaged the whole community in the process. You are an inspiration."

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, 2nd District, Maryland, Member of Congress

"Your creativity, imagination and innovation, and the ways you have chosen to use these talents speaks to your continued success."

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Member of Congress

"I am so impressed by all you have accomplished. Thank you for doing what you're doing - and keep up the good work!"

Brooke Lierman, Maryland House of Delegates, Legislative District 46

"What Works Studio cares about their clients and it shows in their work."

Dawn Gammon

"You are making a difference, not just at What Works Studio, but also out in the community. Thank you for making our community a better place in which to live and work."

Kevin J. Manning, President, Stevenson University

"They paid attention to what was important to me and worked hard to create a campaign that was tailored just for my business... Do yourself a favor and contact What Works Studio."

Christopher Schafer

"Don't know many other people who manifest dreams like you and Justin!"

Diana Gross, Director of Learning and Innovation, Johns Hopkins University

"Astonishing vision."

Mary Duston Lidinsky

"Allen and Hall deserve the Key to the City! Total heroes in Baltimore. Light City was a wonderful event with great potential for the future. Two artists brought more joy (and probably more money) into the city than the Grand Prix debacle that cost millions in upfront investment."

Charm City Momma, The Baltimore Sun

"Brooke led our team through the creative process, developed a beautiful logo that truly reflected our values, and delivered – on time and on budget – a beautiful website. To this day, new visitors to the site compliment her work on a regular basis."

Olga Maltseva, Warnock Foundation

"Brooke Hall Allen is not only an exemplary designer, businesswoman, and marketer, but a role model for social responsibility and community involvement in the business community."

Olga Maltseva, Warnock Foundation

"These guys are incredible. Great work, incredible and inspiring!"

Jesse Rowe, Live.com

"Genius crew."

Heather Fields, GiveCorps

"I deeply appreciate and applaud the efforts of the Light City team to positively raise the profile of our city. I personally appreciate the profound commitment the two of you have made."

Jack Elsby

"Communications gurus!"

Doreen Bolger, Director, Baltimore Museum of Art

"Brilliant logo."

Christopher Regan, THA Advisory

"What Weekly is one of the great ideas to come out of Baltimore in the last few years."

Peter Davis

"Best party of the year!"

Aaron Henkin, Producer WYPR

"It’s impossible, until it’s not. I have never seen, anywhere, a transformation of vision into reality that was such a stretch. And so fast. You two did it! And perhaps never, has our town needed what you have made real, more."

Gary Vikan, Director, The Walters Art Museum

"Just wanted to send over a lot of love and encouragement. Light City's news shone all the way to London, here in my adopted city to make me smile, and say HOORAY, FINALLY some brilliant Baltimore sunshine."

Rick Armiger

"Baltimore will forever be changed because you had vision and dedication."

Mike Galiazzo, Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland

"Genius in concept and flawless in execution."

Elizabeth J. Himelfarb Hurwitz

"You and Justin gave an extraordinary gift to our city and I was just happy to be part of the moment in time."

Sarah Hemminger, Cofounder and CEO of Thread, Inc.

"You are amazing. I am so proud of what you and Justin have done and continue to do for our great City."

Jennifer Meyer, Vice President, Global Customer Operations at ZeroFOX

"You have done important and such inspiring work. Thank you for bringing Light City to fruition!"

Dr. Leana Wen, Physician, Healthcare Executive, Professor and Author

"The website is amazing! You guys nailed it and I love, love, love it!"

S. Smith, G.B. Smith Photography

"Your work is amazing!"

Amy Webb, Author and Founder of Future Today Institute

"Thank you for being the genesis of Light City. This event will change Baltimore forever."

Kimberly Warren and John Cammack

"We are really impressed with how organized you are. I've worked with 4-5 social media content strategy firms, and What Works trumps them all in terms of process and organization."

Ben Smith, Homewood Interiors

“The enthusiasm of Brooke Hall, founder of Light City, is infectious."

Charu Suri, Travel Pulse

“If you are from Baltimore, this next paragraph can only be about Brooke Hall and Justin Allen, founders of Light City Baltimore. What a debt we owe these two. We should parade them through town and give them the keys to this city, for they are just two regular people who have reminded us that in Baltimore this is what two people can do. This is citizenship at its finest. Two people believed in an idea that could better their city. They badgered everyone they could to make it happen. They are Baltimore’s best.”

Jen Ronald, The Baltimore Sun

"Light City U’s Creative Innovation Conference [which was developed, programmed and hosted by Brooke Hall and Justin Allen was] one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended (and I’ve attended a LOT of conferences).”

M. Kendall Ludwig

"I appreciated their vision, their passion, and the overall concept of bringing the community together.”

Calvin G. Butler Jr., CEO of BGE

"You’re talking about two people who had an idea before its time."

John Cammack, Managing Partner of Cammack Associates LLC

"They have their fingers on the pulse of all things hot and creative in Charm City.”

The Guardian

"Your work was one of the reasons we were acquired and joined a national network of industry leaders. Our capacity to do phenomenal work has increased exponentially."

BJ Sing, CEO of EventEQ

"A rare combination of strategic thinker and creative executor… all of this has worked to shorten our sales cycle, which of course has led to better sales. I highly recommend What Works Studio."

Derek Gordon, Yield Software

"This new logo is fantastic! There was clearly both brilliance and God-driven inspiration behind it."

John Frisch, CEO, Miles and Stockbridge


Best Social Media Marketing Agencies in Baltimore – 2020 and 2022



Innovator of the Year

The Daily Record


Creative Group of the Year

Baltimore Innovation Week


25 Women to Watch

The Baltimore Sun


Top 40 Under 40

Baltimore Business Journal


Downtown Baltimore Award

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore


Baltimore Transformer Award

Strong City Baltimore


Silo Breaker Award



Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition

City of Baltimore


Best of Baltimore: Light City

Baltimore Magazine


Best of Baltimore: What Weekly

Baltimore Magazine


Brava Top Female CEO

Smart CEO Magazine


Social Innovation Award

Baltimore Social Innovation Journal