advertising and other stuff. no, really.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Notes from the road - Tell us your damn story.

While contemplating a blog future beyond posting the latest ad agency flashmob case study – from an ad agency you never heard of – this Notes series becomes a time to riff on things already written about here from a different perspective. Namely, interaction with brands and clients out on the road.

One of those things is the Tell us your story! rut that too many are stuck in. After conducting some employee interview sessions for one of our clients recently, it’s clear that few brands focus on telling their internal story. It’s too bad because the people behind the scenes and on the factory floor have great stuff to share.

Maybe brands begging for consumer stories on Facebook have to go that route because they could never turn the camera towards themselves. Could be that they’re too big of a corporation where legal would never let them do that. Maybe it’s not size but the DNA of the place is such that opening up like that is simply not something they’re wired to do.

Looking at the recent Patron campaign and a brand heritage/giving message, while admirable, feels no more genuine than the rest of a spirits category that focuses on lifestyle. Showing me a rustic warehouse with one of your workers is one thing – but what’s his story?

After this last trip, I’ve come to think it’s the rare brand that has not just some agency-manufactured story, but really knows who they are as a brand and fosters that attitude in everything they do. Less an altruistic effort like Tom’s Shoes and more like Zappos.

Seeing people from all walks of life at varying levels in this particular company, each had something unique to say, and all shared a common trait in loving the brand they worked for. I’ve seen that in few others where, top to bottom, everyone’s in it together for real, not just a feel-good company shot on the company website.

Going off on a tangential riff, the one thing the industry could do better at is having new creatives – and all agency roles actually – immerse themselves in the client side for a month or so. A bootcamp of sorts where you get to see the inner workings of brands and what they go through daily.

Creatives fresh out of school generally have no sense of the people or business they’re about to spend a lot of late nights cranking out layouts for. Works both ways too. For those brands with no in-house art department, a little agency immersion would be a good thing so they can see the depth of thinking that goes into the work we produce.

Every consumer has a story? Sure, okay. But so do the people who make the products they buy. Here’s to sharing more of those.


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