Taking Proactive to the Next Level

19 03 2015

Last fall, I wrote a blog post for Alchemy that featured a long-form advert that mashed up the Internet’s obsession with cat-based cuteness and the super-cut, sweaty aggro look of sports apparel and fitness beverage spots. It spoke of my admiration for this fully blown viral campaign for Mars Petcare’s Temptations Treats for Cats. The centerpiece was a truly inspired YouTube video (link to come later, because this post really isn’t about it yet).

Almost five months later, I received an email from a very friendly person at the brand’s PR firm pitching me a new campaign constructed in the same fashion: hook, hashtag, user engagement, full media campaign, digital content, social media — and a new video:

While I appreciate the video a whole bunch and contributed to its views and shares (that is a seriously catchy vibe, Los Saicos), what I’m writing about is that this gigantic corporate enterprise and its agency found my blog post. And responded to it.

I find that level of digital search-and-conquer impressive. It reminds me that our efforts leave a pixelated trail of breadcrumbs that can circle back to our clients when we handle this whole integrated media thing properly.

If you’re the least bit curious about the post that provoked the response, just scroll down…that first video is there, too.

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Sports and Cats – No, Really…

5 09 2014

What do you get when you cross the Internet’s obsession with cat-based cuteness and the super-cut, sweaty aggro of sports apparel/fitness beverage advertising?

This:

 

The genius of this spot (designed as much for web-based enjoyment and virality as a broadcast buy) is that it appeals to a truly massive audience. Temptations Treats for Cats has hit on a pitch-perfect pitch that turns the traditional cutesy, meow-y, snuggly, or playful cat kibble spot into an ad that has been viewed since in the last four days over 216,000 times. It could run as successfully during an NFL game as it could during “Ellen.”

The purpose of this brilliant mash-up? Mars Petcare brand just “rolled out” new Temptations Tumblers. What’s the USP? Cat treats that are rounder than previous iterations – not that the average cat cares overmuch. According to the brand’s hype, “Now you can roll, toss or bounce delicious treats for your cats.” Based on years of feline observation, most cats prefer not to participate so actively in the apprehension of said treats.

So what.

With the corresponding hashtag #TimeToPlayBall!, a YouTube channel, and a dedicated Facebook page that began teasing the spot on Tuesday, this is really all about a product marketed to the buyer, not the end-user – which in no way diminishes the creative brilliance of the clip. By this time next week, it will have millions of views and shares, and sales of Tempations Tumblers are guaranteed to see a bump.

It’s a perfect example of how ad agencies can combine creativity and execution; concept and casting; cross-platform marketing; cuteness and edginess; music, muscles, and cats.





Bringing a Cult Film Festval to Your Town

8 06 2014

We have the great luck of a retail shopping destination client with a 500-seat cultural venue. On the not-so-great side, it’s a challenge to attract patrons and shoppers during South Florida’s off season – the incredibly hot and humid summers (with added bonus of hurricane season). Mainstreet at Midtown is known for its year-round outdoor festivals and events like a 16-week Music on the Plaza concert series (held during the drier and cooler months of the peak social season), its Peace Love & Wellness Music Festival, Children’s Festival, Cool Yule Tree Decorating Contest, and others.

swede fest palm beach 3So, we needed a summer event, and it REALLY needed to be indoors.

And then NPR did this great piece a couple of years ago about an underground film event that sounded like the perfect idea we could get behind and make our client’s own. Indie film festivals have a rich history of showcasing amazing undiscovered talent, where Hollywood insiders troll for the next big thing, where A-list stars promote the small labor-of-love projects they do between blockbusters. swede fest™ palm beach is an indie film festival with NONE of that going for it. In fact, our tagline is “Bad Movies by Good People.”

The key to understanding why is in the “swede.” A swede is a no-budget, laughably bad remake of a hit Hollywood film – the bigger, the better. The term comes from the 2008 Jack Black/Mos Def comedy, Be Kind Rewind, and was made up to explain the sheer awfulness of their remade films by touting them as European – “swedes” because it sounded really sophisticated. Not exactly a classic in its genre, but neither is it comedy kryptonite.

swede fest palm beach 3Next thing you know, there’s an underground sweding craze. Two guys in Fresno invited a bunch of friends to make films starring themselves, then get together to screen them, like they do at Sundance, SXSW, Telluride, Slamdance, Tribeca, and so on – but without the beautiful celebrities, coolness factor, or bidding wars. Hence the coverage on NPR.

We’re the third official swede fest™. First, Fresno. Then, Tampa Bay. Now, the Palm Beaches. This is the third year, and we sell out every time, create super fun/cheesy marketing, a great microsite, go crazy on social media: www.facebook.com/swedefestpalmbeach and www.twitter.com/swedefestpb , give out silly awards (Best Use of a Backyard Location, Best Use of Man’s Best Friend, Best Use of Tinfoil), and everyone generally has a great time and gets dressed up in total Hollywood drag.

Local schools get involved and sometimes do them as class projects, and the community and local media really get behind it because we deliberately created an all-ages event – you can swede any film, but your 3-minute clip must be PG-13, even if your source material is not. We’ve had swedes of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Thing, and already we have someone who has submitted The Wolf of Wall Street for this year’s festival on August 2. We’re anxious to see exactly how they’ll sanitize that one.





15 Days of Fame Into Less Than 4 Minutes

30 05 2014

Getting marketing and PR mileage out of an event can take some ingenuity. Big, splashy events with celebrities, music, celebrations, food – and sometimes all of the above – have a certain built-in traction that makes the job a bit easier. But what do you do when you’re marketing something that is still an intangible – a residential project that won’t be completed until January 2015, with no floor plans, no pre-leasing, no artist’s conceptions available for another couple of months? By painting a huge public art mural that takes 15 days. There are milestones you can get the media to cover and the public to take interest in: that first dash of color on the bricks, and the final touches when it is complete.

But then it’s over. How do you remind people of the scope, of the breadth, of the magnitude – and then show it to those who never even knew it was happening? And keep it out there to continually show prospective residents, the ultimate reason the investment was made in the first place?

Time lapse photography and a drone.

The final result is a video that is sharable, portable, and allowed the artist, the client, the city, and fans to make it a viral gift that keeps on giving. Credit where credit is due: Artist — Tristan Eaton and his killer team; Time Lapse — Gregory Dillard of Grapeseeker Motion Graphics; 7,000 square feet of “Canvas” — Ram Real Estate/Alexander Lofts.





Looking Like A Big Deal…Before You Are

27 11 2013

Transformed: Homecoming Queen, Drig Addict, Spiritual WarriorThe proliferation of ways to publish your magnum opus (or, you know, an exhaustive detailing of your whole two and a half decades of life experience) has been both a blessing and a curse. It allows talented voices an outlet directly to the audience; we’ll skip the fact that it allows the spectacularly untalented a way into print. Vanity publishing used to keep all but the well-heeled hack out of that sandbox.

But we digress. This blog post is about finding clever ways to bring attention to a self-published author, with the end goal of interesting a mainstream publisher in either picking up the work or future works. Then again, if the campaign is successful, perhaps that mainstream publisher becomes much less enticing or even necessary.

We worked recently with the anonymous author of a book about her experiences as a drug addict. It is a sobering book with a message of hope, forgiveness, and redemption. She financed the publishing of her book in paperback and e-book herself, and was savvy enough to know that if she could put some of her savings into professionally designed marketing materials, she would look like the product of a mainstream publisher, which translates into instant credibility with many consumers.

Complicating matters was that the book is anonymous, which means no lovely dust jacket photo — and a somewhat vague bio. We decided together that we would do the following things to help promote her book: an attention-getting book cover, a website, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, a media kit, and a series of testimonial videos.

Remember that anonymous thing? It somewhat complicates the production of book trailers and testimonials. But through lighting, lenses, and post-production tinkering with their voices and appearances, we were able to preserve the identities of six people, who could then speak 100% candidly about how they feel about the book, how they feel about the author, and what it was like to deal with the author at the height of her addiction and as she struggled to recover. It allowed the author to speak about her experience dredging up painful episodes from her past, and about those episodes themselves, without endangering her high-paying, high-profile career. Here’s a sample:

The sum total of those marketing tools resulted in one of the largest and most nationally recognized non-profit providers of alcohol and drug addiction treatment lending the author its support of her book through promotion in its newsletters and e-communications, and sales in its treatment centers, bookstores, and at its engagements. And that’s a big deal.





BDB Wins First-Place Awards from The Florida Economic Development Council for Alchemy’s Creative

19 08 2012
Just some of the components of the "Right Here. Right Now." multimedia campaign developed for the BDB.

Just some of the components of the “Right Here. Right Now.” multimedia campaign.

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County was honored at The Florida Economic Development Council’s (FEDC) 2012 Annual Meeting with three first-place awards in promotional and marketing innovation — and two of those were for creative work done in collaboration with Alchemy.

The BDB received the first-place award in the following categories: Ad Campaign for its “Right Here.Right Now.” multimedia effort targeting out-of-state corporate headquarters via a direct appeal to those companies’ CEOs (produced with Alchemy); External Publication for its annual business magazine and investor/member directory, Profile Magazine (primarily an in-house effort with the help of an outside publisher specializing in this sort of hybrid product); and E-Media for its micro-site at www.HQpbc.com, the web-based component of the “Right Here. Right Now.” campaign (again, with Alchemy).

As part of the campaign, the hqPBC.com microsite was accessed via QR code with a smart phone or tablet

As part of the campaign, the hqPBC.com micro-site was accessed via QR code with a smart phone or tablet.

FEDC’s annual awards both emphasize outstanding marketing strategies and encourage the development of more effective marketing tools through example. Judging criteria included creativity, impact, quality, originality, and substance. In a press release announcing the wins, the BDB’s President and CEO, Kelly Smallridge, said, ““We are extremely proud to be recognized for the way we market Palm Beach County to businesses. The BDB was able to compete statewide and win three awards due to the commitment of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners and the private sector.”

Ms. Smallridge went on to make direct reference to the ongoing work Alchemy has been doing with the BDB over the past two years in rebranding all of its collateral and revamping the look of its various media, from print collateral and ads, to web and social. “We updated our brand through the design and implementation of new print materials and a new website to better market the attractive business climate in Palm Beach County to potential corporate headquarters. It’s very rewarding to be recognized by our peers throughout the state as having programs which are innovative and designed to showcase the assets of our corporate environment.”

It has been rewarding for Alchemy as well to work with a client so open-minded to change and willing to step away from the tried-and-true look developed by so many economic development organizations around the country with which Palm Beach County competes.

The Business Development Board of Palm Beach County is the official public/private economic development organization for Palm Beach County and Enterprise Florida. Founded in 1982 — and celebrating its 30th Anniversary, for which Alchemy designed a special logo that will be unveiled at its annual Gala in September — as a not-for-profit corporation, the BDB’s primary purpose is to attract and retain new industry, business investment, high-quality jobs, and workforce development through corporate relocations, expansions, and international trade. During the past five years, the BDB has assisted companies that have created more than 7,900 direct jobs with average salaries greater than $55,400, resulting in more than $400 million in capital investment to Palm Beach County and an economic impact that exceeds $1.8 billion. And that benefits us all.





Right Here. Right Now. With the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County

23 03 2012
Just some of the components of the "Right Here. Right Now." multimedia campaign developed for the BDB.

Just some of the components of the "Right Here. Right Now." multimedia campaign developed for the BDB.

When the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County decided to reach out to the CEOs of companies headquartered outside of Florida who own second (or third or fourth) homes in Palm Beach County, to educate them about the myriad advantages of relocating their businesses here, it needed an eye-catching campaign that would speak directly to this sophisticated audience on a peer-to-peer level.

The BDB tapped Alchemy Communications Group to come up with a multi-media campaign that would capitalize on a time when this rarefied group would be an essentially captive audience — during the 12 weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington. Many of the country’s top CEOs are spectators at the high-stakes competition as their own children vie for top honors.

The table-top tent card

The table-top tent card

So, how do you grab their attention amid the dozens of ads for luxury cars, Hermes saddles and waiting-list handbags, Worth Avenue purveyors, equestrian haberdashers, custom leather equipage, realtors specializing in everything from Palm Beach mansions to horse farms, restaurants, and retailers all vying for the many millions of dollars circulating at WEF?

By asking provocative questions; using a palette of saturated colors that are not the usual “South Florida” pastels; employing the latest in instant digital gratification, the QR code; and tying together print ads in the event’s weekly WIRE program, 30-second TV spots on the Jumbotron, table-top tent cards in the International Club, and PA announcements that all drive to a stand-alone web microsite.

“Our thought process was, ‘What would get the attention of the founder or CEO of a very successful company, who knows South Florida as a vacation destination but has no reason to know that there are some very large national and even international companies that have chosen Palm Beach County as their headquarters?'” says Kelly Owens, partner and editorial director. “We though that if we took some of the little known facts about a handful of our largest and most successful companies, and turned them into somewhat mysterious and provocative questions, we would pique their curiosity to know the answer.”

The small card affixed to the tent card with URL and QR code

The small card affixed to the tent card with URL and QR code

Affixed to the table-top tent cards was a small credit-card-sized card printed with the URL HQpbc.com and a QR code. It could be taken and tucked away for later, or scanned with a smart phone right there. The rest of the card was given over to a question that changed each week, and the invitation to find out the answer by visiting the website. The black tent cards were green inside to match the take-away card affixed to the front. Rather than wasting valuable real estate, the inside of the tent card was printed with a series of Quick Facts that echoed the data used in the highly graphic 30-second TV spots.

Titled “Right Here. Right Now.”, both TV spots made use of the long list of advantages and superlatives about doing business in, or moving a business to, Palm Beach County. “We used animated type with a lot of quick cuts and movement on both the horizontal and vertical planes to keep attention on the screen,” says Steve Owens, partner and creative director. “We then laid in voice-over and music to be sure the message was succinctly conveyed.” Alchemy worked with DreamShop Digital Arts for post-production and animation, with Steve directing the spots and Kelly writing the voice-over scripts. Both commercials can be seen on the HQpbc.com microsite.

Each week, as the new table-top tent card appeared in the International Club tent, the payoff answer appeared on the HQpbc.com microsite in the form of a company profile, along with the picture of the company’s CEO. The Palm Beach County based businesses currently featured in the campaign are Florida Power & Light, Sikorsky Aircraft, Florida Crystals, FTI Consulting, G4S, SBA Communications, Scripps Florida, Max Planck Florida Institute, and LRP Publications.

The microsite can be accessed via QR code with a smart phone or tablet

The microsite can be accessed via QR code with a smart phone or tablet

The Business Development Board’s President, Kelly Smallridge, intends to expand and use the campaign in the economic development organization’s ongoing efforts to attract new industries, business investment, and high-quality jobs to Palm Beach County through corporate relocations and/or expansions, and international trade, which will stimulate economic energy, promote business diversity, and enrich our county’s vitality.

The microsite was built to be flexible so that it can be modified to focus on a specific industry cluster or market cap. Company profiles can be added, moved, or replaced at will, giving the BDB great control over messaging, content, and the ability to update economic data and facts. Alchemy worked with LocalManagement.us and its principal, Matt Kakuk, to execute the programming of its custom web design work.

Alchemy is already hard at work on the redesign of the BDB’s outgoing marketing collateral package, and the “Right Here. Right Now.” campaign will inform, to some degree, its “Corporate Headquarters” collateral brochure, making further use of the expenditure for this campaign and using its marketing dollars wisely.








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