Every ten years, the US government takes stock of our ever-evolving populace - better known as the US census. It is the largest peacetime mobilization of workers and is inevitably greeted with apathy, inertia or downright suspicion. The big question is how do you activate over 300 million people - many with different cultures, politics and languages? We led a partnership group of 14 agencies working in 28 languages to create hundreds of TV spots, videos, blogs, news releases, print ads, billboards, banner ads, radio spots, road shows and multiple Facebook, Youtube, Flickr and Twitter pages - plus one dynamic website. In the end we generated more than 17 billion impressions - 217 million alone for the 18-week road show tour - and exceeded all goals for participation.
Sailor Jerry is a wonderful brand of spiced rum that’s managed to achieve mainstream success while at the same time maintaining its subversive heart. We helped define what the brand really stood for, created a destination website and got folks actively involved through underground music events, social media initiatives and a bartender ambassador program. All of which dramatically increased sales without giving the impression they’d “sold-out” to the man.
Above the Influence has been one of the most enduring and successful initiatives ever undertaken by the government. From the very beginning, the approach was to build a positive brand and symbol that teens could claim as their own, rather than push anti-drug messaging out at them. It needed to be the opposite of "This is your brain on drugs". While we made dozens of videos and TV commercials, most of our efforts were focused on creating digital forums, events and activities to allow teens to express and share their own personal interpretation of what Above The Influence means. We were constantly documenting, gathering and promoting their art, photos, fashion, videos and words. The fireworks project included here was just one example of the types of digital properties we created to help teens tell their own story.
New materials, new processes, new technology or just innovative ways to use traditional ones - I studied and started my career as a designer and I've never stopped loving the exploration of form and function and the hands-on making of things. The examples here include packaging that saves lives, T-shirts that bring opposing cultures together, an eco-friendly musical icon and even interactive, motivational napkins.
When we launched 1818 in Switzerland we were up against several other newcomers and a respected and entrenched monopoly. Within 8 months we’d won over 50% market share – plus an EFFIE. Obviously, the credit for the original goes to WCRS in the UK. Our job was to find a unique Swiss interpretation of the brand. After months of research, we eventually based ours on the Olympic skiing legends Bernhard Russi and Roland Collombin. A new version of Boney M’s “Daddy Cool” provided the soundtrack. After the brand launch, we checked metrics weekly, adjusted work accordingly, tested, learned and churned out a constant stream of fun content with little time or budget. We also gave consumers plenty of ways to create their own costumes and videos - dozens of DIY 1818 characters began showing up on ski slopes, street parades and festivals. All this great stuff got funneled into social media platforms. It was a thoroughly modern model – even though broadcast TV often led the charge.
There’s nothing tougher than being in the publishing business these days (except maybe being the advertising business). Our task was to show that the world's premiere magazine company was, in fact, the world's most extensive news and entertainment platform. The great thing about Time Inc. and its 90+ iconic brands is that no one generates more or better content. And with their creation of extensive video, social and event offerings, we had a chance to submerge people in multiple stories about the things they love most. The opportunity to create a physical space that transforms as visitors curate their own content was the most interesting part of this campaign.
I had the fortune to lead the Orange team for over 6 years. It remains one of my favorite professional experiences. We were involved with pretty much everything - from brand strategy and communications down to retail store collateral and events. The work we did helped make them one of the most popular and successful brands in Switzerland, won numerous international awards and led to several pan-European assignments through the global group in London.
Valser is one of Switzerland's most famous mineral waters. Every bottle comes from one source and every drop spends at least 25 years traveling through a single mountain that's a Kilometer deep. When Coca Cola asked us to re-launch the brand, we decided to position the mountain as the oldest, deepest and slowest water processing plant in the world. Then we developed the world's deepest website (a digital kilometer) to let visitors take their own 25-year journey through the heart of the mountain. All our communications were built around the line "Valser nimmst sich seit" which means "Valser takes it's own time". We were contacted soon after we finished by several high school geology teachers. Eventually the site was officially included as part of the Swiss secondary school geology curriculum.
Everyone loves a comeback story. After years of trying to be something they weren't, Blackberry had faded into irrelevance. We worked directly with John Chen, Blackberry's new CEO, to re-discover the brand's lost soul. There was reason Blackberry existed in the first place - to help business people make shit happen. This was a six office global effort led out of gyro:ny.
There's nothing more exciting than being involved with defining a brand's essence from the ground up. I've had the opportunity to be part of building major brands from scratch - like M1 Telecom in Singapore, help smaller tech firms get established - like nContext, and been in charge of global rebranding efforts for everything from an industrial lubricant manufacturer to a struggling mobile communications giant. Naming exercises, logo and visual identity development, brand architecture and internal adoption and external rollout are all processes that I've led numerous times.
This to me is a model for how we need to work in the modern world. Teams of developers, technologists, marketing minds, strategists and creative types clustered around a problem for a short and intense period of time. The most important element of all is the inclusion the client throughout the entire process - with a mandate to approve and and budget to finish development.
The voyage of the Esperanza was the longest and largest sea going tour Greenpeace had ever attempted. Our job was to get as many people as possible actively following the 9–month, 7-seas adventure – and contributing their own thoughts, images and, well, money.
Our goal was to encourage New Yorkers to donate to City Harvest, a non-profit organization that rescues food for the hungry. We presented some startling stats in surprising ways to illustrate how much food can be rescued for a modest donation. Direct response donations increased by $600,000 over the previous year, online donations by 20% and cityharvest.com saw a 25% jump in visitors from prior years. Oh yeah, we also produced the first broadcast TV spot shot entirely on an iPhone and starring a pre-Masters of Sex Caitlin Fitzgerald.
The things I get most excited about are experiences that happen at the intersection of the physical and digital worlds. When you can get people to look at their environment in a different way, you can get them to act in a different way.
The places and ways we look at moving pictures may have changed over the years, but the need to craft compelling, humanly relevant stories hasn't - no matter what screen they're viewed on.
Both Switzerland and Singapore have long traditions of excellent print and poster design. I had plenty of opportunities over the years to practice the craft. These are a few of my favorites.
When gyro New York outgrew its space, we had the chance to gut and renovate an entire floor in the historic Trinity Centre Building in the financial district for the new office. Working closely with VOA architects, we designed a space that was modern, open, light-filled and unmistakably gyro - but also kept many of the architectural details that make this building unique. Len Cerame and Cayce Beckett from VOA were wonderful partners and Auro Trini-Castelli used his strategic designer sensibility to make every detail perfect. I've been involved with many office and store branding projects for clients - both interior and exterior - but opportunity to do it for your own shop was a rare and wonderful opportunity.