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If you’re reading this, it probably means that you, or your brand, are interested in becoming a stronger ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Welcome! We’re happy you’re here. To our LGBTQIA+ readers, we hope this blog post will be a helpful resource for specific strategies and information that you can share with your brand, colleagues, employees, partners, or clients. At AMP Agency, we believe that people of all genders, sexual orientations, and romantic orientations deserve to feel safe, respected, loved, validated, and represented. Through this lens, we’ve curated a list of actionable ideas that your brand can incorporate into your workplace and year-round marketing efforts. 1. Establish an Atmosphere of Respect within Your Workplace Before your brand can be an LGBTQIA+ ally to the general public, it must be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ people behind the scenes. No matter how inclusive a campaign appears on the surface, it will feel inauthentic (and perhaps even disrespectful) if the brand that created it doesn’t treat its own employees equally and with respect. In addition to the following sections of this blog post, which include tips for brands to use internally and externally, here are a few more tactics you can use to make inclusivity a key component of your company culture: Hire LGBTQIA+ employees and work with LGBTQIA+ influencers, partners and clients year round. Did you know there are professional recruiting events specific to this community? There are also employment programs for community subgroups, like the SF LGBT Center’s Transgender Employment Program. Create employee resource groups to foster a sense of community among workers. For example, our parent company Advantage Solutions created the group PRISM to nurture personal and professional growth among our LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies. 2. Learn the Language and Use It Thoughtfully Like other cultural groups, the LGBTQIA+ community has its own language, which includes slang, acronyms, personal identifiers, and more. Learning appropriate terms and using them considerately in your workplace and marketing efforts can build authenticity, loyalty and respect. However, please keep in mind that your brand’s historic and internal use of the language will impact how the public receives your current, public usage of it. For example, if you use the term “yasss” on a branded Pride shirt — a phrase that originated in 1980s ball culture among LGBTQIA+ people of color — and your brand has never previously spoken or acted in support of LGBTQIA+ individuals and/or people of color, that would not be a respectful or authentic use of the language. And more importantly, this surface-level celebration could come across as exploitative. When it comes to branded support, walking the walk must come before talking the talk. So, what does it look like when a brand thoughtfully uses language to support the community? Check out the inclusive work that Sephora has created in recent years, like their “Identify as We” campaign. Not only does it spotlight LGBTQIA+ people, their lives, and their pronouns, but it was also created by and for the community. Allure reported in 2019: "Both in front of and behind the camera, the campaign is populated with exclusively members of the LGBTQA+, transgender and gender-fluid community. Activists and influencers like Fatima Jamal and Hunter Schafer appear, putting on makeup, showing off beautiful hairstyles, or just plain old making out." It’s a great campaign on its own, but it’s even more powerful if you take into account Sephora’s continual allyship efforts. For example, they have beauty classes designed specifically for the transgender comunity. Authentically using language is important, but it’s most effective as part of a larger allyship initiative. With that in mind, here are some great resources for learning basic LGBTQIA+ terminology: The Trevor Project’s glossary of key terms The Safe Zone Project’s glossary of LGBTQ+ vocabulary “LGBTQ definitions every good ally should know” from USA Today GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Before we dive into the next section, we want to call out a few additional tips for thoughtfully using LGBTQIA+ language. First, language is fluid. The words we use are constantly changing in connotation, usage, and relevancy. For example, the term “queer” has historically been used as a slur, but many in the community have since reclaimed it. Still, others find the word offensive. Check out this article from them, a next-generation community platform, for a nuanced look at the term. Second, every member of the LGBTQIA+ community is an individual, and thus has their own unique cultural identifiers, preferences, and opinions. Think about which other cultural groups someone might identify with. This intersectionality may impact the language they use, like how the term “Two-Spirit” is used as a gender/sexuality/role identifier among some Indigenous North American communities. 3. Make Sharing Pronouns as Easy and Comfortable as Possible Across Your Brand Experience Pronouns can dramatically impact how an LGBTQIA+ person feels about themselves and others. Schuyler Bailar, the first trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete and owner of the popular Instagram account @pinkmantaray, explains the feeling of being misgendered in a 2020 blog post: When [you] call me the pronouns & name I no longer identify with, it says: You don’t exist. It says: I don’t see you and I value my view of you more than I value your comfort and safety. Misgendering me hurts my feelings a great deal. I know I might look a different way now than I did but I am still me. And I have always been me. And [you] using the name and pronouns that I use now – always, even with old pictures – is a way to validate that. To validate me. To say you see me. Click the links below for resources you can use to better understand pronouns and how to apply them in daily life: LGBT Life Center’s “Understanding pronouns” guide “Pronouns 101: Why They Matter and What To Do (and Not Do) If You Misgender Someone” from Medium “Why You Should Put Your Pronouns in Your Bio” by Schuyler Bailar Once you’re more familiar with pronouns, start incorporating them into your company culture and brand strategy. How? Share your pronouns when introducing yourself to new clients, partners, or members of your workplace. Whether or not you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this can create a safe space for people to share their pronouns, if desired. Add your pronouns to your social media bios, email signature, Zoom title — or anywhere else that might be relevant — as a sign to others that you support the LGBTQIA+ community. When your brand partners with an openly LGBTQIA+ individual, make sure you know their pronouns and how they identify before you post anything that specifically references their pronouns, sexuality, or gender. Be especially cautious when working with transgender and non-binary partners to make sure you don’t misgender or deadname anyone. (Deadnaming is when you refer to a transgender or non-binary person by their birth name or other former name. It’s often harmful and can be traumatic.) If your brand is creating a contact form or hosting a survey, consider adding a section for people to provide their pronouns. If you ask for someone’s gender, provide a variety of options to choose from, as opposed to the historically binary choices of “male” and “female.” Many governmental and medical forms still use this binary structure, which excludes many members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 4. Be Mindful of News, Cultural Events, and Legislation That Might Impact Your LGBTQIA+ Audience Since American marketing and advertising began, the LGBTQIA+ community has had to deal with exclusion, harassment and discrimination — both inside of and outside of the industry. That’s still true today. When we create campaigns targeting or spotlighting this demographic, we should make sure we consider the personal, societal, cultural, and political issues our audience may be dealing with at the time they encounter our marketing. This is a tactful act of strategy as much as it is an act of allyship and empathy, because this insight makes your brand appear more in touch, aware, and authentic. At AMP, we loved working with Eastern Bank to bring their “Join Us For Good Good Votes” campaign to life. When transgender rights were being debated on a Massachusetts ballot in 2016 and 2018, Eastern Bank provided support to the transgender community through lobbying and rallying support, employee engagement, philanthropic assistance, and community engagement. This wasn’t just a one-time act of allyship, it’s consistent work. And we’re so proud we get to be a part of it. While Pride Month is an important time for the LGBTQIA+ community, allyship moments can arise at any time of year. Stay in the know, and act when something resonates strongly with your brand’s values and capabilities. 5. Resist “Rainbow Capitalism” and “Rainbow-Washing” When Designing Your Campaigns Custom Pride collections can be fabulous. Who doesn’t love a rainbow hoodie or “Y’all means all” bumper sticker? But they don’t often help a brand stand out from its competitors, especially not in June. And more significantly, these merchandise-based initiatives can occasionally worsen a brand’s reputation among the LGBTQ+ community, if they’re seen as rainbow capitalism or rainbow-washing. A recent CNN article defined rainbow capitalism as “the idea that some companies use LGBTQ allyship for their own gain.” In that same article, digital communication expert Chris Stedman is quoted as saying the following about Pride merch: "It feels like a violation in some ways because these companies are taking our language, our memes and our norms and using them for their own gain without fully understanding them or investing in the community. This language and imagery emerged in spaces that have been a refuge for people who haven't been safe and welcome in other communities. And I think that's why people are so bothered by it." Similarly, rainbow-washing “allows people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship,” according to Social Media Coordinator Justice Namaste in this 2018 WIRED article. If your brand is exclusively supporting the LGBTQIA+ community through branded Pride merch, you might want to rethink your strategy. Here are some starter questions to get you headed in the right direction: What has my brand previously done to support the LGBTQIA+ community? How were those efforts received? Do I feel like my brand is genuinely helping with this campaign, or does it feel like we’re checking a box? How can my brand’s unique product or service improve the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community specifically? Is my company inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community in the work environment it creates, hiring tactics it uses, and resources it provides? Are there any openly LGBTQIA+ individuals on the client team, creative team, strategy team, etc. for this project? If not, might this be an issue? Does this campaign feel authentic? Authenticity is especially important here — partly because consumers in 2021 crave authenticity, and partly because this value plays a huge role in the LGBTQIA+ community. Embracing one’s LGBTQIA+ identity means letting your real self show up in a world that doesn’t always get you or respect you. That’s incredibly authentic. This year, Getty Images partnered with the non-profit GLAAD to improve LGBTQIA+ representation in advertising. We love this campaign because it tackles a relevant issue (increasing visibility of an underrepresented group), it’s authentic (campaign links directly to the Getty Images brand), and it’s creative. Another example of authentic marketing is Verizon’s moving “Love Calls Back” campaign. In both of these campaigns, the brands have innovatively used their products and services to make the world a better place for LGBTQIA+ individuals. 6. Keep Accessibility in Mind When Creating or Sharing Content According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has a disability. And PRNewswire reported in 2018 that “among lesbian, gay and, bisexual adults, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women also identify as having a disability.” Creating accessible content is essential to allyship because many members of the LGBTQIA+ community (and their allies) have a disability. And if you want to have the most inclusive, intersectional and visible content possible, you should consider accessibility. A few starter ideas for making your brand content more accessible: Add alt text to your brand’s Instagram captions. You can either select automatically generated alt text, or customize it to add your brand’s personal flair. Use Instagram’s new automatic caption feature for Instagram Story. Learn how to improve your brand’s digital accessibility with the A11Y Project. Follow ADA-approved design guidelines. Final Thoughts Whether you’ve been an LGBTQIA+ ally for decades or are just getting started, we’re excited you’re putting the work in to become an ally year round. Remember that you and your brand aren’t always going to get it right, and that’s OK. All allies make mistakes, whether they’re individuals or Fortune 500 companies. It’s because we’re human. Making mistakes is a part of our growth process. What matters is that you hold your brand accountable in an authentic way and work to do better going forward. For example, if you accidentally misgender someone in a client meeting, apologize, correct yourself, then move on. Allyship matters all 12 months of the year, not just during Pride. How your brand shows up will be unique and ever-evolving, but it matters that you are showing up. Thank you.
AMP Agency’s VP of Business Development and Marketing, Andie Tilden Jewett, was recently featured in an Ad Age article discussing the impact the pandemic has had on working mothers in our advertising agency. Here’s what Andie had to say about it: “My first son was born at the end of February, and the world turned sideways only a few weeks later. When I returned to work, I felt severe pressure to find ways to immediately provide value to my team and company. I felt any free moment between meetings should be spent with my son, and every moment the baby was sleeping should be spent working. It’s taken many months, but I have invested time in establishing rules for myself. It’s territory I never thought I would have to navigate, but ultimately has made me a better mom and employee.” Check out the full article and feature here: https://adage.com/article/advertising/amp-spotlight-how-she-cession-has-transformed-advertising/2336626
AMP Agency recently received a Gold Distinction and an Audience Honor in the beauty category at the13th annual Shorty Awards for our work with Amway’s Artistry Studio. The work had Amway and AMP working together to promote their new skincare product line through socially relevant and creative brand storytelling across various mediums. Check out the full award-winning submission here: https://shortyawards.com/13th/work Also, be sure to check out the full Amway Artistry Studio case study here: https://www.ampagency.com/amway-artistry-studio-case-study
We’re excited to announce that Jessica Dancewicz has joined the AMP team as the new Vice President of Account Management. Dancewicz will manage the agency’s relationship with clients and leading initiatives that go beyond digital-marketing campaigns, using personalization technologies and deepening connections with customers across all touch points. Dancewicz joins AMP after a long career with MullenLowe. Check out this featured spotlight in Ad Age’s People on the move: https://adage.com/people-on-the-move/jessica-dancewicz
We’re excited to announce that Kiki Takakura-Merquise has joined the AMP team as the new Vice President of Digital Transformation. Takakura-Merquise has split her career between client and agency, and her life between Japan and the United States, bringing a depth of experience to AMP's clients. Take a look at some of her career highlights: Her vision has helped shape strategies at Alphabet/Google, Dell, Microsoft, T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom) and Toshiba. While in San Francisco, earlier in her career, Kiki worked at Nokia in CX strategy and product management, leading a global, virtual team, uncommon at that time. At a global strategic design agency in San Francisco, she was instrumental in rethinking a luxury retailer's complicated customer segmentation strategy. During the last seven years in Japan, she worked at the giant data analytics company, Alliance Data Systems: Epsilon International, now a unit of Publicis Groupe. Here’s what she had to say about the new role: "Frankly, what I have found is that a lot of clients will spend millions of dollars with some of the major, global consulting firms, for strategic plans that are not attainable," she said. "These clients basically have flushed a lot of money down the toilet. At AMP, there is a heavy focus on pragmatism. Our point of view is to help a company transform and get to the next stage in a way that is in tune with who they are and in a way that is authentic to them as an organization." Learn more about Takakura-Merquise’s position and what it means for AMP in this Adweek rundown. https://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/revolving-door-roundup-amp-agency-deutsch-ogilvy-and-more/171780/
Did you hear the exciting news? AMP Agency was named a Shorty Awards finalist for Best in Beauty for our work with Amway Artistry Studio. Amway and AMP worked together to promote their new skincare product line through socially relevant and creative brand storytelling across various mediums. Check out the work and see how we helped a beauty brand illuminate the power of skincare. Once you get a feel for what we created, be sure to vote once a day through March 31st for our work to be considered for the audience honor distinction.
AMP Agency took home 4 awards last night at the 60th annual Hatch awards that celebrates creative excellence in New England. AMP won bronze awards for the below work: “Eastern Bank’s Color & Capital for Good closing Boston’s wealth Gap” Work for Good Category “Facebook’s Gaming Just Like Us” Film Category “Stop & Shop’s On Your Terms”Design Category AMP also won a Merit award for work done with RXBAR. Be sure to check out AMP’s article featured in the Boston Globe that looks at the virtual realities of advertising and how flexibility led to a creative growth spurt in marketing in 2020.
Despite a difficult year, we made it through 2020 with the help of playful distractions like memes, dance crazes, and viral challenges. Oftentimes, brands want to tap into these cultural phenomenons in order to humanize their voice on social media. Marketers frequently question, 'How does a trend become a viral success?' and, 'Who creates these trends?'. Let's take a look at the various key players that come together to create these trends and learn how your brand can capitalize on them and join the conversation. The Innovator If we think of social media challenges holistically, the template is always the same: innovators create the idea, influencers make it popular, and the rest of the social community joins the trend. By definition, an innovator is ‘a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products’ In every viral equation, there needs to be an innovator to help spark an idea/challenge. The innovator is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle when it comes to viral trends. For example, Renegade creator Jalaiah Hermon had the most prominent dance on the internet in 2020, but most users didn't even know who she was. Unfortunately, content creators are often not given credit for their original ideas and are seemingly left in the dust. However, that isn't always the case; skateboarder Nathan Apodaca quickly rose to fame when his Ocean Spray video went viral, and others recreated the video with their own flare. The Influencer Spark Influencers help set the standard of "cool" within the digital world and help push the innovators' ideas in front of fans. TikTok influencer Charli D'Amelio was named ‘C.E.O.’ of the different dances similar to the dance craze Renegade, which she popularized. If the concept is unique and interesting, other influencers and celebs will begin to jump onto the new craze. Once a trend becomes popular, users recreate the template with small differences while always keeping the overall idea the same. During the pandemic, the ‘Don't Rush Challenge' became very popular amongst all different audiences - make-up artists, celebrities, students, and more. Less than a month later, the ‘Wipe it Down Challenge’ went viral; both of these concepts had the exact same template with small variations. Brands and Trends Being authentic on social media will encourage consumers to follow, engage, and ultimately purchase products, assuming that's the end goal. Consumers align their personal values to those of brands. Once brand values are established, a fundamental building block for brands is to showcase their personality through their content – tapping into cultural trends is a great way to humanize themselves. From a brand perspective, capitalizing on viral trends shouldn't be a hard selling point but instead, a chance to connect with your audience and showcase your brand's personality. In the summer of 2020, Twitter began to flag misleading messages about COVID-19 and the 2020 Election with 'This claim is disputed' warnings. After the Election, the disputed claim Tweet type evolved into a popular trend on the platform. Brands like Oreo, Burger King, and Maruchan saw an opportunity to participate in the pop culture conversation and added humor to the political trend. Viral memes are also a great way to highlight the brands' wit and humor. Just For Men participated in the ‘How it Started vs. How it's Going,’ and it showcased the brand's growth, wittiness, and personality. A brand can even use pop culture to sell a product when it feels native to the platform. For example, Invisalign used a soundbite from a popular viral video to help promote its product. All things considered, this doesn't mean that every viral trend is an opportunity for a brand to enter the conversation. Sometimes jumping into a conversation that isn't authentic to your brand will feel forced by consumers; for example, in 2014, DiGiorno accidentally used the hashtag ‘#WhyIStayed,’ which was about domestic violence. Prior to your brand joining a viral trend, consider the following questions: 1) Will this feel authentic to the brand's audience? 2) Can this help support the brand's values and develop the brand's personality? 3) What value will this content add to the social media space for your brand? 4) Is this the appropriate social channel for the brand? 5) Is this something you should test into first before diving in? And lastly, remember to have fun and tag the innovator to give them credit for their work!
Jacob Steinfield, Assistant Account Executive May 7, 2020 An acronym soup for breakfast: COVID, WCS, and KPIs It does not look like our distancing days are going to go anywhere soon, but even when mobility comes back – and we rise dramatically from the couch – consumer relationships with brands will have been transformed. There's some debate over habit-forming timelines. Conventionally, 21 days was the magic number needed for permanent changes to occur (based on research published in Maxwell Maltz's 1960 bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics), but more contemporary researchers have found the length closer to 66 days. Either way, our COVID journey will certainly surpass both, and we have undoubtedly developed new attitudes and conditions that will remain as the world slides back into normalcy. This is especially true in consumer expectations for brands as embedded community leaders, given the instantaneous pivot to solemn commitments to employees & customers in response to this emergency. There is a new standard for purpose from these entities: The uncountable statements of “togetherness” and ventures for collective healing will not be allowed to merely dissipate in the post-COVID era (which will not be such a binary distinction either). Learning from those who have delivered effectively and creatively in these conditions (see Light, Coors) will be imperative as consumers are more inclined than ever to use their buying power on companies whose actions and values align with their own – and uncommitted to companies who merely shouted for everyone to remember they existed. As Adweek reports from social psychologist Hillary Haley, “[People] don’t just want to be helped, they want to provide help themselves, and they’ll reward brands that act as facilitators.” Take Spotify for example. This week, they launched their Music Relief project, with a new Artist Fundraising feature that gives listeners the option to donate to their favorite artist directly or a relief initiative of their choice. Donations will be matched by Spotify up to $10M, and users are given immense freedom to provide much-needed support. During this time, our client Eastern Bank has also successfully delivered on the values of their long-standing Join Us For Good brand campaign. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have pledged $10 million in aid to those most affected, became founding donors and administrators for the $25 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, and provided pathways for people to join them in giving efforts along the way. The brand has deep roots in local volunteering and service, with this additional leadership making it clear that commitment to their communities is not new or temporary, but endemic to their brand’s DNA. Brands & marketers must consequently re-calibrate the levers they use to turn communication and brand identity into desired outcomes. This brings us to an important consonant jumble: WCS – What Constitutes Success? Achieving a quantifiable level of success is not a new challenge in the advertising space. The rise of digital marketing made the wide world of impact measurement a much more complicated game. Near infinite opportunities for companies to connect with people, ever-consuming throughout their day, creates a dizzying array of data points to synthesize. No longer is a sales lift or focus group – both limited by bias – the only ways to measure effects. We can see the resonance in real-time with brand recall and changes in buyer habits, and instantly tinker, AB test, and iterate. This can, however, restrict the horizon of our improvement targets in the endless pursuit of immediate incremental benefit. It is important to take a step back from your anchored campaign norms to identify larger potential opportunities, especially as messaging expectations change. Customers are less motivated than ever by undiluted sales pitches or vague statements of pandemic camaraderie, growingly conditioned against them, and capable of tuning out through ad blockers and nearby alternative devices. Attention needs to be truly earned, and people react positively and strongly to premises that are relevant, important, and authentic to them – especially when those messages are tied to action beyond the advertising or purely-commercial realm. As The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull reports, “[Leadership] vacuums have often been filled by brands that see social issues as an opportunity to connect with customers — especially younger ones, who want to believe that there’s a right way to spend their money.” While it may be challenging in our current circumstances to rationalize, brands are on the right track trying to compel outcomes that benefit society. In fact, consumers have growingly defined brands themselves by their social practices and philanthropic priorities. Cooperation opportunities are key for marketers to validate brands as forces of communal good, but there is a huge opportunity and need for brands to give more direction in achieving such results. While hope and community belonging are fabulous intentions, the onslaught of purpose-based messaging inundating our timelines and networks with solemn background music often do not give specific, convincing instruction to achieve these goals. This is where marrying commonly-shared desired outcomes to internal metrics of improvement can create business objectives that are sincerely important to the customer – like the aforementioned Coors activation. Coors raised spirits with a unifying metric of donating 500,000 beers, while also focusing on definitive financial impressions by contributing all merchandise profits to COVID relief efforts. Cause-based marketing may pose difficult questions for ROI, but we can use our skills in translating data-driven insights to make cause-related messages as productive as our commerce-related ones. To do so, marketers must re-define their KPIs – Key Performance Indicators Good marketers understand that true ROI is based on the lifetime value of your relationship with the customer, and the positive externalities that being in their network entails. To achieve such fruitful relationships, marketing initiatives must find a compelling way to demonstrate not just shared values, but a common purpose, all while facilitating ways to connect the two. Consumers understand that advertising is aimed to drive action, and when that action is one they consider worthy, it creates an association of aligned incentives. Considering the enormous challenges in global health, environmental protection, and human rights, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be compelled to think favorably of a campaign intentionally designed to improve these worthy outcomes. Converting favorable perception into action can be a difficult task, but brands can ignite such behavior by communicating KPIs that are meaningful to both the company and consumer. Conveying a measurable definition of success for your civic engagement program helps alleviate public concern about motives. Non-monetary KPIs can also be constructive, such as donated cans of non-perishables, volunteer hours, or shelters built. These not only create attainable goals, but valuable bonds for the company and consumers to work together toward. To build this new type of relationship with customers, brands often partner with philanthropic organizations that have endemic popular trust. It’s a form of assuaging concerns about the integrity of their efforts. However, with hundreds of brands flooding the market with cookie-cutter COVID-19 responses, such partnerships alone cannot galvanize when consumer individuality is not recognized. Advertising is often powerful because it speaks directly to a specific need, but when a sea-of-sameness permeates throughout, that influence dissipates. To break this mold, AMP helped its client GIANT Food Stores launch the national #MoreForAll campaign, aimed to mitigate panic shopping by spreading direct, actionable instructions and driving awareness through digital conversations. Across media platforms, and with influencer help, local individuals instructed followers on ways to extend the life of their produce and urged them to be considerate of their peers. AMP was able to measure overwhelmingly positive sentiment and engagement, the topic clearly resonating with followers, and GIANT was able to see definitive reductions in over-buying. Even when the COVID-19 era subsides, there is a heightened expectation and opportunity for companies to continue to support communities. Large organizations can use their scale and connections to create value beyond their immediate spheres of influence, and engrain themselves positively into the public consciousness. When normalcy returns, brands should look at the successes of these charitable causes moving forward, and see that ROI can be earned and sustained with marketing that optimizes its positive impact on consumers’ daily lives. Key Takeaways Brands are increasingly defined by their conduct as community leaders and responses to social needs Leading firms are developing stronger relationships with consumers by empowering buyers to make a philanthropic difference with their spending Cause-marketing is most effective when campaign KPIs are also pertinent to consumer ideals, and messaging clearly illustrates how specific actions by both parties can catalyze an outcome that is mutually rewarding.
The holiday season means something different to everybody. For some, it’s about snowball fights with friends and baking cookies with grandma. For others, it’s all about celebrating traditions and spending time with family. And for us at AMP, the holidays are when we as an agency get to show appreciation for our wonderful clients with a gift of our very own creation. It really has become quite the tradition – using our agency’s creative capabilities to craft something our clients can truly enjoy. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at what we made for our clients in 2018. We feel these custom-made gifts are a great way for us to connect with clients during the holidays in a way that reflects who we are at AMP. But with any good tradition, there comes a time when things need to be shaken up. That’s why instead of crafting a creatively thoughtful gift this year, we decided to do something different; something a smidge outside the box; something a bit, well, naughty. This past holiday, AMP rebranded coal as the hottest gift of the season and sent it to some of our clients on the East Coast. WHEN THINGS WENT “BAD” It all began in the heat of summer. It was mid-July, temperatures were high, and our Boston creative team thought “hey – let’s talk winter.” Because in an agency setting, timing is everything, especially when it comes to the creative process. As a team, we needed to give ourselves enough opportunity to ideate on something people would not only enjoy, but that would stick out to them amongst other gifts they’d receive. That’s why in order to get things right, the first of many brainstorming sessions started five months ahead of the holiday season. During that first brainstorming session, COAL was one of the very first concepts we came up with – although we didn’t envision the luxury branding, bold copy and seamless UX design that came out of this project right from the get-go. We simply liked the idea of elevating something from bad to badass, and we felt that a lump of coal could be a cool place to start. Since we didn’t just want to go with our first thought, so we continued to think up as many festive ideas as we could for our holiday gift. There was talk of Mrs. Claus taking over the season, mention of making a festive video game, and some serious consideration for custom-branded hot sauce. Yet after compiling our ideas into a list as long as Santa’s, COAL still remained at the very top. So we rolled with it. CHISELING AWAY With our concept in place, we knew we needed to capture the essence of COAL in a shareable format. So after lengthy discussions about what COAL truly means and days spent deciphering exactly how we wanted to bring this experience to life, we were ready to begin crafting a brand that would encourage people to “Embody Naughty” at every possible touchpoint. Building out the COAL brand began with pinning first, second and third drafts of logo exploration on a wall for full-scale critiques. From there, we sourced artists in France to craft our COAL resin cubes, tracked down decadent chocolates our clients could devour, built an eCommerce web experience from scratch, captured the look of COAL in black and white photography, and designed the perfect packaging to tie everything together. As everything came to life, we also shot an anthem video that could live on our eCommerce site and across social. Written, directed, filmed and produced entirely in-house, our COAL video took a total of four days to film, but those days were scattered throughout many late nights and lunch breaks. Once final video edits were made and the last caption for the @coal_by_amp Instagram was written, everything was ready to be sent to clients and shared with the world. THE OUTCOME By mid-December, our website was launched, our Instagram was live, and our clients were given the hottest gift of the holiday season as a token of our appreciation. Our full list of deliverables included an anthem video, an “eComm” microsite, a faux Instagram page, and a mailed COAL branded package containing a designed COAL card, a resin coal paperweight, high-end chocolates with an AMP-branded ribbon, and a nice bottle of wine with a black label. All in all, we’re quite proud of this project. Not only was COAL a unique way for us to express our appreciation for our clients, but it illustrates that when you work in a creative environment, sometimes, it’s good to be defiant. Want to score yourself a spot on the naughty list? Check out all COAL has to offer here.