Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting your plastic shoe in the door

The RWA conference room looks like a bomb hit it. Empty cans of spray mount and pieces of foam board litter the floor. A glue gun drips metallic drops of gold wax while raffia strands coil amid crumpled up tissue paper and glue dots gone bad. A cardboard box overflows with naked Ken dolls.

Um, what was that last part?

Admittedly 50 naked Ken dolls is a rather unusual item to have in a conference room (even in a creative agency like RWA), but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why we have so many commando Kens in the house. We needed their clothes.

Several months ago we were approached by a company looking to catch the attention of CEOs. Their service, a method of outsourcing CFO functions, provided many great benefits to CEOs looking for better financial reporting and forecasting. However, the company had been unsuccessful getting its message past company gatekeepers and into the hands of the CEOs it wanted to talk to. Letters and phone calls weren’t getting any response. They needed something so innovative, CEOs would have to pay attention.

Their problem is not unique. Lots of companies (including RWA) know exactly who their target is and where to find them. They have names, numbers and vital statistics. They know that their target needs their company and they know how their product or service would help them and why. If they could just get a chance to talk to their target, they know they could land a new customer. But, they are getting nowhere with letters, phone calls and e-mails. They are at a crossroads. They can give up or they can try something so different, so crazy, so completely unexpected, the target will notice whether they like it or not.

Which leads us back to the 50 naked Ken dolls.

For this client, the unexpected is a garment box containing a three piece suit complete with tie and dress shoes. The suit, of course, is empty. The message simply asks “Is your CFO an empty suit?” and suggests calling if the company needs someone who can better fill it.

Will it work? The packages go out this week so we don’t know yet. How would you respond if you got an empty suit in the mail? Would you pick up the phone and call? I would. I’d want to know what happened to Ken. Wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Collateral materials for the online world

Nothing ignites the spark in a creative’s eye more than a fat, juicy collateral project. Visions of pages of empty design space dance in their heads. In a daze, they head for their paper samples, dusting off the never-used books marked “mill item.” Finally, they think. This is what I’ve been dreaming of. This is why I became a designer.

Then reality sets in. Not many clients understand the need to spend $53,000 on a brochure when they can invest in the new C63 Mercedes AMG Sport Sedan instead. The design of a lifetime is doomed to existence only on a desktop, never in print.

Luckily, print isn’t all that in the electronic world. Today you can still produce your collateral piece and the client can get a new ride too thanks to new, virtual brochures. These virtual brochures give designers and clients a way to bring their collateral pieces to life with all the functionality of a printed piece.

More interactive than a PDF and less costly than a website, virtual books and brochures allow a customer to flip through your collateral materials as though they were holding them in hand. The electronic format also allows for music and narration. South Florida voice artist Bob Harper lends his considerable talent to virtual brochures for real estate companies, law firms and even haunted houses.

And, the investment is usually a lot less scary than print.