Last weekend, I indulged in speed-dating, but not the usual kind where a bell dings every 7 minutes. This was a weekend-long advertising strategy speed date. After being introduced to my teammates in Griffin Farley’s Beautiful Minds Competition, we were inseparable — mentally, spiritually and physically for the following 24 hours. And after making it to the finals, our date went even longer — another 4 nights!
We all had one thing in common, we wanted to find a career track where we could be creative and strategic, and we wanted to WIN.
Griffin Farley’s Beautiful Minds was created to pay tribute to a wonderful strategist who died too young. Instead of the standard scholarship fund, Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York honored their former colleague with what he did best — create groundbreaking propagation strategies and mentor aspiring strategists. Although my team had never met him, we felt his presence all weekend.
After a day of insightful lectures from renowned industry strategists, including BBH Chief Strategy Officer Sarah Watson, we were read a creative brief at 4pm, and had until 1pm the next day to deliver an impactful presentation in front of the judges. The Client: Citi Bikes. The Task: Create a strategy to increase membership to 100,000 riders by May 2014 (they currently have 50,000).
As fellow competitor Bart Motes shared on the Huffington Post, one question rang through our heads that night:
“Do you want to sleep or do you want to win?”
My group did not sleep. We gchatted, brainstormed and wrote our deck until 3am Sunday morning and met again at 9am. We were cranky, on edge and nervous. We had to present in front of judges at 1pm, and our idea still had holes in it.
Magically, and with the help of Red Bull, multiple cups of coffee and pure adrenaline, we pulled our presentation together. We also had amazing mentors Gautam Ramdurai, and Brooke Rothman who taught us the power of drawing a virtual red thread throughout our presentation. Brooke told us our communications message and strategy had to flow through to each of our touch points, so that our audience would exclaim “I got it!” when we unveiled our concept.
We assumed the other groups (10 in all) would be bitching about the NYC commute and subway hell, and how bikes afford you freedom, blah, blah, blah. We had to be different. We looked at the problem — why weren’t more people signing up for Citi Bikes? Was it because those blue metal machines were a little dorky? Seen as a tourist-mobile? Yes, maybe. So, we sexed it up.
We not only zoned in on the demographics of our target group (New Yorkers, 21-40, college-educated), but who they really were: Pleasure/adventure seekers, commitment-phobes who ignore risk, and it got us thinking about a certain type of friend…
The Magic: Bikes With Benefits
The Barrier: New Yorkers perception of Citi Bike has prevented them from letting loose and sealing the deal
Our Communications Objective: Change the target’s perception of Citi Bike from a typical transportation mechanism into an opportunity to maximize pleasure with minimal commitment
The Strategic Idea: Encourage New Yorkers to embrace Citi Bikes as a lifestyle resolution
Benefits: Affordability, Flexibility, Convenience, Disposable…
Connection Moments: Late summer/fall when people are returning to NYC and getting back in the flow; Mondays — highest signup day of the week
- Media: Out of Home and Mobile
- Outdoor TVs streaming video footage at prime docking stations. Someone cruising the docking station may get inspired to hop on and take a ride!
- Outdoor Ads: Reaching consumers while they’re peering into the subway tracks or waiting for the bus and considering alternate prospects.
- Mobile: Since 1/3 of mobile users do this in the morning — check their phones before they get of bed, we would employ dayparting, and also target ads at the end of the day when someone may be getting a late night invite.
- Experiential events: Dock-to-dock speed dating — even if there’s ZERO chemistry, you’re still burning calories! Potential partnership with How About We or OKCupid. TV special on NY1 or New York Live (NBC)
- Social: With the hastag #BikesWithBenefits, launch a crosstown competition (East Village vs. Williamsburg, Chelsea vs. FIDI) – where Citi Bike riders can spill the beans on how many bikes they’ve ridden, how many miles they’ve logged. Bragging rights for the group who’s got the most notches on their bike post!
- Digital: Equip Citi Bike’s most vocal advocates and riders with webcams so they can share their solo escapade — streamed online and on Outdoor TVs
- Word of Mouth Marketing: Provide Citi Bike members with Buddy passes to share
Our ICE-BREAKERS for creative speak for themselves:
The Result: The judge’s panel included very influential industry innovators and when their mouths were left hanging open at the end of our presentation, I didn’t know what to think. Did we go too far? Should we have toned it down?? Turns out it was a good response. We took home top honors and won the inaugural Griffin Farley’s Beautiful Minds Competition!
I involuntarily teared up, and I AM NOT the emotional type. It’s extremely rewarding to see a large group of advertising strategists (over 100 people present at the final round) — get your idea!
Cheers to Team E, you not only made my DigiDay, you made my month! #BikesWithBenefits!
P.S. A special shout-out to Angela Sun for organizing the inaugural event and coordinating it seamlessly.