#BikesWithBenefits

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

Touch Points:

  • 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:

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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!

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P.S. A special shout-out to Angela Sun for organizing the inaugural event and coordinating it seamlessly.

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#United4th: Share Your Patriotism

While most of us are absorbed in the daily grind, July 4th is a reminder to celebrate our nation’s independence and each other. With landmark issues being battled back and forth in Congress, the states feel divided.  Independence Day reminds us we’re UNITED.

This holiday weekend, Clear Channel Outdoor invites us to celebrate the 4th with the first cross-country digital billboard display of “The Star Spangled Banner.” From Albuquerque to Atlanta to Seattle to Times Square the billboards will beam the lyrics to our nation’s anthem. As you drive to the family BBQ or walk downtown to your rooftop soirée, be on the lookout for the red, white and blue billboards.

Watch a sneak preview with this moving short film (2 mins.) and hear the “Star-Spangled Banner” sung by New York-based Indie pop singer Ingrid Michaelson. I always rate a rendition of the anthem with the “chills factor”. Hers: Goosebumps galore after one verse.

This weekend, promote your patriotism with the tag #United4th. Share your slice of watermelon, your child’s face smudged with ice cream, fireworks on the Hudson and your good old-fashioned sparklers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine — and connect with Americans cross-country. Plus, your photo may appear on a future Clear Channel billboard.

#United4th, you made my Digiday!

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Brand That Mailbox!

During a recent visit, my boyfriend’s father shared that the struggling U.S. Postal Service is exploring new revenue streams. One consideration is to have brand advertising displayed on their delivery trucks. This is a logical fit as their trucks are on the constant move in every neighborhood in America. But plenty of trucks and taxicabs carry branding, so there’s nothing unique enough there to attract potential advertisers (besides the sheer volume of their fleet). Disruptive media — the unexpected — always makes for a more successful pitch.

For example, in NYC, we like our random encounters with painted cows, painted pianos and other forms of abstract public art. This summer, huge baseballs have been popping up all over the city. Yes, they make for a great photo op, but they’re really to promote the 2013 MLB All-Star Game to be held at Citifield.

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So how about branding the USPS mailboxes?

Let’s light up those permanent blue fixtures that blend into street corners. Make them pop! Branded campaigns can include treasure hunts, where random mailboxes contain clues that lead to another mailbox…and then another mailbox. Since the number of letters being mailed is on the decrease, give people a reason to stop at the blue box — to tweet a clue, scan a QR code and get in on the hunt!

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Today, it’s easy to wrap just about any structure in branding and a mailbox isn’t that big. It can be part of a Geocaching adventure, sponsored by Ford Explorer. Or a simple heads-up that McDonald’s is up one avenue.

With digital banner blindness on the rise, Out of Home advertising is what stops people in their tracks. It can also be the kickstart component that brings an Integrated Campaign to life.

Come on, USPS, Make My DigiDay!

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