We just celebrated our 20th year of taking the entire agency away for 2 days and 2 nights of reaffirmation of who we are and prognostication on who we’re about to be. These are this year’s opening remarks from Steve Red that offer up the reason it’s all so important to us.
So was every person who’s ever worked here. Maybe not as you, but as part of a belief that started with 2 young creatives in an attic in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
We didn’t set out to make an ad agency.
WE SET OUT TO BUILD A CULT OF BELIEF.
And everyone that’s ever joined us, no matter how long they’ve stayed or when they’ve come, has had at least a little of that belief inside them.
You didn’t find that belief when you got here. It’s the reason you got here. You were already us. You already believed that it’s better to be a band of renegades. Rebels. Insurgents. Outlaws. Cowboys. You already believed that it’s better to ride out on the fringe. You already believed that it’s more satisfying to leave the first tracks. And that it’s better to be the ones storming the castle than to be the ones living safe and content behind its walls. You were all born with that little voice inside your head that screams bloody murder if you let up. Or stop short. You all came with itchy trigger fingers. You all already pushed yourselves to punch above your weight and stick and move until you find a way inside. You already wanted to take care of business on Main Street at high noon with the town’s people watching. Maybe outnumbered but never outdone.
You already instinctively knew “the idea is the boss” and that “all” is better than “one” and that “we” is better than “I”. Because you all came with humble inside you right next to hungry. And restless inside you right next to respect. You already believed that new territory is the only territory worth claiming. You already wanted to be unforgettable. You already knew how to see with your gut when the lights go out. And block out the fear when the spotlight goes on.
It’s belief that’s run through the building and the people in it, no matter when, no matter who. It’s the reason we’ll look down the wave of tomorrow…and drop in. It’s the reason we’ll lean out over the edge with only the strand of a new idea holding us up. It’s the reason we’ll continue to go beyond making ads and onto discovering ways to create influence and lasting affect. It’s why we’ll continue to seek companies and people and partners that believe they can leave a lasting imprint on the world.
It’s why we’ll always stand together. And charge over the hill together. It’s why we’ll always boil with beautiful idealism and stubborn innocence. It’s why we’ll always ride fast; drink hard and challenge the whole world to fucking bring it on.
“When you exchange business cards, present your card with 2 hands and bow.”
A little tip someone offered before we left for Hong Kong and it was stuck in my head as we neared touch down.
We were on our way to help lead a brand summit with our partners at William Grant & Sons on behalf of Reyka Vodka. We’ve been working on the Reyka brand for about a year now but this was our first opportunity to rally markets in the east around the vodka from Iceland.
We’d heard “they’ll have a more rational view of marketing, less about the ‘emotional side’ of brands” and “it will be more formal.” I guess that was the reason the “business card custom” was dancing in my head. Don’t get us wrong, we’re as rational as they come when necessary and we’re told we look pretty good in a suit. But we’re really excited about Reyka and we were excited to make them excited. So we didn’t want anything to get “lost in translation.”
After stepping off the plane and into the city that looks like a mash-up of New York, San Francisco and the city in Total Recall, we kicked off 2 days of meetings. Yes, everyone handed off their business cards with two hands and a little bow (which we must say, adds a bit of lovely grace to that old business ritual) but probably the more relevant thing we quickly found was that on the rational to emotional scale, our new friends from Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and China were – how should we describe this – more amped than we were. We quickly became one big Reyka passion machine. And formality was kept to the business card thing.
And then they took us to dinner. But that’s for another post.
As we stepped outside, after spending two days of working in a dimly lit tunnel, we got a chance to stand back and look at what we had just created. Sure, it was for our client, but it told us something about ourselves as an agency too.
But before we get into all of that, let's go back to where it all began.
Last summer, Under Armour asked us to help them build some excitement around the reveal of the new kit they designed for English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur.
What we presented was a digital experience that called on Spurs fans everywhere to don their team apparel and upload photos of themselves proving that they are the most passionate fans on the planet. Their reward? The chosen photos would forever become a part of White Hart Lane. The home stadium and hallowed ground for Spurs fans everywhere.
But once we had the idea, the fun began - how the hell we were going to pull it off?
We constantly find ourselves trying to do things we've never done before. It's always a challenge. Because, basically If we've never done it, how do we know that we're doing it right?
For this project we fittingly had the help of two guiding principles: "I Will." The mantra of Under Armour. And, "To Dare is to Do." The motto of Tottenham Hotspur. And with those words to inspire us, we charged forward.
A project that at the onset seemed like it would be handled by a small team slowly built into something that brought together nearly every part of our agency. Strategy, account management, creative, digital, social, print production and everyone in between.
Over next few months, we saw the project come to life right in front of us as images of cheering fans flooded in from all over the world. And then it was in the hands of a small RTO+P team who sat on planes ready to cross the Atlantic and complete the final phase - literally building the new wall of fans inside The Lane. It was to become a monument to the most passionate Spurs fans in the world in the form of 2400 individual photos.
Inside the player's tunnel we began, one by one, placing the photos on the wall in the exact spot digitally chosen by the fan in each photo. Seeing the pride in the team that each of these photos represented made the whole experience truly memorable. It was as if they were right there with us.
Two days later, the installation was complete. The photos of 2400 fans are now the first thing seen by Spurs players as they exit their locker room to take to the pitch before a match. A first of its kind monument to the passion that fans bring to the game and an enduring message to the Spurs, forever showing fan gratitude for their heroes.
But our work wasn't finished.
After a brief step back to admire what we'd pulled off, we headed back to our hotel which became an editing suite for the next few days. The final feather in the cap of this assignment was a video revealing the completed wall to the world prior to the Spurs match in just three days time. And it was watching that video on the Jumbotron sitting amongst tens of thousands of cheering Spurs fans before the match that we knew we had helped create something truly special.
And with the cheers ringing in our ears we flew back home. And on to the next thing.
P.S. Click here to watch the video