“OMG, is that a samurai warrior in your illustration?!”
“Did you say a typical high school student sends 3,000 text messages per month?!”
“Have you seen the spray paint? I want to make this artillery case look really authentic.”
Overheard in the… Studio?
It’s not every day that you hear this kind of chatter around Skidmore. Then again it’s not every day we’re pitching a major manufacturer of lacrosse and hockey gear with ideas and creative that literally came from every single person in our studio. But this was one of those days.
Well, actually, it was more like one of those month-long processes that began when our friends at Warrior Sports said they were looking for a new agency of record. Word was they wanted a fresh vision, and knew right away that Skidmore was the kind of place that could deliver in spades.
We’d already done product videos, print collateral and an iPhone app for Warrior over the past couple years, and now they were ready to kick it up a notch. The Creative Brief loosely described their core objectives, and left it up to our imaginations to figure out how to get there. Dangerous…we’ve got overactive imaginations! A lot of them.
Creatives Gone Wild
To make this pitch, we brought the whole studio together, poured over the RFP and then broke into teams to start bringing this thing to life. The Research Team dug deep into the world of lacrosse, performing surveys, mystery shopping, focus groups and customer interviews, not to mention racking up (what we assume to be) the most Google searches for “lacrosse” in a one-week period. Their hand off was — no lie — a 50-page internal research document that became the launch pad for our Strategy Team.
The Strategy Team got happy with the whiteboard and even had to install a couple new ones to hold the awesomesauce they were coming up with – everything from traditional to digital media, POPs to experiential marketing. All focused on a core idea that became the rallying cry for our pitch, “Go to War.”
After drilling down to the heart of the lacrosse player, we found that these young athletes look at their sport as a battle, their playing field as a battleground and themselves as warriors. With a badass attitude like that, and a client named Warrior, “Go to War” made perfect sense.
The studio’s designers, illustrators and motion graphics artists were more than excited to bring their amazing creativity to a campaign with such strength and energy. It started with a conceptual exploration that led to a studio-wide critique of dozens of creative concepts. The conversation was lively and the decision was difficult, but ultimately there was a gravitational pull in one direction and so we started to get tactical.
Storming the Presentation
Our research was solid, our strategy was innovative and our creativity was unmatched, but we had to tie it all together. So we developed a faux campaign that visualized how all these disparate elements worked as a collective whole. Print ads became companion pieces to mobile events. A Facebook game tied in with a set of retail posters. Websites connected to a 30-second video spot.
And then came D-Day. We finished our creative, put the final touches on our presentation, loaded it all in the artillery case (wasn’t joking about that), and marched into Warrior to deliver a truly extraordinary set of studio-wide creative. It was a packed house and the mood was electric. After “ooohs” and “aaaaahs” during the presentations, we were rewarded with smiles and handshakes after it was over.
Sometimes Nobody Wins
We waited a week or so to hear how it all shook out and in the end, it didn’t go our way. Although, to be honest, we didn’t actually lose. At least not to someone else. In the end, Warrior decided it wasn’t ready to make that big of a move.
If we didn’t say we were a little bummed, we’d be lying. But, like we said when we started telling this story, it’s not every day you get to use the skills and talents of everyone in the studio and create a body of work that is truly innovative and jaw dropping. We still love Warrior and continue to produce one-off projects with them with as much energy and enthusiasm as we put into our pitch. To sum up our perspective with a favorite design studio cliché: It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Game, consider yourself played.