By Jacque Beamer
As I drove home to Mt. Vernon, I anticipated a traffic nightmare and called my staff to take Friday off. This gave everyone a four-day weekend. I did go to work, and it was a ghost town.
The State Department of Transportation did an excellent job recommending everyone to stay away. Social media was buzzing; photos and videos went viral. Even the BBC picked it up.
Not only did the bridge quickly sink, so did the local economy. The day after the collapse, I sent messages to key leaders with an offer to help. Within a week, the Governor and Department of Commerce granted $150,000 to market the region through the Economic Development Association of Skagit County (EDASC).
We received an RFQ after 5pm on Thursday (responses were due at 9am on Sunday)—a large scope with a super-tight timeline. The RFQ was sent to 14 agencies from Bellingham to Seattle.
That night I went home and strategized on my own. Friday I brought my notes and thoughts into the office, reviewing them with the team. Given the scope and timeline, we needed help and we knew the proposal and project would benefit from specialists.
We set forth assembling additional team members, matching to strengths. BrandQuery would lead creative, direction, management and coordination, while outside teams would focus on media relations, social media, media buying and production.
Over the weekend, with everyone’s input, I built a response and delivered the proposal via email at 8:40am Sunday. By 2pm Monday, we were selected. The other team members included Strategies 360, Strategic Media Alignment and Hand Crank Films.
The same day as our selection, we met with the client at 4pm, where we reviewed the problems at hand—and there were many. We determined that social and earned media would focus on turning the negative into a positive and deliver clear communications locally and in the Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. metro areas. Creative would work on identifying the special things that draw people to the region.
Long into Tuesday night we worked on fleshing out our ideas, refining them and preparing them for presentation.
Wednesday we presented our plan, including two concepts for creative (as requested). The plan was well-received and we walked away knowing the client selected the better concept for creative.
At 6am Thursday, we began filming, knowing we had to get everything shot in one day to meet our schedule. The sun was shining and we traveled more than 80 miles in all to set up shoots in nine uniquely diverse locations.
Editing took place over the weekend. We added music from a local band and on Monday delivered four TV commercials (sample frame at right). With minor edits, the final commercials were delivered on Tuesday, eight days after our selection.
All other work, including radio scripting, production, media relations, story pitching, Facebook and Twitter postings and supporting graphic design all was initiated when shooting began, and was produced through the end of June.
We launched on KOMO, KING, CTV and Global (BC Markets) June 17. Radio began the same day. The temporary bridge opened on June 19th; our launch strategy paid off. Immediately, everything seemed to return to normal. The campaign concluded on July 5th.
We created a successful campaign that worked—and in just one week. The DOT had initially and emphatically stated that the area was closed. We countered that message with a strong message of our own: “Come in, We’re OPEN.”
Every element of the campaign was carefully planned for comprehensive coverage on a small budget. We remained agile, addressing issues as they arose while keeping the “open for business” message in the forefront. It worked and we got people moving and spending again.
A great client is key to a successful project. Terica Taylor of EDASC, the client representative, helped the project immensely; she was available, trusting and flexible throughout the project.
Recently, an employee at a large auto dealership in Skagit County told me, “We were amazed how quickly the campaign was completed. And once it was launched, we noticed a considerable uptick in our business!”
That’s what it’s all about.
Jacque Beamer is president and brand strategist at BrandQuery, based in Mt. Vernon, which she founded in 1993. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.