When you think about it, it’s how all new business pitches should really be done.
In a bold move that impressed the client and tourism commissioners, we hit the road in an RV to pitch the Mississippi Gulf Coast account.
Although this took place a few years ago, it's still a great story and it demonstrates a different kind of creative thinking; how you do things is sometimes as important as what you do.
We (TURKEL Brands, Miami) were invited to pitch the Mississippi Gulf Coast Tourism account. After discussing different ways to approach this, we agreed that to have a chance of winning this business, we had to do something out of the ordinary. Sitting in our air-conditioned offices in Miami wouldn't teach us a thing about the Mississippi Gulf Coast and it's visitors who are in the drive-market category. I grew up camping with my parents and loved it, so I suggested we hit the road in an RV and do the pitch on the road and on location. The ECD and my fellow creatives loved the idea, and a plan was set in motion.
We left Miami in a 32-foot Winnebago RV, with nothing prepared for the June 18th presentation in Biloxi. But armed with layout pads, markers, laptops, digicams, junk food, and our lucky brainstorming T-shirts, we went to immerse ourselves in the area’s sights, sounds, tastes, and culture. Everything for the presentation was created on-board the RV after we arrived in Mississippi.
“What we did was unusual, but when you think about it, it’s the way all pitches should really be made. There’s far too much guesswork. Far too much reliance on hunches. We uncovered compelling facts, truths, and previously unconsidered tactics." Bruce Turkel said to Fast Company magazine afterwards.
"Others came here to see what we have to offer tourists but no one did it to the extent TURKEL did,” Richer from the Mississippi CVB said. “They acted like tourists and wrote a creative plan while they were here.”
Research is terrific, but it usually doesn't give you the emotional insight and the full story of a place. We sat at RV parks with folding chairs, cold beer, guitars, and harmonicas and talked to the other guests staying there. People will talk more if you talk to them like that, in a relaxed setting - as long as you have the aforementioned cold beer. We got an impression of why people go to the area and why they’re going somewhere else.
We learned that people’s lives often were boring and they needed some excitement once in a while. They would go to the Gulf Coast for a change of pace, to spin the casinos’ slot machines and roulette wheels, to hit some golf balls, and to feel the sand between their toes. Based on that, we came up with the tagline Take your life out for a spin, and created ads, storyboards, and other elements to communicate that Mississippi Gulf Coast is the place to go when you want to get away from the daily humdrum.
We won the business, beating out 100+ agencies, and over the next couple of months we shot TV commercials with director David Orr and produced ads and collateral with photographer Jens Honore. It came out great and the new campaign was launched mid-August, a few weeks before hurricane Katrina hit the area, devastating the entire Gulf Coast. Sadly, the beautiful beaches, the historic antebellum estates, the homes and lives of thousands of people were washed away, as was the need for a clever ad campaign.
One can say that it was hurricane Katrina that took the Mississippi Gulf Coast out for a spin.
View examples from the campaign: