Saturday, February 10, 2007

Back to Life, Back from "Reality"

A lot of my expectations about my experience at "Camp Organic" were met -- I stayed up late, ran around Vegas like a crazy person, and worked very hard while I was here. I got in on Wednesday. Starting at 5PM that day I was essentially "off to the races". There were approximately 30 fellow Organic employees and a handful of "Camp Counselors" meeting here at the Palms Hotel & Casino. We were divided into groups of four or five people that were both cross-office (New York, Toronto, San Franciso, Detroit) and cross-discipline (Business Development, Creative, Finance, Engagement Management, and Engineering made up my group). Everyone was given a fake product (a multi-fuel vehicle), a target demographic, and a "sin" used as a lens to focus our findings.

Of the seven deadly sins, ours was Pride and our target demographic was late-20s/early-30s well-to-do white males. More than the "proud" aspect of the sin, we concentrated on the "vanity" piece. While we fought like crazy (our perceptions, not each other) to not put our demographic into the stereotype we all had, he ended up being very much that person. Quite a bit of him ended up being "Jack" from FIGHT CLUB:

I am Jack's raging bile duct Narrator: My dad never went to college. - So it was real important that I go.
Tyler Durden: That sounds familiar.
Narrator: So I graduate. Call him up long-distance and say, "Dad, now what?" He says, "Get a job."
Tyler Durden: Same here.
Narrator: Now I'm 25. Make my yearly call again. "Dad, now what?" He says, "I dunno. Get married." You can't get married. I'm a 30-year-old boy.
Tyler Durden: We're a generation of men raised by women. I'm wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.

That "30-year-old" boy line kept coming to mind. Couple that with our research (where we often had to bluff people) dealing with automotive and I kept thinking of and quoting this one:

Woman: Which car company do you work for?
Narrator: A major one.

I won't go into all the gory details of strip clubs, Rolex stores, craig's list, bachelor parties, table service, exotic vehicles, and sushi bars. Let's just say that our group covered a lot of ground and used a lot of innovative techniques to gather data on our group and begin to draw up a marketing plan. We started working on our conclusions around 7PM on Thursday and most of us went to bed at 4:30AM Friday morning (one of our members stayed up until 5:30AM putting the finishing touches on our presentation).

Team Pride The experience was amazing. While it felt at times like an episode of "The Apprentice" as I anticipated (sometimes we would use that to telegraph our intentions and "the game" we were playing to our subjects), there was no in-fighting or back-stabbing in our group. We got along remarkably well, even with a lot of strong personalities and differing points-of-view. If anything, it was one of those situations where being from our various cities and backgrounds just enhanced everything and made the bonding even stronger. After watching the other six presentations and doing ours, we continued to hang out with each other; drinking, celebrating, and bullshitting like war buddies.

I'm a sucker for compliments and I got more than my fair share when we were putting everything together. I was zinging out taglines like nobody's business. I can’t claim the central theme to the campaign, "Everything else is just traffic". It, like all of our other taglines, had a dual meaning. I'm all about dichotomy, especially when one meaning would appeal to our target's vanity while the other could be viewed as a much happier/fuzzier sentiment.

The other good news is that we came in second place (the guys that beat us completely deserved it -- they kicked even more butt than we did) and learned a lot while doing it. It turned out that all of my fears and grousing were for nought.

All right, I'm off to the casino floor before heading over to the airport. My flight's been delayed for two hours, thus far, and I just got more and more impressed with the ineptitude of Northwest Airlines each trip I take.

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