Working in the marketing/advertising world means that clients are more than the most important part of your job – they are your job. You grow together, you solve problems together, but most of all you share the stress. The unique part of this industry is you manage all that with multiple companies at a time. But sometimes you have to sit back and look at how far are you really willing to go for a client? Well, I recently got to answer that question.
One of our awesome clients here at Common People United is Aunt Millie’s. If you are from the Midwest, I’m sure you know who that is, what they do, or at least have heard of them. But for those unfamiliar, Aunt Millie’s is a large bakery producing bread and other bakery products distributed throughout the United States, with primary distribution in the Midwest.
This year Aunt Millie’s summer campaign was “The Quest for the Perfect Burger.” It was initially planned as a consumer-based campaign focusing on grilling the perfect burger, but when the sales team suggested incorporating the restaurants that use Aunt Millie’s buns into the campaign, we had to come up with an additional solution. A brainstorming meeting or two later, we had tossed around a lot of ideas, but there was one that stood out. With a campaign named “The Quest,” there had to be some sort of journey to it. That’s when Alex threw out the idea, “What if Gavin just rides his bike to all the restaurants?”
All eyes are on me and I’ve ridden maybe 40 miles so far this year (not nearly enough training for a Quest of any sort), but without too much thinking I said yes. That’s the idea we pitched… and it turns out Aunt Millie’s loved it.
So now we have the approved campaign, but how do we make this actually happen? I’ve never ridden a bike tour before, and no one here at CPU has ever planned one so the challenge begins. We got a list of stops from the client, booked hotels, planned a route, planned a packing list (all in about two weeks). Then the day to leave came, quickly!
Now for the crazy part: the actual tour. Six days and 400 miles on completely foreign roads fueled by only crazy burgers on Aunt Millie’s buns and me!
The takeaway from this isn’t the bike tour – it’s the things we do for clients. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think: 1) I’d be riding a bike for work (Love my job but riding still beats sitting in a chair for eight hours, or so I thought) or 2) the entire content for a campaign would be contingent on me completing this journey. This is by far (and maybe ever) the most extreme thing I have ever done for a client.
Over those five days (I cut a day by doubling up mileage on day 2), I experienced rain, hail, wind, dogs, and close calls with cars all in the name of completing this campaign. It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life up to this point. There were times I cried in pain, threw my bike into a ditch, and wanted to quit, but every night when I got to the hotel, gathered the content from the day's trip, and realized I was closer to the end, there was a smile on my face (while I soaked my feet in an ice-filled trash can).
As the days went on, my body and mind were getting more and more broken down. Being out there for hours a day alone is extremely mentally taxing, and keeping motivation up to keep pedaling is equally as hard. This isn’t me sitting in the office strategizing a new campaign, this isn’t me buying media, this isn’t me working with a client to solve a problem—all of which can be stressful (or so I thought). This is me actually being the campaign, along with the awesome pieces the CPU team was creating with the content I was gathering.
You never really know how far you are willing to go for clients, until you go there! But you won’t ever make it there by saying “no!” (That’s especially true at the idea stage, so thanks, Alex.)
To see all the awesome content CPU created for the quest, as well as re-live my misery and eventual success, check out “Gavin’s Quest.”