Shiny New Year and Shiny Object Syndrome

Research has shown that human nature has historically been attracted to shiny new things. They’ve even named it the “Shiny Object Syndrome,” defined as “a disease of distraction” that often affects entrepreneurs and visionary business leaders. It’s the tendency to chase down new and exciting products, services, and ideas, only to abandon and lose interest once acquired or achieved. It often creates significant disruption for any organization and the strategic path it has been traveling down.

Shiny Object syndrome does not discriminate. It affects all of us at some point. The new iPhone madness; a newly redesigned car; the latest Netflix show; the Paleo and now Keto diets; the Instant Pot—the list of products, services, content is never-ending.

In the context of marketing and advertising, almost every agency, marketing, digital, social, and public relations, has suffered tremendously from the Shiny Object Syndrome, especially over the last several years. While we’ve seen significant technological advances in access to data and connecting with new and existing customers, we at Camp suspect our industry has lost sight of our reason for being. The industry has been quick to adopt new approaches at the expense of discarding existing (and often, effective) ones.

It’s easy for us to confuse the means with the end. All these new products and services, and advances, should be solely focused on being better means of connecting with our audience base and growing that relationship. If you make the Shiny New Object the end (be all), then you become susceptible to irrelevancy once a new and better tool is released. Before you strike us down with fury and indignation, we’re not dismissing the need for, and power of, adopting new and exciting ways to further grow our clients’ business. It’s just not smart if you’re building a sustainable business, and can often create confusion and inefficiencies with clients and their budgets.

We weren’t surprised to read AAR’s recent article about the necessity of focusing on human connections for successful future marketing; to focus on utilizing data and technology to forge a more innovative and authentic connection. This isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a profound observation but it seems like an important and necessary reminder.

Our job as marketers is to grow our client’s business. Our job is to discover and activate the appropriate tools, processes, and platforms that help achieve growth. Our job is to create growth with more enduring, and human, connections with brands and people. Let’s not confuse that with the latest new and bright Shiny Object.

Learn more about how Camp grows brand through stewardship and creativity, and check out our work here.

January 10, 2019

Our Go-To Tacos from Around Austin

Having a go-to taco is a requirement of residency here in Austin, and we at Camp felt like it was our civic duty to share our favorites from around town. Here are our Austin taco recommendations (mostly of the breakfast variety) from a few of our Campers.

Clark: El Rey from Fresa’s on 9th and Lamar

Jeff: Migas Taco from Veracruz All Natural on East Cesar Chavez St.

Ashley: Migas Taco from Habanero’s on West Oltorf St.

Brooks: The Real Deal Holyfield from Valentina’s on Manchaca Road in South Austin

Jill: Sirloin, egg, cheese (add avocado) taco with Dona sauce from Tacodeli on North Lamar in the the Rosedale area

December 12, 2018

Camp's 2018 Austin City Limits Music Fest Schedule

With the 2018 Austin City Limits Music Festival right around the corner, we felt it was time to get our weekend itinerary ironed out. Unfortunately for us, scheduling a full music fest is difficult when you don’t even recognize half the names on the lineup. So, naturally, we did what any agency would do, and handed the lineup to our youngest employee and let them plan our weekend for us. Check out our picks for each day of the fest below, complete with annotated musings from a 23 year old Jr. Art Director.

Be sure to plan out your own schedule for weekend one here. We are excited to join all of you at Zilker Park for both weekends, and remember to stay safe and hydrated out there!

September 28, 2018

Behind the Campaign - "Go Horns Go" Capital Metro

For small advertising agencies, it’s generally accepted that you have to outsource the execution of your big ideas to production companies. However, at Camp, we found a way to produce our Go Horns Go campaign for Capital Metro right here in-house.

The goal of the campaign was to get incoming University of Texas freshmen accustomed to riding the bus freely around Austin, and more importantly, experience and fall in love with the city the same way we have.

The plan was to settle into a design style and look, then animate the campaign ourselves. Simple line-art illustrations inspired by in-flight airline safety manuals seemed completely right for quick, bus-themed tutorials targeting university students. Once we started animating it became clear we’d be able to stretch the budget and produce more assets by keeping the project in-house.

Capital Metro provided invaluable insights about the city and UT students, and gave us creative freedom to execute the campaign. A central idea that guided the campaign was that it absolutely had to feel like Austin. Everything – the people, places, clothes, humor, etc. – had to be anchored to the city or it wouldn’t work. So we got a little weird, and started brainstorming all things Austin.

The ideas seemed to never end, but we finally stopped, sorted through everything, and chose the best 10 tutorials. Then we jumped right into production. We realized pretty quickly that if we were going to animate everything in-house, we would need a little extra help getting every single asset drawn, colored, rigged, and animated in a timely manner. We hired our good friend and local Austin graphic designer Lauren Dickens to provide illustrated storyboards for every video, which were then prepped to become animation ready by our in-house animator. Working collaboratively with Lauren, we were able to complete all 10 videos quickly. Plus, having her put her creative stamp on the work with her unique view of Austin through her illustrations and ideas was fantastic.

Once the animation work was complete, it was time to move on to one of our favorite parts of production: sound. We partnered with one of our longtime collaborators, and Austinite, Eric Friend of Optical Audio. His experience working on Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill made him a perfect fit for the crude cartoon-y style of this campaign, and we think his expertise definitely shows in the final product.

We found that the best way to execute the goodwill of Capital Metro was to utilize Austin’s people, and resources, as much as possible. Working with a client willing to go along for the ride with us, and trusting us to execute this campaign in a funny and authentic way, was what ultimately allowed this campaign to shine.

July 18, 2018

Account Service vs. Account Stewardship

service: noun | useful labor that does not produce a tangible commodity

stewardship: noun | the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care

Advertising agencies are technically in the service industry. But when you read the definition of service, it doesn’t seem like the bar is set very high. It’s great to be on time, efficiently work your way down a to-do list, and avoid mistakes, but shouldn’t we be offering our clients high quality, proactive excellence across the board that successfully moves their business forward?

The Account Service team is a vital part of the agency, but you may not be seeing their full potential. Are they leading your business forward? Are they acting as an extension of your own marketing team? Do they have a deep understanding of your business goals? Are they constantly pushing their team (and your team) to achieve those goals? If not, you have a service provider, not a steward.

“Clients expect their agency counterparts to know their business. It isn’t about becoming the product manager. It isn’t about line extensions. It’s about bringing your communications expertise to the specific objectives of the business. It’s about bringing new thinking that works within the realities of your client’s brand and budget. This is the job of account management. And if your account team isn’t doing it, no one is. Not planning. Not business insights. Not media. They have their own strategic fish to fry.” (Ad Age)

So, how does Camp do Account Stewardship? There are three main pillars:

It starts with the relationship: We are more than just “Yes Men.” We are curious, inquisitive, multi-disciplined, and collaborative. We learn everything we can about your business and work with you every step of the way to meet your business goals. That’s right, your business goals – we’re not just here to win awards for ourselves.

Transparency sets us apart: We’re not afraid to have honest conversations. Whether it’s about budgets, campaign results, or changing market dynamics, the only way to build trust and a lasting partnership is through transparency.

Proactive leadership: We are not just task masters here to fulfill a list of deliverables. We bring fresh, strategic ideas from a new perspective, making a point to stay educated in the latest trends and technologies so you, our client, are always in the know.

Ask yourself, is your account team in the service business, or are they a steward for your brand? Stewardship can be the difference between an order taker and a true partner – make sure your brand is entrusted to the care of a steward.

June 12, 2018

Building Brand Goodwill

Does your Brand have Goodwill?

This isn’t a trick question, yet most brands and companies might not know the answer. At face value, brand goodwill means consumers have a general feeling of approval and support. Dig a little deeper and brand goodwill can mean so much more.

Goodwill can be defined as a favor or advantage that a business has acquired through its brand and good reputation. At Camp, we think a brand’s goodwill must be the single most valuable point of difference that only it can own and/or claim. This is the key to a goodwill strategy.

The powerful combination of these two factors (favorable advantage and unique brand offering) offers unlimited possibilities for business growth across a wide variety of key performance indicators such as increased brand affinity, brand loyalty, sales increases, and more traffic (in-store and online) to name a few.

Goodwill isn’t just good feelings, it’s where good feelings intersect with a clear business advantage. This intersection drives the strongest results.

Goodwill for All Brandkind

Every brand has the opportunity to leverage their own goodwill in the marketplace. But it requires a shift in thinking specific to crafting meaningful communications and connections. Brands too often are more focused on what they can get from every point of consumer connection versus what they are offering the consumer. It’s a simple notion but one that goes a long way in establishing genuine relationships with your brand.

Consumers have a low tolerance for inauthenticity and self-centeredness. And now, they have the platforms to make their intolerance known loud and clear. There is an art to communicating what consumers need to know about a brand, product or service, and conveying how it brings value and goodwill to their lives. Brands are now expected to bring more to the table for consumers. In essence, it’s a service mentality—what can brands truly do/provide/share/enhance for their consumers.

That’s the trick. How do you identify a brand’s goodwill and serve it up to consumers in the most compelling, motivating, and unselfish way? The answer is different from one brand to the next, but with the right planning and insights there can be Goodwill for All Brandkind.

May 11, 2018

Austin-based Blackboard Co. relaunches as Camp, promoting “Goodwill for all brandkind.”

Austin-based Blackboard Co. has officially re-launched as Camp—an independent, full-service advertising agency dedicated to “Goodwill for all brandkind.”

“Every brand has a single most valuable truth which distinguishes it in the marketplace. We call it a brand’s Goodwill, and we’re ruthless about leveraging it for every client.” says Clark Evans, Camp’s Founder and Creative Director.

Established in 2009 by Clark Evans and Jeff Nixon, the agency began as a creative boutique primarily focused on project-based work for clients such as HomeAway, Tillamook Cheese, Nike, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Evans and Nixon, both Creative Directors from agencies such as BBDO, Chiat/Day and GSD&M, wanted to capture a part of the growing market of assignments that were being unbundled by larger AOR clients.

Over the last two years, the agency has evolved and been on a mission to restructure and build a better, stronger agency that reflects current marketplace dynamics and better serve clients’ needs. Part of the evolution from Blackboard Co. to Camp has been a focus on putting the right team in place to deliver the agency’s mission, and growth strategy. Evans and Nixon built an experienced, well-rounded leadership team that includes Tracy Arrington and Ashley Andy.

Arrington, EVP, Media and Operations, leads the media department after spending many years in leadership positions at agencies such as GSD&M and The Davis Group. In addition to shaping the minds of future talent as a part-time University of Texas professor, she is well known for her ability to guide clients through an ever-changing and complicated media landscape.

Andy recently joined in the role of EVP, Growth and Strategy with an emphasis on business development and strategic stewardship for all clients. With 20+ years experience at GSD&M, Mullen and TM Advertising, she provides collaborative brand and strategy stewardship for Camp’s clients and loves to uncover the insights that disrupt category conventions.

Andy says, “While the entire industry seems to be in an unbundling phase, we believe our AOR model is a powerful pushback. For clients who spend $5M-$20M annually, any efficiencies gained through unbundling are easily offset by the advantages of our high-level AOR services, delivered by a team that works together under the same roof, every single day.”

In 2017, the new leadership team celebrated three key client acquisitions with the addition of Capital Metro, Extraco Banks, and Norwegian Airlines. Additionally, their relationship with SYLVANIA Automotive expanded to U.S. Agency of Record status in spring 2017, followed by being named AOR for SYLVANIA Canada in fall 2017.

With the combination of a new mission, leadership team, and several successes already under their belts, Camp is looking forward to big things in 2018.

About CAMP:

Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Austin, Texas, Camp, formerly known as Blackboard Co. is an independent, full-service advertising agency relentlessly focused on promoting “Goodwill for all brandkind.” Clients include: SYLVANIA Automotive (U.S. and Canada), Extraco Banks, CapMetro, Friedrich Air Conditioning, and Norwegian Airlines.  

February 01, 2018