We love to kick off the holiday countdown with our new favorite: Giving Tuesday (thanks social media for not being all selfie all the time)! It gives us all a chance to double down on contributions to nonprofits that are near and dear to our hearts with a matching donation on Grow. Although we could write a novel about all of the worthy causes we love to support, we wanted to highlight seven groups that we are especially excited to give to this year.
Best Friends Animal Society: For over 30 years, Best Friends has been committed to ending pet homelessness by running the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals and working with shelters nationwide to increase adoptions and reduce kill rates in animal shelters. Tami donates her time and resources to help Best Friends achieve their goal, most recently traveling to their amazing Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah to volunteer.
Heifer International: Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty while caring for the earth. Donations go toward placing farm animals with needy families (and make a great holiday gift in a loved one’s name!), providing long-term sources of nutrition and resources. Gabrey is donating to Heifer International because of their impactful work and for the sustainability behind their model.
East Bay SPCA and San Francisco SPCA: The entire Grow team has been touched by San Francisco SPCA. Several of our team became “foster parents” to a sweet kitten Patra (now happily adopted!), and Kelcy recently added two cuddly kittens to her family from the East Bay SPCA. Kelcy is donating to support their medical services, foster programs and a new “fospice” program to bring care and joy to animals in their twilight years.
GirlVentures: GirlVentures’ mission is to empower adolescent girls to develop and express their strengths through working with them during the transition from childhood to young adulthood. As the mother of an almost-ten-year-old girl, Cassie is a strong supporter of cultivating leadership skills in young women to help them reach their full potential, she loves GirlVentures’ strategy of drawing on every girl’s natural strengths.
Haight Ashbury Psychological Services (HAPS): HAPS is one of the very few remaining nonprofits that provides essential mental health services on a sliding scale to the Bay Area community. As a former psychotherapist and current board member at HAPS, Sarah donates her time and resources to ensure that counseling services are available to all who need them, regardless of their financial or life circumstances.
Charity: Water: Right now, 663 million people worldwide are living without clean water—that’s almost 10% of the world’s population. Charity: Water works to bring sustainable sources of clean water to those in need. As a child, Neel traveled to countries across the world where families don’t have access to clean water. Witnessing water insecurity firsthand was an eye-opening experience, and is why he’s donating to Charity: Water.
Produce to the People: Many San Francisco residents live without easy access to fresh, nutritious food. Produce to the People is dedicated to providing fresh food to SF residents via community gardens, food education and the creation of green jobs for youths. Ali became passionate about these issues while growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, living only 20 minutes from a food desert, where the jarring discrepancy between those with food security and those who relied on convenience stores for nutrition was apparent.
Meow there, my name is Patra (as in Cleopatra), and I’m just going to say it—my regal name becomes me. My glossy black coat and slim figure are a nod to my namesake, but I’m more than just a pretty face. My purr goes on forever, and I’m known as the best cuddler south of Union Street. I believe in honesty and direct communication—the only games I’m interested in involve chasing shiny toys around in circles. My ideal date would be stalking a fluffy pink ball followed by a Netflix and belly rub marathon.
One thing that’s hard for me to share is that life hasn’t always been easy for me. I didn’t have a family for the first few weeks of my life, which made it hard for me to come out of my shell. But after the San Francisco SPCA brought me to a week-long life coaching seminar (ok, cuddles and playtime) with my friends at Grow, I’m a whole new kitten and am ready to settle down with my soulmate.
In an effort to shed light on the importance of fostering Forgotten Kittens to facilitate adoptions and open up space in local shelters, Grow partnered with the SF SPCA to pilot a new program, Office Cats. Forgotten Kittens refer to slightly older kittens who didn’t have as much engagement during the first few weeks of their lives and, as a result, are initially more shy and fearful of people. Since many people visiting shelters make decisions based on how interactive and interested the animals appear, being shy can be a real hindrance to finding a fur-ever home. Placing these kittens in friendly, secure foster environments—such as the animal-loving house of Grow—helps them learn to come out of their shells so they can attract potential adopters while freeing up much-needed space in shelters.
Since Patra arrived at Grow on October 19th, she has transformed from a shy, anxious kitten into a confident, affectionate, playful ball of fur. As Gwyn Johnson at the SF SPCA explained to us, “having a consistent, calm environment with lots of attention is all that most kittens need to gain confidence.” The Grow team of animal lovers knows how much a pet can enrich your life, and Patra’s presence at Grow is no exception. We’re going to have a hard time saying goodbye to her, but we’re so excited to find her a loving, permanent home!
If you’re interested in setting up an Office Cats program at your company (trust us—it’s worth it!), reach out to Gwyn Johnson at the SF SPCA at 415.522.3542 or email@example.com.
Patra here! I’m writing to you now from my new home, where I’m currently curled up safe and warm with my new family watching the rain fall. I’m so grateful to have found my forever home, but I can’t stop thinking about about all my friends back at the SF SPCA who are still waiting to be adopted. Visit the San Francisco SPCA’s website to find your purr-fect match!
We heart New York any time of year and are fortunate to have reason to be there often. While most people think of late summer as a time to head out of the city, there are plenty of gems to be experienced. Here are some of our favorite stylish and iconic hot spots to sip, savor and saunter your way through during the sweltering summer days…NYC we miss you already!
Grand Central Terminal: While millions of daily commuters and tourists frequent this famous transportation hub to check out the historical sight of the Beaux-Arts Roof or catch a train to the burbs, for us everything revolves around eating so naturally we were there to consume! From Two Boots pizza to sushi to gelato kiosks and Shake Shack burgers, GCT’s lower level concourse is a foodie paradise while the upstairs upscale market provides fresh baked goods and farm to table offerings from local purveyors.
Grow tip: Grab glass of Prohibition Punch at The Campbell Apartment tucked away in the corner of GCT and Vanderbilt Ave. Contrary to its name, this 2,000 square foot cocktail lounge was never an apartment but was once the office of 20th-Century tycoon John W. Campbell.
Photo courtesy of Navid Baraty/Gothamist
ABC Carpet & Home: Get lost in this magical 6-story flagship bazaar filled with global inspiration everywhere you look. Focusing on design and sustainability, ABC features an ever-changing eclectic collection of beautiful home decor that ignites creativity and will make you immediately want to reinvent your home or inspire a concept for a whimsical event.
Grow tip: There are two fashionable eateries with swoon-worthy interiors in the building – ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina by Michelin star Chef Jean-Georges. While it’s hard to score the perfect reservation at these gems beloved by NYC locals, we suggest grabbing a seat at the bar at 5pm when the kitchen opens for a glass of wine and selection of “consciously sourced” seasonal apps.
Photo courtesy of High Fashion Home Blog
Bryant Park: Whether grabbing a sunny spot to lounge in the grass, people watch from the bistro tables or enjoy a film under the stars, this iconic park is a welcoming oasis in the middle of midtown full of historical monuments and urban amenities that will make you forget the bustling city that surrounds.
Grow tip: Free yoga classes are available in the summer on the lush lawn where you can perfect your asanas under the trees.
Photo courtesy of Young Sok Young/Flickr
The Clock Tower Restaurant @ New York Edition Hotel: A revived clocktower from what was once MetLife’s headquarters, the Clocktower Restaurant located in Ian Schrager’s Edition Hotel was at the top of our list for new hot spots to explore. The clubhouse-like space embodies everything that is chic about NYC with its fresh, sophisticated style mixed with elegant historic nods. The eclectic environment boasts five wainscoted mahogany rooms, each distinct with a specific color scheme and photographic lens that sparks your curiosity.
Grow tip: Stop by for breakfast to admire the space before the crowds hit!
The Flatiron Room: Home to nearly 700 bottles of whiskey (both for public consumption and private storage), this 50’s era jazz lounge sets the mood with Italian floral wallpaper, a chandelier that once hung in the Smithsonian and a velvet curtained stage hosting nightly live performances that will take you back in time.
Grow tip: Order their refreshing blood & sand cocktail with The Glenlivet 12 which goes down dangerously well – “a perfect harmony of Single Malt Scotch, cherry heering, italian sweet vermouth and fresh orange juice!”
Photo courtesy of The Flatiron Room
But seriously.. how AMAZING was Elton John?! We’re still buzzing about Outside Lands here at Grow and all the fabulous ways that the music festival went above and beyond to make the experience feel ownable and unique while providing share-worthy moments of engagement throughout.
Hyper-local flavor: Outside Lands has been doing this for years, but we absolutely love love love the local support that the festival dishes out to food vendors, wineries and artists. Especially love the nod to San Francisco neighborhoods and history with stage names (Twin Peaks & the Barbary) and stand-out food favorites like Straw’s famous donut burger, The Ringmaster, and Nombe’s ramenburger.
Streamlined services: Complimentary water stations parked around the festival kept guests hydrated through the long days, while the cashless Wine Lands system kept the wine flowing! But above all else, charging stations are still the hero at any festival and it was great to see brands design beautiful spaces for guests to recoup, recharge and relax between sets.
Festival style ups: Unlike a typical concert, festivals have a unique style that is eclectic and ever changing. From this year’s floral pants and high-waisted short-shorts to bona fide costumes, having a “look” is a key part of festival attendance. Brands tapped into this passion by providing fun ways to accessorize such as flower crowns and temporary tats. The line for our Castland braid bar only shortened when the headliners came on but it was the man buns that stole the show!
Screen time: It’s a selfie, selfie world and that desire doesn’t stop just because Elton John is in the house. Chromecast gave festival goers the opportunity to shoot a fun GIF and get it on the big screens on stage while Outside Lands shared stylish Instagram posts from the crowd.
We had the best time and can’t wait for next year!
Perhaps it was the rosé we sipped while overlooking the Mediterranean Sea each balmy night, or the mouth-watering selection of artisanal cheeses and cured meats we savored each day – whichever the case, the amazing sights, sounds and scents from our trip to the French Riviera for the Cannes Lions Festival left us yearning for more.
In true Grow style, each day was packed with sensorial experiences; whether it be a client meeting within the old-school elegance and splendour of a renowned hotel, a quick bite to eat along a beachside cafe overlooking the docked yachts, or a day off spent exploring the southern region – no day was complete without an immersive discovery.
If your travels take you to Cannes here are a few of our can’t miss moments:
Le Cirque: Fresh off the plane we sought out the hyper-local flavors and tastes of the region. On a recommendation from Gerald, our native Cannes taxi driver, we pushed through the jet lag and made our first of many stops to Le Cirque Cafe Bistro, a charming gem in the center of the city that exceeded all of our Francophile expectations. Their authentic yet inventive French fare, modern yet relaxed vibe and uber friendly service kept us coming back for more – by our third visit, we felt like insiders.
Snap, Crackle, Pop: As experiential marketers, we believe the devil is in the details and we swoon over thoughtful, surprising moments. Following a productive client meeting at the iconic Carlton Cannes, the check was delivered with small, silky dark chocolates. As we put them in our mouths, we savored the decadent cacao until….snap! crackle! pop! the chocolate exploded in our mouths, just like pop rocks. Within such a refined atmosphere, this was such a fun and unexpected culinary treat for our taste buds.
Perfume Making: On an excursion to Grasse, the cradle of the perfume industry, we had the opportunity to ignite our inner “nose” and craft our own signature scents at Maison Molinard, the most iconic perfumery in the region. Hosted by the “Nose of Molinard” (read: master perfume maker) we mixed and matched a myriad of notes from raspberry to musk to anise, perfecting a multilayered olfactory creation that became our bespoke scents.
Street Scents: As you walk down rue d’Antibes, one of Cannes’ most popular shopping destinations, you can’t help but smell the sweet fragrant aromas coming out of the shops and permeating the streets. From the stylish Parisian perfumes to fresh baked croissants to seasonal fragrant flowers, walking down the narrow cobblestone streets of Cannes was truly sensorial.
Antibes Market: Within a short distance from Cannes, the covered market in Antibes know as Marché Provençal, showcased the ingredients and flavors we’d soon discover throughout Cannes cuisine in their raw form. Fruit and olives plucked from the trees earlier that day, artisanal cheeses from nearby dairy farms and handcrafted lavender soaps delighted our senses, epitomized the flavors and notes of the the region and served as our immediate immersion to the Côte d’Azur.
SUP: Beyond the hospitable, fashionable locals and dreamy beachside aesthetic, the natural beauty of Cannes swept us away. From evening walks along La Croisette Boulevard, waterfront dinners and beachside lounging, one of our favorite moments was soaking in the scene while stand-up paddleboarding along the warm, tranquil sea.
We can’t wait to go back.
Grow returns each year to SXSW, wide-eyed and eager in search of the smartest, innovative and most memorable live brand experiences. Entering this massive festival, one may think the most buzzworthy moments are those that are highly produced with inventive digital elements. After all, SXSW is a major platform for brand marketing, and the realm of digital is innovative, exciting and ever-evolving. It was through this very lens that we embarked on our SXSW journey hoping to find what’s next.
And yes, we did leave Mashable House feeling like a pop music icon.
Bridging the Online and Offline Experience
While we know high-tech, social elements can be impressive and very effective within an experience, most are only worthwhile when done well in purposeful and engaging ways. As we moved throughout the festival, the notion that brands don’t actually need the experience to have an elaborate digital component in order to garner ample social/word of mouth traction or even for a consumer to feel affinity and connection with your brand was quickly reinforced.
For example, the social photo booth, as expected, was in abundance at this years event. While it’s a crowd pleaser and turn-key way to amplify an activation, it’s no longer compelling as a stand-alone experience. It’s those brands that converged the digital and experiential with emotional touchpoints that truly created the most engaging moments for the SXSW community.
Here’s a round-up of just some of of our favorite brand experiences that had us and our SXSW peers buzzing:
The National Geographic ‘Life Below Zero” Escape The Cold
To promote the third season of National Geographic’s documentary series, ‘Life Below Zero’, intrigued (and brave) SXSW-goers were invited to partake in an escape the cold experience.
The premise of the game involved being assembled into a team of 6 – and prepared to plunge into the icy conditions of Alaska. As the temperature drops inside the room – 20 degrees lower than the current outside temperature – the team would be forced to connect clues, complete challenges and solve puzzles in under 20 minutes in order to survive.
Having never participated in such a ‘survival’ experience before, we jumped at the opportunity. Aside from tweeting with a hashtag in order to receive a clue, as well as a team watching your progress remotely via a camera and monitor, there were no other digital elements integrated into the game. Perhaps it’s the cold going to our head, but we’re still basking in the glory that we not only “escaped the cold” in 19 minutes and 27 seconds but we were told only 15% of teams had been able to escape at that point!
While this experience was one of the most low tech activations we encountered throughout our stay, no other activation generated the same level of buzz within SXSW. Everyone had seen the long lines outside of this activation space and heard about the 3 hour wait time. While it may not have boasted the latest tech integrations, the experience was exclusive to the show, promoted teamwork and community while also triggering a primal, emotional response with attendees.
A&E Bates Motel
Another low-tech activation that caught our eye was the A&E Bates Motel experience. Each day of SXSW we walked passed the corner of San Jacinto and Cesar Chavez where we saw A&E’s Bates Motel activation and wondered what exactly was going on inside this loner motel? When we finally ventured in, we learned it was a pop-up motel replica of the Bates Motel on A&E to promote the television thriller. Attendees who visited the motel pop-up were entered to win a one night stay in their fully staged rooms (creepy). While this activation boasted minimal technology beyond an iPad and photo booth, the impact of this physical structure functioning as a stunt garnered ample chatter on and offline effectively.
Samsung Studio Virtual Reality Experience
The team at Samsung partnered with virtual reality experts at Oculus Rift to promote their new Galaxy S6/S6 Edge phones and 4K SUHD TV. Upon entering the Samsung Studio VR space, attendees were exposed to the product while waiting for their turn to embark on their VR journey. The 4K SUHD TVs sprinkled throughout the space projected video content around three different VR experiences that you could select from: Samsung’s Milk Video, the Insurgent movie’s Shatter Reality and the SNL 40th anniversary. As devoted SNL fans, we of course chose the SNL 40th anniversary. Let us be the first to tell you that the feeling of sitting in the virtual audience of this iconic “live from New York” studio is nothing less than amazing. It was at the Samsung Studio virtual reality experience that we found not only ingenious with their execution of their digital activation, but one with a clear purpose with a relevant connection to the brand.
Game of Thrones SXSWesteros
The Game of Thrones #SXSWesteros experience spread like wildfire throughout SXSW, as it was both simple and complex all at once. Once inside the space, it was refreshing to see that there were only two major components – sharing photo of yourself sitting on the iconic Iron Throne and participating in a digital experience. In a landscape full of brands that attempt to throw a bunch of smaller elements into a small footprint, this activation was refreshing, appreciated and the elements felt purposeful.
The digital experience was an immersive game, in which attendees utilized wireless motion-sensored swords to destroy objects on the screen in front of them. As you swing through the random assortment of graphics flashing across the screen, the resulting debris reconfigures to slowly reveal a Game of Thrones-inspired portrait of your face.
While we just made our argument for why photobooths aren’t always the way to go, we were so impressed with this alternative photo opportunity at HBO’s Silicon Valley experience that we just had to share our mad hops:
Needless to say, with everything we saw we are still talking about some of our favorite experiences at SXSW, which goes to show the power of live events. It’s in the strategic and innovative design, thoughtful details and human connection that make for lasting memories.
Everyday, there is positive change happening all around us. From simple gestures of kindness to people discovering new interests and skills to large scale community projects. But what sparks change? What compels people to change or help each other? How can we make a difference?
Recently, several Grow team members attended TEDxBerkeley where we got answers to some of our own questions on this topic. Speakers from all around the world traveled to Zellerbach Hall on UC Berkeley’s campus to share their inspiring stories on wisdom, connection and compassion. We left feeling inspired and ready to make an impact, but more importantly, we got a glimpse into how everyone can make a change.
Here are some of the takeaways that resonated with us most as we enjoyed an eye-opening day of talks and musical performances from leaders from around the globe:
Wisdom is not only being knowledgeable, but also being aware of when and how to leverage your skills to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves along the way. Several speakers shared stories of their personal journeys and how learnings along the way enabled them to identify opportunities and make an impact.
Carolyn Gable, Founder, President and CEO of New Age Transportation, spent over a decade as a waitress and struggled to break into a new career path. Despite years of rejection, she learned early that “showing up is 98% of life,” and continued to persevere. It finally worked, and she used an opportunity as a sales rep to catapult herself up the corporate ladder. Today, she’s the successful founder of a multi-million dollar logistics company.
Victoria Kisyombe, Founder of Vital Voices, became a pioneer by using micro-leasing to empower women in Tanzania to become economically self-sufficient. Her life mantra, to which she credits her success, is: when faced with a challenge, focus on the opportunities around you, not the problem. Her ability to stay on track lead to her starting a business with one beloved, family cow and growing it to serve almost all of Tanzania in multiple ways.
Although we live in a world that is more connected than ever, personal relationships have always been and remain the key to success. Many of the speakers we heard from stressed the importance of connection – both with yourself and others – building and maintaining friendships and seeking out those with the power to help you achieve your goals.
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, shared humorous anecdotes from his time as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The friendships and connections he built with his quirky personality, dorm room pranks and weekend adventures eventually led to the creation and success of Apple. His stories reminded us of the importance of connecting and staying connected with others to achieve big goals.
Compassion and empathy are often used interchangeably but mean two very different things. Empathy is understanding and being sympathetic to another’s situation, whereas compassion is not only having empathy but also the desire to make a change and improve a situation. Many of the speakers shared stories of compassion and how they used their skills, talents – and even their fears – to overcome life challenges. It was inspirational to see what they were able to achieve by taking a risk and trying something different.
Suzanne Ackerman-Berman grew up in South Africa during the apartheid state and saw first hand the impact of segregation on her community. During this era, her family employed workers of color in their supermarket stores, Pick n Pay, despite it being against the law. The supermarket chain is now one of the largest in Africa and Suzanne, General Manager of Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility, continues to find ways to support local businesses and instill pride in their employees.
Mike Robbins, a well-known author and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, shared the importance of bringing your whole self to work. He illustrated how this level of vulnerability and courage lead to innovation, risk taking and positive change.
TEDxBerkeley reminded us of the ripple effect the smallest change can make on the people and environment around you. We learned that everyone has the wisdom and connections needed to make a difference but it takes compassion to make an impact.
In addition to the campaigns we craft for our clients, we love to create moments that bring our team together. Our values are rooted in lives well lived and the moments that shape who we are, both as individuals and as a team. One of the most cherished ways that Grow comes together is through celebration (almost always including fabulous food and drink!). As experiential marketers, we take pride in curating unique festivities for our team that reflect our aesthetic and are engaging – because good habits always start at home.
As we kick off 2015, our resident culinary and libation gurus, Rachelle and Amanda (recovering chef and bartender respectively), are sharing their top tips for making festivities special so you can make this year your most well-celebrated yet!
Keep it simple.
Nothing is worse than when party ambition falls flat. Creating something that is elegant, yet simple and “sure-to-be-pulled-off” is key – i.e. your upcoming event is not the time to experiment with that new recipe you’ve been meaning to try, and too many elements or activities can leave guests feeling overwhelmed. Stick to what’s tried and true based on your personal experience to ensure success and minimize unnecessary planning stress…keeping you cool, calm and ready to celebrate.
But make it unique.
Whatever you land on, be sure to add unique twists to delight guests and truly make the event your own. Create an original theme that ties elements together and sets the tone. Skip the cheese and crackers and offer bites or sips that are more unexpected and memorable. During a recent birthday celebration, Amanda crafted a refreshing pomegranate and blueberry spritzer infused with cayenne syrup to give it some heat. We’re still talking about it.
Get “hands on.”
To ignite celebration, incorporate interactive elements that allow people to roll up their sleeves and participate. Hosting a baby shower? Die cut animal cards for guests to write best wishes, inspirational messages, and words of wisdom always delight the mama-to-be. Celebrating team member birthdays? An ice cream sundae bar is an automatic crowd pleaser. These types of activity-centered celebrations not only offer up conversation starters, but also help you learn new things about your friends and colleagues.
Tap what’s seasonal.
Borrow inspiration from the time of year and what’s trending or in season to enhance the overall experience – there’s a reason that you can’t escape watermelon in August or pumpkin spice in November. For our most recent office birthday celebration, Rachelle created a spread of Middle Eastern dips complete with homemade flatbread. Many of our favorite winter flavors were incorporated, such as eggplant, butternut squash and mandarin oranges – all while channeling visions of the Mediterranean.
Perfect your presentation.
Any event planner knows that the devil is always in the details. A poorly plated dish, cocktail, or event layout can torpedo all of your hard work before the event even gets off the ground. Whether it’s a simple cocktail garnish, vibrant decor elements that offer pops of color, or an expertly curated playlist, these nuances are what make all the difference.
So cheers to the new year and all the celebrations to come! And to help you wow guests even more at your next celebration, here’s one of our favorite recipes that is sure to delight – enjoy!
Middle Eastern Hummus with Spiced Lamb
- 1/2 lb ground grass fed lamb or beef
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp all-spice
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- Sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Heat a pan over medium heat, then add meat and seasonings. Break up your meat with a wooden spoon, and continue to brown until fat is released and meat begins to sizzle and fry in its own fat. Remove from heat.
- Spread hummus (recipe below) in a shallow plate, pile warm meat in the center of the hummus.
- Fry pine nuts in the meat drippings or in a little butter, until golden brown. Pour over the meat. Garnish with parsley.
- 2 cups chickpeas, still warm, or cold and peeled
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 2 1/2 fresh lemons, or about 8 tbsp lemon juice
- 1-2 cloves of garlic paste
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp yogurt (optional)
- Additional water (or cooking liquid from chickpeas) to thin
- Pour tahini and lemon juice into your food processor and pulse until creamy and pale in color.
- Add salt, and garlic paste to your lemon-tahini sauce.
- Pour chickpeas and sauce into a food processor and blend until well incorporated. Add yogurt and process again for another minute. Then add as much water as you want to achieve your desired thinness. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Let this all run in your food processor until silky smooth, for a couple of minutes.
- Refrigerate for a couple of hours for best flavor.
Whether braving long lines at crowded airports, managing hectic party calendars or rushing to pick up last minute gifts, the holiday season can bring its share of anxiety and stress alongside the twinkling lights and cheer. Amidst all the chaos, here at Grow this holiday season we’re celebrating the moments that make life special, from weddings planned and babies born to new business won and friendships made. We are so grateful for our good fortune and all of the things that have made our year one for the books, brought us closer together and helped us continue to grow as professionals and people. In the spirit of gratitude, here are a few of the things we’re especially thankful for this year:
Clients: our wonderful roster of clients who believe in us to bring their brands to life and give us the opportunity to do what we love each and every day – Laura
Reflection: taking a second to press pause and recognize all the successes and struggles throughout the year is a great way to improve and prepare yourself for the year ahead – Neel
Family: having my immediate family move from New York to the Bay Area is a truly special feeling to have three generations reunited and so close by again – Shari
Art: we live in a great city to experience art; whether visual, written, music or performance, artists challenge us to rethink the biggest questions in our culture and our lives and I’m grateful to these creators for risking, capturing and inspiring – Tami
Support: making the biggest move of my life (and my first move) from Denver to San Francisco, my support team of family and friends has been there to cheer me on every step of the way and I couldn’t have done it without them – Courtney
Health: whether quivering on my yoga mat or indulging in a fudge brownie, I often take for granted that I’m a healthy human being and lucky to be alive and well – Annie
Laughter: it can cure almost anything from a heavy heart to a tired mind, making the difficult times bearable – Kelcy
New Beginnings: from discoveries found walking city streets to the smell of salt from the ocean breeze, every new day is a bonus and new opportunity to begin anew – Rachelle
Mentors: deeply appreciating those special people who share their gifts and freely give in ways that help others grow – Lisa
Home Sweet Home: after seven years of full-time travel (and six of city-living), coming home every day to my calm, comforting house on the hill helps me stay grounded and appreciative to finally have found a place that truly feels like home – Jen
San Francisco: with endless opportunities to learn and explore new things, from year-round cultural events to ubiquitous cutting-edge technology, I’m fortunate to have the ability to experience everything this city has to offer – Stephanie
Friends: they come in many forms and all serve an amazing role – the friendships I have with my family, fiancé, besties and co-workers makes me happy everyday and I could not imagine living in this crazy, wonderful world without them – Shannon
Hometown: no matter how far I travel, having a solid home base full of amazing people in Leland, Michigan is key to having the confidence I need to find success elsewhere – Anna
Youngsters: I feel very luck to be able to spend time with my nieces and nephews every weekend as their smiles and laughter are so contagious and remind me not to take the world too seriously – Emily
New Life: making a baby takes the cake, not knowing what the future holds can make life interesting and I’m so blessed to have an amazing team to support me – Thao
As we embark on the year ahead, we’re giving thanks for the old and new, the successes and challenges, and all of the experiences and growth that shape who we are.
The Grow Team
It’s that time of year — #OrangeOctober — when San Francisco comes alive. Celebrating America’s pastime (you didn’t think we were talking about Halloween, did you?), our city is united with excitement and hope that our hometown heroes will once again be crowned World Series Champions…for the 3rd time in five years, but who’s counting?! With Giants fever all around us, we couldn’t help but draw some parallels between the strategy, preparation and hard work that go into bringing home the Commissioner’s Trophy and the strategy, preparation and hard work that go into a successful experiential campaign. Keeping in mind the following key elements will ensure you always knock it out of the park:
First Base: Develop An Informed, Creative Strategy
Baseball is a game of strategy. Before the first batter steps up to the plate, hours of film have been watched, the opposing pitcher’s technique has been dissected and a lineup has been carefully crafted. To swing and get on base? Or bunt to advance a teammate home? In experiential marketing, success is never an accident – any event, stunt or pop-up is only as strong as the strategy you’ve laid out on the front end. Start with a clear picture of what you want to achieve, and then build out your approach and roadmap to get there. Make the time to truly understand your target, the personal value-add to the consumer and what will motivate them to take the desired action. All elements of your creative concept, from a clever theme to eye-catching visuals, must feel cohesive, align with the brand identity and ladder up to the broader campaign goals.
Leveraging the insight that students are increasingly working in the cloud and taking their (heavy) laptops with them to class, Google launched a college tour to bring their lightweight and speedy Chromebook directly to the people. Playing off the classic library metaphor with a modern twist, they popped up on campuses across the country to lend out the devices for an extended multi-day test drive. Placed in highly visible spots on each campus, The sleek and eye-catching Chromebook Lending Library was a hub where students could get personalized demos, check out a Chromebook and sometimes even win one to keep. T-shirts, stickers with clever campaign messages and organic social sharing drew interest and spread the Chromebook message across campus. Students who got hands-on quickly became believers and fans.
Second Base: Create The Perfect Environment
As any San Franciscan knows, nothing beats sitting behind home plate on a warm fall evening with some Gilroy Garlic Fries and an unobstructed view of the Bay – especially if the home team is winning. When the setting is perfect, the experience takes on more depth and dimension, which is the difference between an experience that is memorable and one that is forgotten the next day. Whether the activation is in a small town like Missoula, Montana or amidst the bright lights of Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, a venue’s location, layout and alignment with the brand’s aesthetic can make or break the authenticity of the experience. From lighting to décor to culinary design, the environment provides critical brand cues that underscore campaign messages.
Kahlúa’s premiere screening of “The White Russian” starring Jeff Bridges was set against the perfect backdrop — the venue boasted the perfect mixture of raw indoor and outdoor spaces overlooking the iconic Hollywood Hills. The evening featured a curated mix of retro-cool décor and styling, including an assortment of antique furniture, decorative red rotary telephones, vintage lanterns, and a chic diner-style White Russian bar where guests could help craft their own classic libations. The brand’s retro-chic theme could be seen throughout all aspects of the space, which helped deliver a cohesive and brand-right experience.
Third Base: Incorporate Compelling Interactions
On the field, a split second or few inches can mean the difference between a run and an out. Off the field, the details are what separate an average program with those that shine. To knock your campaign out of the park, integrate unique interactions and other thoughtful details throughout the different touchpoints of your activation. Craft experiences that will surprise and delight consumers, encouraging them to engage with the brand in a meaningful way, while reinforcing the campaign messages and theme. Whether it’s a braid bar offering custom hairstyles or an interactive art wall allowing guests to make their mark on the event, remember to always bring an unexpected twist that provides utility or joy. Maximize the impact by amplifying through social engagement, both on-site and off, to spread the word.
The University of California’s Onward California campaign traveled across the state to give Californians a better understanding of what the UC system brings to their communities. Anchored by a brightly colored ice-cream truck, the immersive experience drew enthusiastic audiences by offering multiple ways to engage. After enjoying a complimentary Naia Gelato Bar with custom flavors named after each campus and a fun fact printed on the stick, guests were encouraged to snap and socially share photos, contribute to a community art wall, and send custom postcards that captured their love for UC.
Home Run: Bringing It All Together
Of course, one of the elements that makes our home team tough to beat is the unique chemistry formed by a diverse group of talented players, which elevates their game to the next level. Likewise, a winning experiential campaign needs an all-star team behind it, bringing together problem solvers, creative dreamers, logistics ninjas and strong communicators who execute flawlessly and can adapt to anything that may arise.
As Grow continues to cheer on our beloved Giants, we hope these tips will help ensure that your next campaign is a home run.
Photo courtesy of ABC News