While summer 2012 is basically in the books, the memories linger for those interns who toiled away during the season at various agencies. Here’s an entry from Ali Gladstone, an Amherst College grad who spent her summer as an account management/digital strategy intern at Philly-based Red Tettemer + Partners, which had quite a summer of its own. Anyhow, Gladstone reflects on one campaign in particular that she was involved with while at said agency. The floor’s yours.
When I arrived at RT+P a few months ago, cool advertising was limited in my mind to billboards with cars stuck to them or Chevy commercials set to Jay-Z tunes. Then I was told I’d be involved in Under Armour’s “What’s Beautiful” campaign, a competition to redefine the female athlete and find the next faces of UA Women. Women would be encouraged to create a profile on a website called What’s Beautiful, declare an athletic goal, and track their progress over 10 weeks by posting images and videos of their workouts and specific challenges offered by UA. And I had one thought, akin to the people in those ads who can’t actually believe they’re drinking a Diet Pepsi—This is advertising?
Followed by—Who wants to share videos of themselves working out? Well, 9000 women, as it turns out. From college students who wanted to complete their first triathlon, to women who just had a baby and wanted to get back into fighting shape (literally, in the ring.) Each day I perused videos and images the women posted, curating the best content for the top stories feed, and noting which women were kicking butt and might be on track to win a swag bag of UA gear that week.
I‘d thought of social campaigns as people responding to brands via likes, comments, retweets, etc. But these women were interacting with each other, and doing things in real life inspired by the brand. Really cool things, like a Baltimore city elementary school teacher who inspired her girls, who barely had gym class, to run a mile together. Watching the video of the girls talking about how good they felt about themselves after running the mile brought a lump to my throat (or it would have if I were one of those people who admitted to crying at movies.)
Amidst the competition, these women created a community. They started their videos with, “Hey, What’s Beautiful Women!” They created a map of where they all lived so they could get together in real life. Then they got together in real life. When one of them was injured in an accident, they dedicated a page to her and finished her challenges for her as she recovered.
And so I’m thinking, OK, these women aren’t exactly cutthroat combatants, so what have we got here? Great UA-inspired content from women encouraging each other to push their limits. People writing emails to UA about how this program altered their lives and inspired them to athleticism. Women posting photos of the personal notes included in their swag bags, commenting on how awed they were that UA took the time to personally reach out.
I just know someday I’ll run into one of these women on the street and think (but hopefully not blurt out) “Do I know you??” Because after watching their videos and writing to them and picking out UA gear for them to wear, I feel like an intimate voyeur into their journeys. These women poured their hearts out to UA and the What’s Beautiful Community, because they resonated with the brand’s mission to redefine the female athlete, lived it, and felt personally touched. It’s been more than the “two-way street” we hear advertising is becoming—it’s an intersection —between the brand, these women, their online communities and their real-life ones. The UA What’s Beautiful program has reshaped my understanding of what an advertising campaign can be. And I’ll keep that in mind as I ride on into the wide agency world.