Not every agency leader would be comfortable starring nearly nude in a seedy late-night style infomercial designed to sell the shop’s services. But Dic Dickerson, managing director of Toronto-based The Garden, sure seems to be.
Witness for yourself as Dickerson finds his true, sultry calling in a 90-second, willfully grainy ad, evoking an ’80s-era local TV spot for an escort service. The video isn’t flesh-peddling, though (at least not in the traditional sense). Rather, it promotes a proprietary high-tech garden gnome that the company invented to help drum up new business. Prospective clients can request one, push a single button to ping Dickerson by email whenever they need him.
A few salient details: The upgraded lawn ornament is called, naturally, The Garden Gnome, after the agency, and is presumably the campaign’s centerpiece. It has its own website, where would-be suitors can fill out a form testing their qualifications. The doll apparently functions by magic. Dickerson and company emphasize that the one-touch correspondence does not rely on WiFi or Bluetooth to function. (How it actually does work is not immediately clear, but it definitely has something to do with the internet, and, gasp, a microchip.)
“We wanted to do something that would not only capture attention, but demonstrate our ability to play in the world of digital and tech,” says Shane Ogilvie, a co-founder at The Garden. “We needed it to be completely self-sufficient and just work when it comes out of the package.” (Hence, no setup or special connections required on the part of the client).
Overall, that makes for a fun bit of wordplay, leveraged into what might be an eye-catching gimmick in its own right, even if the core of the idea itself isn’t entirely new. (The Garden itself credits the Caped Crusader’s dedicated line to Commissioner Gordon. And back in 2011, Brooklyn-based agency Breakfast created B-Line, a direct-to-founders bat phone for prospective clients, as its own take on the classic red handset).
But the truth is, the gnome itself doesn’t matter much in this case. Dickerson steals the show by seizing on his bonafide porn-star name (yes, it’s his real name) and delivering a gag performance worthy of a barely-more-PG, not-much-worse-acted Dirk Diggler.
So, if watching a pasty account guy lounge on a bearskin rug, or bust up outdated communications devices with a hatchet, or straddle a 12-inch plastic figurine is your idea of a good time, then pour yourself a glass of box wine, sit back and enjoy the show. Luckily, The Garden also prides itself on its project-based model for clients, which may be why it’s also not worried about potentially turning off a few, too.