Saturday, April 10, 2010

Welcome to Toronto ReThink. "Smackdown Challenge"... or How My Students Pulled an Attention Getting Stunt.

The Boomtown Rats echoed the universal cry of, "I Don't Like Mondays" back in 1979, but nothing could be further from the truth this past Monday (Monday April 5th, 2010) when my students pulled off a pretty cool and very successful stunt in welcoming Rethink Communications to Toronto.

Success can be measured in many ways, but when 50+ Seneca College Creative Advertising students gathered outside 110 Spadina Avenue, new home of Rethink Toronto, they welcomed us with open arms. We in turn provided some pretty awesome "branded" cupcakes, a makeshift "ping-pong" table (theirs had yet to arrive), paddles and even delivered a unique bouquet of "ping-pong" balls (designed and created by Dayla Ledger).

I planted a seed to my students with a simple challenge: "Let's get Rethink's attention, let them know we are the advertising program in Toronto, and we get it." I wanted them to prove they are not just advertising students, but "students of advertising."

Research lead the team of students to make note of a simple Rethink office "culture" item, which is their boardroom table. On the Rethink website they make it clear, "we don't have a fancy oak boardroom table. We have a ping-pong table instead. Partly, this is because ping-pong tables are much less expensive than fancy oak tables". From that simple nugget an idea was born by Dmitry Zelikman. He suggested that whatever we do, it should be based around the ping-pong insight/concept. The idea grew legs from a team of second semester students: Cory Woods, Adam Bercovici and John Kazakis. They mobilized a team of students to shoot the video and created posters to be posted outside their offices on lampposts and doorways.

Social media played the biggest role in the overall planning and execution of the stunt. First we created a video for YouTube. It was posted it, then sent it around to all the students within the program, posted it on everyone's Facebook page and then used Twitter. The students sent "Tweets" to @rethinknow, @rethinkTO, @ChrisStaplesVan, @pema and @drelebre with a link to the video and a message that referred to calling them out for a ping-pong "SmackDown" on the streets or in their office. The messaging was planned and timed to be done in unison, and it took off. Within hours, Rethink tweeted back, "GAME ON!"

We arrived at Rethink shortly before 8:30am, warming-up with an "impromptu" sidewalk game of ping-pong. We had planned for a full ping-pong table for the day but weather was working against us so we turned to "Plan B", bringing a simple folding table, took over the sidewalk and began with everyone taking their turn. Rallying back and forth over a net being held by classmates, keeping the ball from heading into oncoming traffic and letting passersby get on their work days, but not without a smile or laugh. I couldn't believe the enthusiasm and excitement, especially for a Monday morning.

Shortly after 9:00am, Dré Lebre was strolling down Spadina Avenue ready for his day at the new digs with Starbucks in hand, much to his surprise there we were. Stunned, smiling and almost speechless, he greeted us with a big smile and shook his head. Success! We not only got their attention, we followed through.

It was wonderful that the students had the opportunity to not only meet Dré Labre but also Pema Hegan. They invited us in sharing and congratulating us on our experience, talked a bit about the path of Rethink TO and even played some ping pong with us.

I often ask my students to accept a couple of simple concepts to success and that lives within them. I introduced them to a simple expression, 10 words, 2 letters each: "IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO ME." If you want something to happen, you control its success and control any failures. I ask them to always ask questions,  and I remind them that “what’s the worst that can happen or what's the worst thing that they can say?” You just never know what can or will happen unless you give it a shot.

By spending the morning at Rethink the students could see that there are really positive people in this business. They proved to themselves that anything can be done regardless of obstacles.

Thank you Rethink for letting us invade your office and we all hope it was just as exciting for you as much as it was for us putting together.

BTW, now that your "boardroom" table has arrived... when are you ready for that "SmackDown"?

More photos are available on my Facebook page and at Flickr Album.

YouTube - SmackDown Challenge Video


Susan H said...

Finally! I have been waiting for this post :)

LOL. You were right. Our posts are quite similar.


We are very good at spreading the love *peace sign on one hand and other hand points at my cheek, pouting my lips fobtastically*

In many ways, gorgeous post. Loved the photos :)

*High Five*


Anonymous said...

Kudos Anthony, and students in Creative Advertising Program at Seneca College.

Anthony, as always your passion and inspiration has help lift and guide your students’ spirits through the years. Congratulation on your recent achievements on Rethink, and being on Sun TV, you’ve definitely accomplished your mission.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”

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