creative haberdashery

How 1 request for 12 brochures changed an industry


Meet Vinnie, your favorite neighborhood cabbie. You’d never guess by looking at him today, but Vinnie started out trapped in a boring brochure.

I’ve always been the kind of creative who questions motive. So when a client asked the ad agency I was contracted with for 12 brochures, my first question was, “Why?”

Why brochures vs. something else?

Who’s the audience?

What kind of results are you looking for?

Turned out the competition had brochures, so the client wanted them, too.

Problem: I take a lot of pride in my job as a pinch hitter for creative concepting. I figure my role is to add more to the table, so my client looks good, so their client looks good, so everybody makes an impact and makes money. Plus, it’s more fun. Plus plus, how can the client ask for something that hasn’t been dreamed up yet?

Happily, the executives at GSW (now InVentiv Health), were willing to invest a few hours in free-range thinking and then willing to pitch the idea to the client.

The result was an interactive CD, revolutionary at the time. It literally redefined the expectations for excellence in healthcare marketing. In it, Vinnie, your friendly neighborhood cabbie, navigated through a city map to take visitors to audience-appropriate locations, where they could access games and educational resources. There were games for the kids. Information for the parents. Printable pdfs for the doctor’s office.

Map Interactive City

Map of the interactive city that could have been a typical tri-fold brochure. Give your clients options they never would have dreamed up without you.

It was a huge hit and still ranks among the work I’m most proud of. (I have to pause here to give credit to my co-collaborators, Dave Ragan and Sharon Brink. If you worked on this too, please message me so you can share the fame or blame.)

This is an example of work that is good for everyone. It was good for my client, good for their client, and good for the different audiences, who needed this jolt of infortainment.

It also illustrates why ad agencies ought to take more risks. Sure, the client ordered three brochures. But our job is not to ask, “Do you want fries with that brochure?” We are the subject-matter experts in marketing. Of course, that might mean brochures. But then again, it might not.



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