What do you do when you're an all-natural-products company adrift in a sea of faux-natural companies? If you're Burt's Bees and your agency is Baldwin&, you make sure nobody will ever mistake you for anything less than authentic ever again.
Baldwin&'s campaign for Burt's Bees, "Find Your Burt," mixed up some smoothies, slapped some beards on its customers and walked the sustainable walk to become Ad Age 's Small Agency Campaign of the Year.
At the centerpiece of the campaign, which began in April 2010, was Burt Shavitz himself, who lived completely off the grid in a turkey coop in Maine when the company was founded. The mission: To live life like Burt, who, legend has it, was present at the very first Earth Day 40 years ago. "There was a general understanding that maybe there actually is someone named Burt, but we really wanted to drive that home," said David Baldwin, co-founder and executive creative director of Baldwin&. (Focusing on the man also helped assuage concerns by some consumers that the company is owned by Clorox Co.)
There were live events along the same sustainable theme. Smoothies with the same ingredients found in Burt's Bees products, made in a blender powered by a bicycle rider were created. Sampler packs, which included "beardanas" and lip balm were given away in New York and Los Angeles.
Find Your Burt, the campaign's digital element, launched on Earth Day last year, what Mr. Baldwin calls "a natural company's Christmas." Find Your Burt was a website where users could upload pictures, get tested on how sustainable their lives were and find their inner Burts, complete with flowing white beards, to share on social networks.
According to the agency, the campaign resulted in more than 63 million PR impressions, with users sporting beardanas making appearance on TV programs like "The Today Show" and average time spent on FindYourBurt.com going up to a whopping six minutes per user.
For Burt's Bees, finding an agency partner that shared similar values was key. Burt's wanted to work with someone that valued sustainability and sold to people who cared about the planet. Mr. Baldwin echoes that philosophy. "It's hard not to get passionate about what they do," he said. "They're a company that wants to make a positive effect."
And the similarities between the agency and the client don't end there. Both are small companies with big dreams based out of North Carolina, where Burt's is now headquartered. For Mariah Kulp of Burt's Bees, the size of Baldwin& wasn't a deterrent. "Big ideas can come from anywhere," she said.
And Baldwin&, which opened in Durham, N.C., but recently moved into an updated space in Raleigh, has always believed that it is capable of producing big ideas, despite its size. "Our goal has always been to be national," said Mr. Baldwin. "We work on national projects. It's our philosophy."
But the agency, which opened its doors in February 2009 in the throes of an advertising and economic recession, has had a strategy that allows it to work nationally. To offset the obvious disadvantages of being located in city not exactly known for its ad prowess, the shop looked at the global companies in the Triangle area and pitched them. One of its first clients was Nortel, the troubled telecommunications giant. Since then, it has signed on clients like BMW Golf, Habitat for Humanity and Burt's Bees, and projects $1.6 million in revenue this year, up 38% from 2010.
Today, the agency has nine staffers and, as the ampersand in its name indicates, plenty of other partners to help. In fact, Mekanism, Driver Digital and Tractenberg helped Baldwin& execute the Burt's Bees campaign.
It is AOR for BMW Golf, handling communications for properties including the BMW Golf Championship. There, too, the shop has continued with its philosophy of keeping it simple. In its latest campaign, anybody who took a test drive got a free pair of golf shoes. Small spend, but big, experience-oriented results.
And working with Burt's Bees and BMW Golf has been a turning point for the shop. "When you're in a smaller market like this, you're not sure, there's some naivete involved," said Mr. Baldwin. "But we started to talk to the right kind of clients and said "no" to a lot of projects. 'Wow,' we said. 'This actually just might work.'"