A pandemic is raging and one of your signature clients is a tourism agency. What do you do?
If you’re Cornett, you play chess. Realizing that most people were home watching TV, the Kentucky agency decided to drum up interest for its client, the Lexington Kentucky Convention and Visitors Center, by borrowing some interest from Netflix’s monster hit “The Queen’s Gambit.” Working with a $25,000 budget, the shop transformed a hotel room into The Harmon Room, a retro-style accommodation named for the series’ protagonist. This simple idea resulted in the room being booked for more than 50 stays and a 2,570% year-over-year increase in social traffic to the organization’s VisitLEX website.
The shop also cleverly leaped on another cultural phenomenon—the quick service restaurant chicken sandwich wars. For client A&W, Cornett urged the poultry purveyors to call a truce on Valentine’s Day (“Put down your buns”) as a way of promoting A&W’s Hand Breaded Chicken Tenders. As part of the effort, the shop concocted Hand-Breaded Chicken Tender Body Pillows and lip balm made with “real A&W fryer oil” that could be won in social contests. The push drew 17,000 entries in a week overall with a 315% jump in social engagements on Facebook.
Cornett also drew on the area’s bourbon credentials by creating Whiskey Wednesdays on behalf of Buffalo Trace, a spirited, live-streamed weekly series for those in lockdown, which drew more than 4.8 million bourbon imbibers in total.
That’s not to say the pandemic didn’t dent revenue, which dropped 16%. But Cornett is poised to bounce back. One of the few women-owned agencies in the country—President Christy Hiler took over full ownership last year—Cornett is dedicated to diversity. Hiler is one of the founders and board members of BLAC, a coalition to raise representation for people of color within the small agency community.