To drum up ticket sales for the Association of Registered Graphic Designers’ annual 2018 DesignThinkers Conference—the first conference weekend was held in May in Vancouver and the second in October in Toronto—Zulu Alpha Kilo decided to troll the very customers they were trying to attract. Operating on the theory that designers are notoriously nitpicky, narcissistic and dishonest (their words, not ours!), creatives at the Toronto shop played on those stereotypes to promote the DesignThinkers Conference, knowing attendees would be their harshest critics no matter what they did. Zulu Alpha Kilo distributed posters and merch, ahead of the meetings and during them, sporting designer clichés like “Oh look, a sea of people wearing black,” and “Why does Helvetica just feel so good?” The “Speak the Truth” campaign forced conference attendees to take a hard look at themselves, culminating in a video where the agency put industry design leaders to the ultimate test: a lie detector. (One of the only truthful responses the lie detector got out of all of them was that, yes, they believed they could have done a better job designing the 2018 conferences.) Turns out designers are also good sports. The campaign led to a 15 percent increase in attendance from the 2017 meetings, a 65 percent jump in website traffic and RGD saw a 25 percent gain in paid tickets.
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