The nature of the beast
“We’re a small agency but we’ve got big mouths. It’s not because we’re brash and garish; we’re unafraid”, states Cliff. The self-promotional gear we’ve sent out over the years reflects our personality and zeal to challenge expectations.
Loo roll, monopoly boards and cocktail shakers are just a few of the surprises that have landed on clients’ doorsteps. Hmmm… “But how do these seemingly unrelated objects reflect the branding values that lie at the core of all studio output?” I hear you wonder. You’ll just have to read on.
Thinking up new ways to engage our clients or new business prospects has always got us excitable during boardroom meetings. One of the most popular mailouts has to be our “credible in-guide” to Shoreditch.
Rather than bore clients with a generic Christmas card that would end up in the rubbish bin within a few weeks, we wanted to treat them to something more memorable. So, going that extra mile, we handcrafted a Monopoly board bursting with our favourite Shoreditch hotspots. North East London is known to be at the forefront of creative thinking, after all.
We shook things up one year by sending clients cocktail shakers, telling them to “mix things up.” When the recession began and daily doom and gloom encroached, we wanted to lift people’s spirits. As with the swinging 20s, we decided the best remedy would be a cocktail shaker and recipe book. Producing this called for a Friday afternoon spent making and photographing the beverages at a friend’s cocktail bar.
Incidentally, the quality of the photographs deteriorates slightly towards the end of the booklet. The campaign plays on our “combination of creativity, experience and passion”, as well as our “sophisticated, often cheeky, but always tasty approach to branding, design, communications and digital media.”
The first cocktail? Of course it would have to be “The Firedog”. This requires 3 parts passion, 2 parts solid logic, a liberal splashing of magic and a dash of traditional elbow grease. It must be topped up with years of experience and delivered without straining.
Also a success was our “Art of Equity” newspaper mailout. Having long-time pondered the relationship between creativity and worth, we decided to address this through an engaging medium. The newspaper highlights our appreciation of well-made, cleverly thought-out designs. Leading article “Steve Jobs: tyrant or visionary?” gives a balanced account of the Apple co-founder and his approach towards combining business and art. Other features include Cliff partaking in a Q&A regarding the debate over what makes a good brand, and cheeky questions at the bottom of each page like “do you believe in the art of equity?” alongside the Firedog contact number.
The digital campaign we produced a short while ago is also worth a mention. At a glance, the page appears to be a mish-mash of jumbled text and numbers. Hold a piece of red acetate over it, though, and the main message reads: “There are only 10 types of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who don’t.”
The campaign aims to communicate the importance of working with a business partner who understands what you’re trying to say. It also encapsulates one of our core business values: striving to transform complex ideas into simple, engaging messages.
Another cheeky yet effective campaign was the bottle of hot sauce we once sent out to a number of clients, informing them that we were “hot stuff.” We followed this up with some loo roll a few days later.
Why? The hot sauce represents our “strong creative source”; the loo roll is our service for comfort and support. The symbiotic relationship between our creative and accounts teams balances creativity with an efficient service.
The Obamaclaus Christmas campaign was also a lot of fun. Following Shepard Fairey’s hugely successful and iconic 2008 Obama “Hope” poster, we decided to leave our own mark. Re-jigging the poster, and donning Obama with a seasonal hat, we sent out cards to clients. As Shepard Fairey is well known in Shoreditch for his street art, we thought the slightly un-pc but loveable nature of the image conveyed the Firedog ethos well.
Not all of our self-promotional stuff has been physical, though. Alex Polizzi’s factual entertainment programme, “The Fixer”, helps ailing family-run businesses get back on track. We were flattered when Alex asked us to give our branding advice to these people. After a two year stint on the show and seeing the changes made to these businesses, it’s been thoroughly rewarding to hear how things have panned out for them.
The Chip Shop Awards have also been a great way to put ourselves out there whilst having a bit of fun in the meantime. Devoid of boundaries and rules, these awards focus on fostering and recognising creativity. Brilliant but horrifically bad taste is actively encouraged – nothing should be held back. Our Canesten Duo entry awarded us the lavish prize of (edible) chips and a bottle of vinegar.
Marking the launch of our new brand identity a while back was an event at the legendary music production group, Metropolis. Based in the iconic Powerhouse and responsible for the recordings of artists such as Amy Winehouse, The Stone Roses and Lady Gaga, this was an incredible insight into the recording process. We even got to lay down our own Firedog track. Thankfully, this was polished by a resident engineer before we happily walked away with 50 limited edition one-off vinyls.
Lastly, we’ve always had a bit of a preoccupation with dogs. A few Christmas parties ago, Cliff brought some plasticine along to the venue and got everyone to make their own Firedog. These now sit pride of place in the boardroom, wagging their tails. Also to be found here are dog bum coat hooks – practical, yet creative.
Sending fake dog poo to journalists was pretty risqué, but effective nonetheless. We left a note in each box, saying: “Firedog knows how to leave a mark. If fact, we have a real instinct for it. If you’re ever in need of effective communication, don’t hesitate to call us.”
What dog-related creation will we think of next? You’ll have to watch this space.
As you can see, we’re constantly driving to send quirky creations through the post that will grab people’s attention and communicate a sense of who we are. Maybe one day you’ll be lucky enough to have something sent your way…