In a non-COVID year, AbelsonTaylor’s nearly 300 employees might have celebrated the agency’s 40th anniversary and major rebranding with a festive event.
But in early 2021, barely any staff was working in AT’s custom new offices in Chicago’s historic Old Post Office building, which, ironically, had opened just one month before the city went into COVID-19 lockdown.
So how to celebrate remotely? A sense of camaraderie and feeling of shared outlook were what AT’s leadership team wanted to inspire. But most staff hadn’t worked together elbow-to-elbow in more than a year. And a sizable number of new staff, who were hired during the pandemic, had never even met any of their colleagues in person.
Obviously, a Zoom meeting wasn’t the way to give 290 people the desired shared experience. Something more creative and personal was needed. Something memorable. Something multisensory.
The agency went old-school, creating a surprise “celebration box” chock full of things for honoring the agency’s past, toasting its present, and building excitement about its future.
Delivered directly to each employee’s home in June, the box showcased an original “AT Idea Book” exemplifying creative storytelling at its best. The book combined humorous profiles of the agency’s leadership and a recap of the company’s history and values, along with several creative treatments of the new branding (“Return on Imagination”).
For fun, the book also included comic pages and a multitude of original art images (many from past AT ad campaigns), and plenty of blank pages for sketching or jotting down spontaneous thoughts (with a pencil asking, “What’s the big idea?”). Even a cursory scan of the book provides a rich understanding of AbelsonTaylor’s character, its 40-year history, the new branding, and the vision propelling the agency into the future.
Other elements of the box reinforced these messages. They included a book on nonconformity, assorted stickers showing treatments of the new branding, Skullcandy earbuds, a thermal flask imprinted with the new AT logo, and, of course, an AT-etched glass and bottle of sparkling wine to drink to AbelsonTaylor’s continuing good health.
The AT celebration box was universally well-received. Staff loved getting a surprise gift in the mail and described the contents of the box as fun, informative and useful. Best of all, everyone was successfully introduced to the new AT branding in a pleasant, personal way and all staff were reminded—or learned for the first time—of AT’s pioneering role in healthcare advertising and its goals for the coming years.