The best and only way to describe Forge54 is as a complete and total whirlwind. Tasked with creating an entirely new marketing plan and advertising campaign for a local nonprofit– the Ocean Institute (OI) in Dana Point– seemed like an easy feat with the Forgers of 2017. Surrounded by creative individuals inspired to give back to their community with their talent induced the creative and energetic environment needed to accomplish this campaign.
Forge 54 is a Friday at noon through Sunday at 6 p.m. event that took place at Innocean Worldwide in Huntington Beach last weekend, and it was a honor to be a part of the team this year. Local creatives from LA to San Diego came together for a weekend of skilled giving, where they donated their time and talent to rebrand and rejuvenate the Ocean Institute. During the weekend, you’re pretty secluded to your team and your team’s task(s) at hand, so you’re almost oblivious to what everyone else is working on. So when the time came to present the weekend’s worth of work to the Board of Directors at OI, it was overwhelming to see how impactful 54 hours of hard work had been.
I was on the copywriting team, which means my team and I were dedicated to creating all of the text and words found on everything for OI. Specifically, I worked on the public engagement and consumer-facing campaign entitled Experience Together,’ which was comprised of 3 copywriters and 2 graphic designers, Our premise for this idea was that everything you experience at OI is experienced together, whether it be with you and OI itself, you and your family, you and your friends, or you and your class. OI offers immersive experiences that serve as the foundation of lifelong memories you experience with others, so we wanted our campaign to touch on that significant factor.
The first day was all about brainstorming and defining brand guidelines. I had to arrive late because of my internship, so by the time I got there we had already broken down the public engagement campaign into three different areas to highlight: OI’s festivals and events, their history in the community, and their educational opportunities. At the end of our first day, we consulted with the creative director of the weekend, where he decided that we should focus on OI’s events and educational opportunities. The one thing I learned over the course of this weekend was how to not take constructive criticism personally, and for someone going into advertising, that lesson was important for me to learn.
The second day was our breakthrough day. It was in hour 20 of 54 that we coined the ‘Experience Together’ copy for our campaign, which was greenlighted by our CD! From there, the public engagement team honed in on our specific skillsets, with the graphic designers hard at work figuring our design layouts for the various marketing deliverables we had to accomplish, and us copywriters creating the specific copy for each of those deliverables as well. In the end, we had completed design and copy for each deliverable of our campaign, which included informational rack cards (double sided pamphlets), a mailer, light pole banners, posters, and fliers. By the time I left to go sleep in my own bed at 1 a.m. on Saturday, I knew my team was on the right track.
The final day of Forge was obviously a frantic and energetic day, with the looming deadline of 6 p.m. now speeding toward us. The copywriting team had a final, productive meeting (albeit was characterized by laughter and delirium) at 9:30 a.m. to discuss who needed to assist in what other departments, and what our deadlines for the day looked like. In the final push of hours 44-54 on Day Three, I was dipping my toes into several projects to assist with copy needs, which also included refining some of our previous copy in our public engagement campaign, as well as creating posts for social media for our campaign as well. I also assisted with creating the copy for the OI field trip landing page on their website, as well as editing the 60 posts the social media team had created throughout the weekend. Additionally, once my copywriting duties had been completed, I switched over to public relations and co-authored a press release and media list for OI with Chapman student Carolyn Crosby, both of which our team considered “nice-to-haves” instead of deliverables.
6 p.m. quickly approached, and all of our deadlines and deliverables had been met! We prepared Innocean’s lobby for our big presentation to the OI Board of Directors and a few of Forgers’ family members while the Forge team leaders made final edits to our presentation. The OI board of directors arrived with huge smiles on their faces, and the room quickly filled up! Forge members started our presentation at 7, and each team went up to present their work with their team leaders. From our public engagement campaign, to a campaign focused on teachers and field trips, to creating an app from nothing in 54 hours, to completely redoing their entire website, to designed a virtual 3-D tour of OI, the Forge54 team completely rebranded Ocean Institute as a community pillar to be explored, cherished, and preserved. The new CEO stood up at the end with tears in his eyes and praised our work, saying how humbled he was by the creative talent poured into his company over the weekend. At the end of his speech, he informed us that each Forger was gifted a membership to the Ocean Institute for a year! Seeing the smiles on the board of directors’ faces, and the tears in their eyes reminded me of why I wanted to get into advertising in the first place: each company has a story, and I want to help share that story with the world.
This was such a unique and amazing experience for me, because this was my first time creating advertising that gets to be shared in the world and affect people. I’m excited by and proud of the work I did, and am so grateful to have had this opportunity. The people I met at Forge also inspired me by sharing their own stories of how they got to be where they are, and reminded me that there’s no one direct path that will lead me into the advertising industry. I am so happy to have been a part of such a skilled-giving community of creative and amazing people, and can’t wait to Forge again next year! Until then, forge on!
Posters from our public engagement campaign: