Getting to the Visitor’s “Why”, with Gina Nacey

Episode 140

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Gina Nacey is president and executive creative director of Adventure Creative, an agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their focus is on active lifestyle brands, recreation, and destination marketing. Gina has led the strategy and creative direction of Explore Minnesota’s brand new “Find Your True North” campaign, and the Minnesota Zoo’s “Where Amazing Lives.” Adventure Creative helped Sun RV Resorts launch a signature tier of resorts – among much more great work. Throughout her 20 year career, Gina’s work has been recognized with hundreds of Addy awards, including many Best of Show and Judge’s Choice awards. She was also honored with the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal for achievement in advertising. Gina has taught advertising, copywriting, and public relations. She has traveled nationally to judge advertising competitions, worked on several nonprofit boards, and served in a variety of roles with the American Advertising Federation. On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Gina about the creative and strategic work it takes to connect emotionally with your target audience to build a great brand. We talk collaboration and doing work that transcends ego to put the client’s needs first. 

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why solving business problems is the heart of marketing
  • How to make an emotional connection with people’s need to visit your destination
  • Why marketing needs a seat at the table in broader business decisions
  • How to use real experiences from visitors to tell your story
  • How to create truly collaborative relationships

Solving A Business Problem

Destination marketing is much more than finding the right words and images to describe your organization. Ultimately it is about solving a business problem to bring visitors to you again and again. Gina describes her education and experience and how that connects directly with the wide range of skills needed to help solve destination business problems. She said, “We are never doing creative for creative sake. We’re always trying to solve a problem. That requires looking at the numbers and understanding the audience and understanding what the client is really trying to achieve.” Whether you’re in the agency business, or you’re a DMO or a tour operator, or working in a museum; whatever your role is, you’re there to solve that business problem, move the organization forward, and meet visitor needs.

For Real Co-opetition

Whatever aspect of travel and tourism you are in, you want to win the business. We all know that co-opetition is sometimes the best way for a rising tide to lift all boats. But what if you are competing for exactly the same client at the same time? That’s the situation Gina found herself in. When an RFP went out for a job, her company was a strong contender. It was between Adventure and another agency local to the client. That’s when Gina said, “Why don’t we share the work? They can do PR, and we can do the branding side and collaborate on everything.” The client was shocked that they would agree to that. The project turned out well, and the collaboration was real. They made decisions based on what was best for the client. Everyone checked their ego at the door, and that made everyone a winner. We make a point to weave co-opetition into the podcast for exactly these reasons.


Nicole Mahoney: 00:30 Hello listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. I am passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from the experiences of professionals in the industry and that is why I’m so excited to introduce today’s guest,Gina Nacy. Gina is president and executive creative director of adventure, creative and agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a specific focus and active lifestyle brands including recreation and destination marketing. She has led the strategy and creative direction of explore Minnesota’s brand new find your true north campaign. The Minnesota zoos were amazing lives. Successful multiyear campaign helps son Rv resorts launched their signature tier of resorts as well as led industry leading work for Hatteras yachts, old town canoe, Ocean Kayak, kinetic trainers, park tool, Larson boats, and more. Throughout her 20 year career, her work has been recognized with hundreds of addy awards, including many best of show and judges’ choice awards. She was also honored with the American Advertising Federation, Silver Medal for achievement and advertising. Gina has taught advertising, copywriting and public relations, traveled nationally to judge advertising competitions, worked on several nonprofit boards and served in a variety of roles with the American advertising federation, including as a local club president, regional governor, member of the National American Advertising Awards Committee and AAFC National Board of directors. Thank you so much for joining me, Gina.

Gina Nacey: 01:50 I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:52 Yeah, and I’m excited for this conversation and, and I love that you bring so many different perspectives from the industry to the table. So I know where we’re going to have lots to talk about on the topics of creativity and collaboration. But before we get started with that, can you share a little bit about your story in your own words? I, I know the bio only really shows, you know, one part of the story, a little bit about how you got to where you are today.

Gina Nacey: 02:16 Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of a weird little path, but that’s often how we get to.

Nicole Mahoney: 02:22 Yeah.

Gina Nacey: 02:23 Hi. Um, I grew up in a really small town in the middle of Minnesota, about 2,500 people. Didn’t have much exposure to advertising marketing at all. Um, all I knew is I was leaving high school. Well, I really loved writing and so well much of this small private school and entered into their creative writing program. I’m a little bit of an overachiever, so I decided to pack on a second major and I thought communications sounded interesting and then trying to get my money’s worth out of a small liberal arts school. I decided to get a minor in psychology as well. So it’s like, well, it’s kind of perfect writing psychology. I just had no idea what I was kind of collecting all of this for. Um, so graduated from college really still had no idea what on earth I was qualified to do and was looking in the newspaper because that’s how you used to look for jobs.

Gina Nacey: 03:15 I saw okay position of a copywriter and I had, oh, I could do that. I had to kind of research once it was I, I made up some samples. I went in and showed my quote unquote portfolio and they took a chance on someone and hired me. And so, um, just kind of stumbled into it really. And then, uh, that agency worked on a lot of recreation brands. And so that was kind of the start of my outdoor recreation experience. And so I was doing copywriting. Um, we were the agency that was going to be releasing slumberjack sleeping pads product. And I wanted to understand the PR side of it. So not just advertising we were doing. So I kind of asked them if I could lean into PR and they said yes. And then I went to another agency shortly after that. So I kind of had this copywriting and PR experience and this agency I went to next was doing all of the Pepsi Cola spot buys regionally.

Gina Nacey: 04:13 And I thought, well that’s fascinating. What’s that all about? So I wanted to learn about audience and demographics and things that I guess just work part of the creative side. But I was interested in, um, the, the, unfortunately the media bio passed away suddenly and I was then kind of thrust into this media buying career. So suddenly it was a copywriter slash media director, um, just again assembling some kind of strange experience and started doing more account planning and strategy. So that was kind of where the merging of strategy and creative happened in my career. So it was about, I don’t know, 10, 12 years into my career. Um, was really excited about the work our agents he was doing there. Again, it was like fishing and recreation. I was doing work for Berkeley, uh, fishing, Abu Garcia and some really great stuff. Then adventure popped up on the scene, this advertising agency that started doing a lot of marine and voting and paddle sports and they entrepreneurial energy to them and they were doing things that were just kind of different.

Gina Nacey: 05:14 So I saw what they were up to and how they were merging creative and strategy and I thought, okay, this is what I’ve been building for. I want to go join them. And it was something new that I could help grow. So that was 12 years ago and I found my new home and adventure and went through the ranks of being a creative strategist to then a couple of years ago was a pointed president and then most recently added the executive creative director. Um, two of my official title, but never let go of that creative side, but really just wanted to zone in on the strategy kind of all the meanwhile knowing that always made things stronger. So yeah, so here I am with now 20 plus years in the business. Um, it still feels fresh and new every day and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Yeah,

Nicole Mahoney: 05:58 I think that’s awesome. And I love that you’re using both sides of your brain, right? I mean they, they do talk about how creatives like your interest in that, you know, the, the media buying and kind of that strategy side and all those numbers, that’s not a natural thing. Sometimes for creatives.

Gina Nacey: 06:16 Bill sometimes had a natural thing for me, I have to push really hard. But I think that curiosity that I wanted to understand because I knew it would make the creative better agency wide. We continue to attract people that have that kind of two sides. I think that’s one of the things that makes adventure different is that our people are never doing creative for creative sake. We’re always trying to solve problem. Um, and that requires looking at the numbers and understanding the audience and understanding what the client’s really trying to achieve. Yeah. Fun challenging business.

Nicole Mahoney: 06:50 Yeah. And I love that you point out that it is about solving the business problems because at the end of the day, you know, I think that’s what we’re all in the business for. Whether you’re in the agency business or your DMO or you’re a tour operator or working in a museum, you know, whatever your role is, you’re there to solve that business problem and to move that organization forward. So I think that’s just great perspective. I’m glad you brought that up.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:15 So, um, let’s dive in to creativity. I’m really interested in, in getting some of your perspective on these questions and I know you’ve got several different, um, accounts at adventure that you could speak to. So feel free to take the answers in any traction that, that you would like to. Um, but the very first one is really this whole idea about, um, the hospitality industry and tourism industry is so competitive and there are so many things competing for people’s time. I’m not just in choices of, you know, perhaps places to go, things to see, things to visit, but also, you know, just, um, our time is so compressed and choices of staying home or going to my son’s soccer game or, or whatever. Right. So I’m wondering what, um, you have seen with the work that you do for your clients that have really helped your clients stand out from the crowd?

Gina Nacey: 08:07 Well, it’s interesting. It’s a little bit different for absolutely every one of them, but I think there’s some common threads. And I think one of the things that we’re always really focused on is getting to the why. Getting to that one true thing that our clients offer a consumer, a traveler, that, that no one else can, or that we can express it in a way that no one else can. And so I think that when we, when we really dial thing, I can sit and think about things. So let’s talk about the Minnesota Zoo for example. One of our clients that, but that came to us, you know, a few years ago trying to help this idea that, you know, they’re, they’re not just an entertainment destination. It is, they have a um, and educational component to it. Um, and so there are so many things we want to say.

Gina Nacey: 09:02 There’s so many pieces of the, the communication that we always want to tell everybody everything about our destination or product or whatever we have. But really ultimately we have to boil it down into, you know, one y one main thing and then make sure that marries up with like the, you know, the consumer is looking for. So with the Minnesota Zoo for example, what we’ve really found out, it wasn’t going to the zoo. It wasn’t even really seeing the animals or learning more about animals. It was this idea that it connects us to nature in a way that’s different than we are able to experience on a daily basis. And through the eyes of our children, we kind of reconnect with nature and we connect with things that we’ve lost a little bit. And so there’s like this digging deep until a little bit of the psychology.

Gina Nacey: 09:53 So there, there comes my nerdy psychology a bit, but it’s the why, the reason the zoo exist is to connect people with animals and nature in a deeper way. And so then we rolled that into the campaign. I was like, where amazing lives. And it’s the experiences of seeing your child, seeing these animals for the first time. That’s really the reason to go. And then that connection that we both, you know, you walk away with, um, and just wanting to see the world in a slightly different light. So how is rolling into the why? Um, and that’s what have been the same thing with, you know, a travel and tourism in general too, I think is, is what are people really seeking. And that helps, I think, focus the creative and I’m more meaningful way. Um, and so for, um, explorer Minnesota for example, you know, this, this idea that there are lots of destinations that are amazing and beautiful and I’m obviously really passionate about Minnesota.

Gina Nacey: 11:00 But, you know, we, we were noting that so many destinations, we’re showing you the things you could see and, um, not really, I guess exploring the way that people and the reasons that people travel now. So this idea that, you know, I guess when I, when I traveled as a kid with my parents, we’d go on a road trip and we’d see things. We’d literally go to the rocky mountains. We’d stopped at Avista, we’d get out of the car, we’d see it, we get back to the car and drive on to our hotel and dinner. You know, when I travel with my daughter now we’re going to experience things to be changed by them. So we want to go deeper. Every consumer wants a deeper experience with, uh, anything that they’re doing or buying. And I think that is, that is where creativity is required as to get to that level where we can tell a story in a way that’s really meaningful to our audience about what they will receive kind of emotionally, uh, whether it’s health fulfillment or actualization, all of those things that they, that they are going to see an experience in a, in a deeper level than just hopping on to check something out or take a picture in front.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:11 Yeah, I love that. And as you’re talking, it’s reminding me of a recent conversation I had on this show with um, Robert Rose. And one of the things we were talking about is kind of along the same lines, but is that the jobs to be done theory and it’s really that whole idea, right, of going deeper. What do you actually get? Um, you know, like you were talking about the zoo and you said, you know, you’re, you’re able to connect with nature, but connecting with nature isn’t necessarily what I’m desiring or I don’t realize that’s what I’m desiring. But connection to my children or seeing the world through the eyes of my children is kind of going that much deeper. And the same idea with what you just shared on Minnesota and, and what people will receive emotionally. It’s not just that I’m going to get to go and have these adventures in Minnesota. It’s the feeling that I’m going to get while I’m there, then I’m really seeking and that’s really getting to those motivators. I think that’s just really, really awesome.

Gina Nacey: 13:12 Yeah.

Nicole Mahoney: 13:13 Yeah. And Gina, I’m wondering if you can, um, and a little bit on some of these campaigns because I’m sure I love that they’re grounded in this strategy and that you’re really connecting to, you know, what is that motivation and, and um, you know, making sure that you’re marrying up what the consumer is looking forward to. What is that unique, you know, saying that you can offer that your, that the zoo can offer for example, and then how does that come to life through the campaign? Can you walk us through, um, you know, that, uh, were amazing lives campaign and kind of how you actually take that insight. And turn it into that campaign.

Gina Nacey: 13:53 Yeah, I mean, I think the find your true north, which I can talk about both really. There’s some shared elements, but then they’re so kind of distinctly different. So yeah. So we’re amazing. I mean that, that kind of campaign phrase came out of a couple of things. You know, from the strategy, like you mentioned this idea that these amazing, great answers live here. You’re amazing animals and the conservation live there. Um, and the way that it kind of manifested visually was this idea of people and animals and those experiences coming together. So in print, um, you know, we can’t actually show the people and animals together. So there became this kind of, this montage and just kind of this a little bit more emotional connection, um, and the imagery and in the copy sharing what amazing men. So that was the first piece of the puzzle, but where it really came to life through our TV work and the video work where then we, we really show that experience of seeing nature through a child dies by literally following a mother and a daughter, um, through the zoo.

Gina Nacey: 15:00 And talking about in the copy about those moments where you’re connecting with, um, each other and you’re understanding this amazing view of the small piece of the world that we have right now and how we are part of something so much bigger and exactly what you said, Nicole, that idea of when we see the world through a child’s eyes, we remind ourselves of, ah, you know, I guess our place in the world, how small we are and how, how big the contributions we make on a daily basis affect the entire world. And so that, that campaign has this really beautiful emotional, um, kind of tug to it in the copy and the way we shot it in the way we filmed it, um, in the music that was selected. And it was, uh, it was fascinating to see the results of the campaign. It was just something that hadn’t been done before.

Gina Nacey: 15:53 It was always, you know, the zoo is a fun place to go, but turning it into a little bit more of an emotional heartstrings place. Um, that’s really the, the reason people take their children to the zoo every day. Um, and, and we were hearing from people that it was a motivator to get them to take her kids to the zoo and become members. And ultimately as we talk, you know, we’re solving a business problem and they wanted to make sure that they had more members annually. And so ultimately it, it made people think of that they didn’t want to just go to the zoo once a year. They wanted to become members and have that experience on a more regular basis.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:32 That’s great. Thanks for connecting those dots. Cause yeah, you’re right. We started this with we’re solving business problems and that’s one way that you did that. I think that’s fantastic. Um, what about with the go Norris campaign?

Gina Nacey: 16:45 Yeah, so again, you know, you know, we were talking about kind of grounding some of it in psychology, this idea that people are, are going to find out more about themselves or they’re going, they’re traveling to reconnect with their family. So the previous campaign for Minnesota was this, it was kind of Hashtag only in Minnesota and it was just like everybody else is trying to do, tell the story, you know, tell the stories of what is unique to their state, what they offer that no one else does differentiators, all the things. But what we wanted to do, um, as it kind of the new agency on the account was to connect, match that deeper meaning of the reason that people travel and the idea that people are looking for self actualization. So there’s two pieces to find your true north. That’s right. Find your true north is obviously that kind of come here and find what’s important to you.

Gina Nacey: 17:33 Again, that moment where we pause when we’re traveling and we say, I am not going to work as much anymore after this. I’m going to spend more time with my kids. That moment on a trip where you see something amazing and you recommit to traveling, all the things that happen when we’re on vacation that allow us to recommit to what’s important to us. That’s part of what I knew your true north is about. And then the other piece of it was this idea of just north in Minnesota is north. So redefining a little bit of our states position. So, you know, Minnesota is always been part of the Midwest, but it’s not something that we really identify with here. And we also knew we needed to separate ourselves a little bit from it. Um, and we are just frankly, anywhere, anywhere Brisby real to who we are.

Gina Nacey: 18:23 Also, like anywhere I travel, um, especially when I’m in, you know, the house, no, I have, I’ll say I’m from Minnesota. They’re like, Ooh, way up north. Yes we are. That’s right by Canada, right? Like yesterday. Like, Hey, this thing that we’re known as and let’s, let’s build off of that great asset of this beautiful, you know, parts of the state that are really untouched. That is something that not everybody can offer. The fact that we have no, and all of these crazy things to do in the snow, pretty good part of the year, you know, let’s, let’s build off that. But let’s tell the true stories of what north means. So instead of it just being always cold. No, it’s amazing. Um, in the summertime and the amount of lake and trees and heat and humidity we have here that people don’t out. Let’s tell the true stories that we are not just boring Midwest.

Gina Nacey: 19:21 We have incredible, um, James Beard winning chefs. We have amazing, um, kind of second to none arts and culture, you know, the Guthrie it or the Walker Arts Center if we have all of this that, um, it was kind of, I dunno, under it just, it wasn’t rising to the top. We needed to tell the true story of the state. And so that find your true north had multiple layers. It was let’s reset north means, let’s tell the truth about it, but let’s invite people to find their true north here, whether it’s in some of our, um, outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the state, which are vast. Um, or if it’s some of our arts and culture variances that you find in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, that you have, that you have this as a place where you can find that moment of, all right. That reconnection to what’s important to you.

Gina Nacey: 20:11 And then again, so that’s again, a lot of the strategy and what it means, but then let’s do it in a really true, compelling way of telling that story. So our, our TV spots, we are using real families and we’re putting them on real adventures in different parts of the state. And it feels like you’re along with them for the journey and you can see what they’re experiencing. And there are these moments of, yeah, ah, let’s stop you that where you see these people finding their true north individually with their child, with their partner, mmm. In, in ways that make go, I want that. Uh, and then we wrapped in some kind of beautiful layers of, uh, you know, just nuance of the states of reset those expectations. I didn’t know you could go white water rafting in Minnesota and you can, and there’s sailing here, there’s beautiful prairie land. So again, expressing more of what’s true about the state in a really, I mean, everybody uses the word authentic, but it’s done in a really authentic way. And then we set it again to, um, music by Minnesota musicians, uh, again to, to draw some emotion to it because traveling isn’t just excitement. They’re beautiful, quiet moments and travel to. And so just to be able to show that variety was really important to us.

Nicole Mahoney: 21:32 Yeah, I think that’s great. I love, I love how that true north has so many legs to it and so many different ways that it can be, um, used, but also that again, you tie it right back to that emotion and you started, you know, with this is, you know, people are looking for self actualization and really tied it back to aligning it with the consumer and what they’re looking for. I think that’s, um, that’s really great illustration of that and that’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing all of that with us. Um, I’d like to kind of switch gears a little bit and um, have you kind of talk about some problem solving, cause I love to learn. I think we learned the best and where their most creative when we’re solving for some sort of a challenge. And I’m wondering if there is a challenge that you faced or helped your clients face and then maybe a creative solution, uh, that came from that.

Gina Nacey: 22:30 The one that comes to mind is actually related to floor Minnesota as well. And I would imagine that a lot of, um, a lot of organizations deal with the same thing. So because explore Minnesota is a state organization, they had to put, you know, the, the account up for RFP request for proposal went out, um, and it went out and kind of the winter. Um, then the decision was made in the spring. So this was just last year, spring of 2018 we were awarded the work, um, work that was, um, you know, we did some stuff back work. Part of that are he that was done in a complete vacuum. So we had no client involvement as is the case when you’re ready in an RFP. Um, so you go in and you, do you show what you think is going to be the best? Yeah. Uh, we were awarded the work in and June, but we couldn’t start anything until July.

Gina Nacey: 23:25 Um, because of the state contract and you need to start July 1st. MMM. And in Minnesota we have a very short summer season. We’re filming and our campaign required all new assets. So July 1st we started this wild sprint, now we meet, now we can finally sit down with the team at explore Minnesota and see what worked and what didn’t. And our, you know, the concepts we propose. So in a matter of weeks we had to go do concepting, finalization planning, um, all of the photo, uh, and video and TV shoots, um, as well as selecting crews and doing scouting so that we could film in August before the leaves started to turn. Um, this, I mean this is typically, you know, of four to six month process, but instead it was all compressed to a number of weeks. So in terms of a challenge, um, brand new account, brand new clients, we, you know, brand new team that was going to be working on this compressed timeline and, you know, we needed to come out of the gates really strong.

Gina Nacey: 24:33 You know, there’s a lot riding on a brand new client relationship. So I guess the creative challenge, the, you know, the, the way that we handled it creatively, I was just being really smart and nimble and um, and being collaborative. So I know that that’s something that you guys talk a lot about on your, on your podcast is this idea of collaboration. And so we had to collaborate in a way that was right really deep, both for Minnesota team but also then with our production partners. You know, it was, it was lots of quick meetings in a room. People problem solving together, coming up with ideas and egos had to be completely off the table. And we couldn’t be the agency that we were going to come in and we had all the answers and we were going to do this, right? We had ideas, but we needed everybody to make sure that those ideas were going to work effectively.

Gina Nacey: 25:28 And we’re going to be able to get all of this filming and all of this production done in a matter of, so, um, I think that that was one of them. And then, you know, as though all of the other kinds of things that happen, why is the other part, like we just that ability to be, I’m able to think on your feet. And so the day you’re supposed to film a summer spot and it’s 50 degrees and rainy, mmm. How do you bound? You pivot suddenly quickly find a different location. How do we change wardrobe? How do we film something else so that we’re still capturing assets that are going to work because we know the next day we have to move on to another location. Um, so yeah, again, having the right team, having a level of collaboration that let’s everybody bring ideas to the table, um, and solve it creatively was ultimately the task.

Nicole Mahoney: 26:22 Yeah. And I think that’s great that you recognize that in order to get this done, this is how we have to approach it. Um, to go in with no egos, which sometimes when you’re working with a creative team is kind of hard, right. Got To roll with it. Um, and in really just to mentally prepare yourself for that as you’re waiting for this July one start date. I’m sure there was a lot of, you know, discussion in preparation as you’re, um, strategizing how you are going to get off the ground. Um, so I think that’s great. And, and you’re right, those RFP processes, you know, that are, are required, um, do put the agencies sometimes at a, at a disadvantage, um, when it comes to the time, you know, because of the timeline. Um, so I think that’s just awesome that you’re able to, to work with that and a and get them going. And so I imagine you have some really great assets for this upcoming summer season. Now

Gina Nacey: 27:18 we launched the campaign in April and uh, I’m still kind of in awe of how everything turned out, especially when I know how quickly everything was produced and developed. The campaigns has turned out beautifully and is getting really, really great response and actually really good results.

Nicole Mahoney: 27:41 Oh, that’s fantastic. So Gina, I want to give you an opportunity to talk about anything exciting that you’re working on that you might want to share with our listeners. Kind of, you know, looking into the future. Um, is there anything that you’d like to share?

Gina Nacey: 27:56 Well, I’m certainly really excited about the work that we have put out on behalf of explorer Minnesota as part of that find your true north campaign. Um, but you know, kind of pivoting to another client, we have been working with another, a company called [inaudible] RV resorts and they’re out of Michigan and have, I got 150 RV resorts across the country and we helped them develop this series of signature RV resorts that are just honestly unlike anything you couldn’t imagine there in beautiful locations and just stunning. And we really helped them develop this tier from the ground up. And uh, we, we’ve helped them open their first signature resort last year in Paso Robles, California and it, it’s gone extremely well and we’re launching two new resorts that will be opening in the next couple of weeks and myrtle beach, South Carolina, and then in Granby, Colorado. And so I no to be part of something that, and literally within part of, from ground up, um, working with architects and interior designers and the client and local PR firms.

Gina Nacey: 29:09 And it’s just been such an incredible a thing to see come together and then to be able to see a guest reactions like this is, this is the, the point that we all wait for, right? Like we work so hard to build the brand. We work so hard to get bookings and then to start to see guests come in to something that’s brand new and get their reactions, um, that okay. Extremely excited about. We’ve been working so hard and so had down that now it’s time to kind of look up and to see what we’ve built and really be proud of.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:40 Yeah. So you said

Gina Nacey: 29:42 the first one, the first signature resort opened last year. Yes. We opened a, this resort in Paso Robles, California called Kaaboo Robos RV resort. Um, it was the very first one that they open. So it’s set in wine country. And again, you know, you sometimes think of an RV resort as ah, that big parking lot with a welcome center. That’s about it. Yeah. The idea behind the signature resorts was that they would be built kind of within nature and have nature is as part of the resort experience. And so the one in Pasa Robles is built on these rolling hills, beautiful mature oak trees. Um, it’s kind of the Golden Hills of that central coast, um, of California. And so, yeah, I mean we were, we were part of every, that’s what the process too. So they, you know, we, we helped them with not only the branding but with, um, like I mentioned interior design.

Gina Nacey: 30:42 We helped, we worked with the architects to make sure that the brand at every touch point really delivered on this oh, RV wine country experience. Um, yeah. So much to the point that we, you know, we were at the table with all of them at the same time and we were talking about the work that they’re, okay. Arborists and biologists were doing to kind of protect the natural environment and it, the light bulbs went off and was like, well, let’s, let’s make that part of the resort experience. So we, we developed like a beautiful walking trail with interpretive signage around it that then would point out the different plant species and what kind of nocturnal animals you might hear or see in and around the property. And so, again, just creating something truly unique in the industry, something really stand out and ultimately something that gave guests something that they’ve never experienced before. And so when it opened last year, um, I went out a couple of weeks after it opened and I was staying, I was kind of an anonymous guest and to hear people talk about it just incredible. And then obviously, you know, the reviews and additional bookings roll in and ultimately that’s, that’s what it’s all about.

Nicole Mahoney: 31:51 Absolutely. That’s really awesome and know really visionary on your client’s part to understand, you know, that they really need to have you at the table for those conversations and how that really kind of can develop their, uh, their business and their, um, make everything consistent. Cause I think so many times marketing and branding might be, you know, in a silo separate from those other pieces. And I think that’s, that’s just really great that they’re able to engage with you that way.

Gina Nacey: 32:23 Yeah. It wasn’t, it was a really interesting process and it was very different from them and how they had worked before. They have a really large internal team that does incredible work too. And Yeah. And so that resorts that the model really for how we were going to do all of these other properties and how, like you said, we had a seat at the table with everyone from their corporate leadership too. Um, you know, to the people that were physically doing the construction on the ground. And then we would make multiple visits out. And again, everybody making those decisions together. Then we’re all on the same page and we see the collective vision versus us saying, well, here’s your identity and this is what’s gonna go on the fine. We were talking about all the nuances of what the sign materials and what the, you know, what fabric should be used in the bistro and what the menu was going to look like and what toiletries there would be. So yeah, I mean, like you said, every touchpoint contributes to that brand. And so when, when a company’s sees that the consumer sees it and it ultimately creates an experience that people are kind of blown away by.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:25 Yeah, absolutely. I think that that’s a great segue into the next topic of our conversation, which is this whole idea of collaboration because that sounds like a really awesome collaboration between, um, you know, so many different organizations that were involved to bring that to life. Um, and so I want to at least touch on a couple questions on collaboration because I always like to make sure we cover that on this show. And, um, I’d like to start with, with this idea that what I love, which, especially in the travel and tourism world where we see what I like to call a lot of coopertition essentially where perceived competitors actually come together and work together, um, to create bigger wins, things that they couldn’t maybe do on their own. And then wondering if there’s been a time where a collaboration between either competitors or perceived competitors has worked for you or for one of your clients.

Gina Nacey: 34:21 Yeah. The best example of that is with that caused the rebels resort in Paso Robles, California. And this was also the result of an RFP process. And so the client had narrowed it to two agencies that pitched the work. We were a finalist and, and again, we’re in Minnesota and that resort going to be in California. Um, and then they had a local firm in San Luis Obispo, um, that they again, narrowed it down to the two of us. Okay. They ultimately came to us and said, okay, that was really, really hard. But your creative vision and a strategy is the direction that we see you guys taking it. We really want you to do the work. But boy, it was really close and we had this firm Vca in San Luis Obispo that we really liked too. And we said, well, how about we use them for PR?

Gina Nacey: 35:13 They could be our local experts, they can be our local on the ground team for knowing, um, what’s happening in the area. They have the relationships with the media. We don’t have that much. Be Honest, we could handle the PR but they’re going to do it better. And so, um, Sun resorts said you’d do that. Absolutely. Like they were kind of shocked by, I think that initially the PR firm was kind of like, no, that would be a little weird, but it would be okay. Like we were both competing for the same work and then ultimately we just carved it up a little bit differently. So it actually works really, really well. They handled the local PR, they handle the social media. Um, the handled the, the groundbreaking and the grand opening. And we built the brand and led the marketing efforts and the messaging and the visual identity and then shared it with them.

Gina Nacey: 36:06 We all did status meetings together collectively when we were out on site, we were, again, all of the table at the same time. Um, you know, again, no egos can be in the room. Everybody has to be there for the, you know, the best thing for the client. But ultimately it was a, it was a collaboration and it set a model for how the other resorts and how the other properties we’re going to be handled. So again, we do all of the branding and identity and messaging, and then we work with local PR firms that handle the localization of everything. And then there are local knowledge experts. So we run ideas. It’s like, is this, does this feel right? Does this feel true? Um, and ultimately the work is better and stronger for it.

Nicole Mahoney: 36:52 Yeah, I think that’s just really awesome. And I’m sure the client was like, really, you do that because, uh, you know, um, I think that that’s more of a rarity, right? And that then than a natural thing that a two agencies like that, that were competing for the same business would end up working together. But I can also see how that really was the best thing for the client and, and can see, you know, and I think it’s awesome for you and it says a lot about your company that you were able to say, yeah, we can do the PR but they could do it better and that’s going to be better for the client and ultimately making the decisions on what’s best for the client. I think that’s just really awesome. So, so I’m curious, um, as you are working together collectively, you mentioned that you had collective status meetings. Um, what type of advice do you have for others that might be thinking about doing a similar type of collaboration and what are some of the best practices or lessons learned that that would be good, um, for someone to be considering if they’re looking at doing a similar type of collaboration?

Gina Nacey: 37:55 Um, yeah, I think the biggest are making sure that true collaboration and that it is not a collaboration on paper. So meaning that it, it really has to have, MMM, no ego. Everybody has to have a seat at the table. We have to hear each other. We have to be able to be honest with each other and, and have conversation. So, you know, though, um, adventure is the lead on those. We’re not the dictator, you know, we’re, we’re taking the lead but we are also asking them for their thoughts. We’re asking for their participation as a partner. Otherwise it’s not a, and so status meetings and everybody at the table, um, whether it’s virtual, most of those are webexes and um, you know, virtual or when we are in person, it creates that mutual sense of in it together and it the best for the client. But yeah, it always comes down to communication. I think the, the more your collectively at the table, the more mutual trust you have. And when you have trust in a partner, there is no need for any contention or any, are you thinking about there being undermined ever? So yeah, I think it always just, it comes down to communication and

Nicole Mahoney: 39:13 absolutely. I think those are really great points. And, and it, and they love that you said, you know, even though your agency adventure was the, the lead, um, and you do need a leader, right? Somebody has to be ultimately responsible, but that you weren’t the dictator. And it really was a team effort in a collaborative effort. And then, um, this whole idea of trust and, and really, I think that’s a great point. If you do have mutual trust, um, there isn’t a need for contention. It takes some of that, you know, suspicion after the room. Why did they say that? What did they mean by that? Right. You have a true, um, trusting relationship. I think that’s just really awesome. So Gina, this has been a fantastic conversation. Is that as I knew it would be, um, and, uh, our, our time is coming to an end, but before we say goodbye, I just wanted to give you the opportunity to say any final thoughts. Is there anything that I didn’t ask you or anything that you haven’t been able to share yet that you wish I’d asked you before we say goodbye?

Gina Nacey: 40:15 No, no. I mean, I think that we’re all so fortunate to be in an industry where we’re using creativity and we have all of these incredibly passionate and smart people around us, and I think it is just trusting the perspectives of everybody at the table. I think creativity doesn’t just come from the creative team. I think strategy doesn’t just come from the strategy team, and I think if we all are in it together as we ought to be, uh, really just amazing things happen. I think that’s the only other thing is just like let people out of their silos a little bit because great ideas come from anywhere.

Nicole Mahoney: 40:55 Absolutely. I love that. Great ideas do come from anywhere and I really appreciate you spending some time with us today. We definitely learned a lot and we’ll look forward to seeing some of these campaigns and action and catching up with you again. Gina Nacey: 41:09 Thank you so very much. It was really enjoyable. Thanks, Nicole.

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