My Mom had No Idea what I do for a Living

Have you ever tried to explain to your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa or a second cousin what you do for a living? You would think that telling someone that you work in advertising would be simple and that people would get it. As I’m sure anyone reading this article would know, it’s not that simple. There are usually a lot of follow up questions that make it even more confusing; Are you creative? Do you make commercials? Do you work in Media, PR, Social Media, Digital? Do you work with Google? Do you know Mark Zuckerberg? This is how the conversation usually goes and where the confusion starts.

I remember when I first started in the industry working at Cossette, I was on the Bell account, this wasn’t just any old time on the big blue telecom, this was the four years of Frank and Gordon Beaver (for those that remember). I remember telling my grandma that I was working ‘with’ Frank and Gordon which she assumed meant I was responsible for every ad involving the beavers. I tried to explain my job as a workback schedule creator, estimate issuer and general timeline manager but she didn’t get it. As far as she was concerned, I wrote every TV, radio or billboard ever created (she saved every newspaper ad in a little envelope for me).

If I couldn’t explain it to my grandma, how was I going to explain it when it mattered in a pitch scenario?

Like most agencies, we are invited to pitch to other marketers and tell them how we are different and why we are the right partner to help move their brand forward. If you are not familiar with the process or have never seen a presentation from an agency, it usually includes a logo soup slide that shows all the clients they work with, a capabilities slide that outlines the agency offering, a slide that lists the number of offices, some case studies, etc. With all these agencies presenting a similar offering, it tends to come down to who has the most experience in a specific industry. We’ve won and lost pitches based on having too much experience, not enough experience, not the right experience and everything in between.

We decided we wanted to change the conversation.

It was time for an intervention on our own brand. If I couldn’t explain our agency to my mom in a simple way, how were we expecting the clients we were pitching to understand the advantage of working with Elemental. We sat down as a team to get to the root of what we do, our secret-sauce, our offering and how this value was universal across all industries. We talked about what we actually do, creating brands and brand standards, voice, content pillars and the foundational elements of brands, developing brand strategy, road maps and channel strategy for our clients. We also talked about the execution side of what we do, the work that actually ends up in market, our experience delivering TV commercials, radio, OOH, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube, Connected TV, Amazon ads and the list keeps growing. This wasn’t it. This is what every other agency does. This is what every other agency partner will promise they can do. This was too surface level, and we knew that our own brand had to have more meaning than a “thing” that we do for our clients.

We needed to find the connective tissue for every single client we work on – a universal truth no matter the industry – and a way to explain our expertise in the world of marketing and advertising.

What was the thing we care about more than anything? What does every brand we work on have? Customers! Or, to put it better, HUMAN BEINGS.

That was it! It wasn’t the thing we produce or execute on. It wasn’t another industry buzz word. It was the human beings we want to connect with. We felt great about this insight, so we got to work.

We developed our entire rebrand for the agency around this simple truth – We make Human Connections between brands and their customers. We do this by delivering creative strategy that connects with people on an emotional level to drive new sales and long-term customer loyalty. Everything we do with our clients puts the human being at the forefront of the strategy. What makes them laugh or cry? What makes them really love the brands they love? What don’t they like? What do we have that no one else has? This is what matters when we develop creative, this is what sets us apart as an agency partner. Its not about the things we create, its about the connections that we make with customers.

So when my mom or aunt or anyone asks me what I do for a living now, the answer is simply that we make connections with human beings… and it’s a pretty good way to spend my days.