What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
I don’t have metrics off the top of my head, but I know that there was a sales and brand awareness list for the two projects DO NOT DISTURB worked on. Those are the most important numbers for a for-profit corporation. One of the products was something we’d never had in a restaurant before, namely shrimp. A seafood offering is extremely complex to do and risky in its nature, just because many people are allergic to shellfish, and, in a kitchen where many things are prepared in the same place, there’s a lot of risk. There was some nervousness in our organization, but DO NOT DISTURB’s work, in combination with the operational things going on here, put a lot of those nerves at ease once it got to the restaurant.
They were wonderful about doing things that agencies don’t usually want to do, such as disclaimers and things like that for a product that could cause a massive allergic reaction in someone. They understood that, but there was no pushback from them. They saw it as a business problem and proposed to solve it in a fun, clever way. That product in particular was really wonderful, and the work they created brought new people into the restaurant and drove sales for us.
From an anecdotal standpoint, as the person overseeing the brand and creative strategy here, I can absolutely say that they helped us from a streamlining standpoint. We probably had too much going on at the time, and DO NOT DISTURB was wonderful in helping us recognize that. They were also wonderful and helpful in pushing us into some places I don’t think we were at the time looking to go to, but we’ve now gone. This was not only from a process standpoint, but from a brand strategy standpoint as well—what was resonating with customers.
They have a rich history with food service and restaurants, and they brought a ton of that to the table. Their head strategy person worked for years with another fast food chain, so her insights were super helpful for me, as we were sharpening the strategy and thinking about where the brand would go in 5–10 years. I’m still working with DO NOT DISTURB, and I appreciate the place we’ve gotten to as a team.
How did DO NOT DISTURB perform from a project management standpoint?
They were wonderful. We were in an area where our processes weren’t as tight as they could’ve been, so we were the slowest wheel in the machine at a certain point. DO NOT DISTURB was good about deadlines and deliverables, and making sure that things got out on time. Also, they were great communicators when an edit wasn’t up to snuff. They would call to ask if it was a huge issue if they took six more hours to get it to a point where they could show us. They were wonderful from a communication standpoint, and, as the client and as a former agency person, I appreciated that. I wanted to hit the hard deadlines, but there were some soft deadlines in the middle, and we were flexible on those.
Their senior project manager is also their senior account person, and she did a lot of the day-to-day scheduling and communication. Their senior creative was also really involved in the business and in staying on top of feedback and our asks. They also added value by helping us out with the process and with some strategic elements, and they shared ideas about opportunistic moments we could go after.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Like many agencies, they draw people from across the globe and are multinational. Their two principals in particular have experience in Canada and the US with some pretty large agencies. They just bring a worldliness that many other domestic agencies don’t. They’re also really scrappy. Everyone’s looking for a retainer, but they’re happy to take on projects on a project basis.
It’s also interesting how they’re able to expand and contract the team. They’re always in our agency roster, and it’s likely we’ll work with them again in the near future. If we were to hire them now, the team would look different than eight months ago. I think it’s an interesting model. Every project is different theoretically, so the team should reflect the project. If the project is photography-heavy, we’ll probably want to have a couple of art directors on it.
It took some work on the frontend to look at the scope of work and align it to what the project actually required, but once the rubber hit the road on that, it really paid off. We weren’t strapped for resources, and, the resources we needed more from, we had.
Are there any areas they could improve?
I think we were their first client, and they were going through some of the same growing pains we were. That was really nice because we did it together. I think they’ve gotten a lot tighter, and they have more staff on the team now. They’ve probably solved the problem, and they were definitely more process-oriented than we were. In terms of their model of pulling people from all over the world, their roster is much larger now. Freelancers will work for other brands, so that’s useful.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Clients should align on their team and scope of work early, and be clear on deliverables. DO NOT DISTURB estimates one-lump sums, and they don’t bill for hours, or they didn’t at the time. I only knew 90% of the scope at the time, so I needed a 10% flex on assets. We tend to adapt to what’s resonating in the marketplace, which can vary between now and six months from now. It was good to have that discussion upfront and tell them that the deliverables would probably change.