Long Term Partnerships, Bright Red and Pilot Pen

We’ve established a very strong relationship with Pilot by listening.


What is the longevity of the relationship between your agency and the brand and how did this relationship begin?

We have been the AOR for Pilot (including advertising, public relations, social media) since 2012. We pitched the business in a national review and won in late 2011.

Tell us about the first campaign your agency worked on for the brand.

Our first effort for Pilot was an integrated campaign for Back-to-School as their primary selling season is July - September. Targeting moms and teens, our effort was designed to drive awareness for the various Pilot products, focusing on the #1 selling pen in the U.S., the G2 (gel), as well as the FriXion (erasable) and Precise (fine point). Our creative strategy focused then (and now) on elevating the importance of handwriting (in the face of digital), and creating gravitas around the handwritten word. Studies show that handwriting means more, and makes people feel more, than typing words, and we wanted to use that as our creative lever to define the individual personalities of the different pens. And of course, creatively, we wanted to use actual handwriting in the creative itself. Our first print campaign, which was featured in women’s magazines, did just that.

What has been the most innovative/successful campaign created by your agency for the brand?

Our most innovative campaign was for the FriXion erasable pen, and our challenge was to drive awareness among creative/designer types. The pen is quite revolutionary (most erasable pens in the past have been bad products), but the FriXion is state-of-the-art thermal technology that writes smoothly and erases cleanly. We wanted to make a big splash and drive awareness among thought leaders in the creative world. So we hijacked New York Fashion Week! We engaged the designer Nicholas K, who opens every New York Fashion Week, to design a dress made entirely of FriXion pens while also using the pen to design it. The dress was then completed and actually walked the runway during the very first show. We got incredible PR coverage in national publications, both fashion as well as general consumer outlets, TV and news shows. It was a huge win and created quite the buzz.

What do you identify as being the biggest change to the industry as a whole?

Like everyone else, we’re figuring out the best way to keep emotional relevance in a data-driven universe.

What way do you work with the brand to keep up with the industry changes?

We want to make sure that our ‘analog’ product (the pen) is as present in the digital world as a digital device. Which means we must deploy all the tactics (programmatic, search, display, e-commerce) and make them work even harder for us. Combining these tactics with offline traditional media (TV, print) has allowed us to create a good balance for the brand, and allow us to be flexible in our approach.

What factors have enabled you both to stay in a partnership for so long? And how do you plan on keeping this relationship going forward?

The key to any great client relationship is honesty and transparency. We’ve established a very strong relationship with Pilot by listening. Our clients aren’t shy (trust me). And we can’t be, either. They’ve allowed us the luxury of risk — trying new things (sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t), and ultimately this has led to some pretty groundbreaking things. We love Pilot!