Sunday, November 7, 2010
By Trinity Rosen-Scharff, staff writer, Minneapolis Small Business Journal.
“We knew we had to do something. The flowers are our way of saying, “Thanks for not hiring us,” says Jarl Olsen, chief creative officer and partner of Smugglers’ Inn. “I mean, if we would have been freelancing for these places, any one of them might have a couple of clever campaigns in CA instead of us.”
The CA Mr. Olsen was referring to was Communication Arts. For thirty-five years, this publication has hosted a juried competition to determine the most creative advertising done anywhere in the world in the past year. Selections are published in the CA Advertising Annual and enter the archive of great advertising stretching back several decades. The Minnesota ad agencies, many of which dominated CA in decades past, will be conspicuously under-represented this time—with the exception of tiny Smugglers’ Inn.
“There’s just the two of us here, see,” informs Carol Henderson, co-chief creative officer and partner. “All of these are going out to shops with a hundred or more employees.”
Henderson gestured to two rows of flower boxes lined up along one wall of the cramped Smugglers Inn headquarters in Saint Paul. Taped to each box was a note card adorned with a sticker of either a teddy bear or a glittering cartoon horse with long eyelashes. As the mother of a six-year-old girl, I recognized “Pretty Pony”.
“One for boys, one for girls?” I ventured.
“Kind of,” said Henderson. “The Pretty Ponies go to gatekeepers, mostly women, who will be more likely to hire us after our good showing in a major awards show. The teddy bears…”
“Go to the creative directors,” finished Olsen. “They'll be bitter and resentful, since we’ve outperformed the creative staffs that they’ve hired.”
“What Jarl means,” Henderson was quick to clarify, “is that we want to show our solidarity with all members of our Twin Cities advertising community. Smugglers’ Inn is about community. We are a people agency.”
“Yes! We are into people,” agreed Olsen, reacting to a swift jab to his ribs. “We don’t need our brothers and sisters to feel bad just because we beat them in one awards show. That’s why we plan on entering more awards shows—OUCH!”
Interview concluded, Smugglers’ Inn insisted I not leave without taking a flower arrangement. “Take a Pretty Pony,” Ms. Henderson said. “We have too many of them—and the others have bugs.”
Creative people! We’re all such scamps.