It’s been a few weeks now since one of the largest projects I’ve ever been involved with, came to an end. Never have I worked with a client so closely, to come up with concepts, ideas and execution of an icon of industrial design to a whole new sector of their market.
Parker asked if Ghost would like to pitch some initial ideas for engagement of students with their entry level pen the Jotter. Parker felt that this sector of their market needed some proactive engagement. But before we pitched, and as the Account Handler and creative lead, I decided our approach shouldn’t follow the brief totally, but give some extra thought on what Parker wanted and how that could be achieved.
The brief required that we communicate to the student population of the UK, while being aware that our solutions needed to work in the UK, China and Japan. I studied this conundrum and spoke to many people, ultimately discovering how we should communicate to students and what would get them more involved. We won the pitch and after months of further ideas, developments and basically hard work we were finally ready to take ‘Parker Jotter London’ across the UK for it’s first tour.
I remember how sunny it was when we arrived at Bristols student Welcome Fair for the first date of the Parker UK Tour. To unload my car, I drove past security and towards a beautiful big red bus. I’d always been convinced this vintage London bus would work wonders for the tour, but even I was taken by how beautiful it looked in the morning sun. Pete, the owner, was there and very excited about the day ahead.
We started to unpack and set out the Jotter displays and banners and then changed into our Parker brand clothing. The excitement was now mixed with an anxious feeling of hoping this would be a good experience and having some great feedback.
The gates opened and the students started to arrive at the event. First we had our brand ambassadors go out and meet them, chat about why Parker were here today with a red bus full of freebies and give them a fun scratch card; where they could win either a pen or up to 50% off via Parker’s website.
Students started to arrive excitedly to our bus asking if they could claim their pen prize. A small trickle at first, then a queue started to form and before we knew it the event was fully upon us. Student after student with wide eyes would ask for their free pen and being slightly surprised that these beautiful objects were just being given away for free. We would then ask if they’d like to enter a competition to win £500, today! With the excitement of the pen, they nearly always said yes, or ‘why not’. It was explained further that Parker is all about creative writing and what better way to use your new shinny pen than for a creative purpose. All they needed to do was write down their Great Ideas. They could be, ways to help out fellow students with tips on saving money or how better to study. The results were always interesting and sometimes very funny. I remember one guy wrote about edible sellotape. His idea was to invent edible sellotape that you could wrap around your burrito so that when he eat it it wouldn’t fall apart – brilliantly simple, but funny too.
At the end of an exhausting day we had given away countless pens and goody bags and help students use a pen they will hopefully cherish for years to come. We packed up and set off for our next adventure at a new university.
Our final university was at Leeds and I think it was my favourite. We set up, on another sunny day, in front of the refectory and on the main street of the campus. We had more pens and goody bags than ever before and we wanted to leave with nothing. From the very start we had excited students thrilled with their new pen and more than happy to enter the Great Ideas competition for £500.
Being next to the main area of congregation for students, the refectory, we took Parker Jotter to them and left the bus. Interacting with the students and talking about Parker pens convinced me that these digital aged young adults, were just as keen to own a nice pen as the analogue students in the past. They will have created memories and stories to tell to the next generation of how they got their first Parker pen – which for Parker and for me, was the whole point.