Conscious Minds Partners with Airtable on First Campaign, Storytelling Studio
Jordan P. Kelley, Content Director, Brand Storytelling
In their first campaign, This is How, Airtable looks to capture examples of the real-world transformation that people make happen at work every day. Designed to inspire people to think about the best version of their work and why they do it, the campaign is rooted in unique stories that shine a light on the types of teams across industries and disciplines who use Airtable, including marketers, content teams, producers, designers, operators, and beyond. For this partnered campaign, Airtable tapped Conscious Minds, a creative agency experienced in telling human stories and developing documentary-style content for clients like Nike and Purina. Together, the team worked for more than a year to uncover interesting stories in Airtable’s customer base, giving them an up-close look at how people use the platform every day. Additionally, Airtable and Conscious Minds are partnering to build a custom storytelling studio, part of a long term strategy to help Airtable tell customer stories. Brand Storytelling caught up with Conscious Minds creative and production leadership Cameron DeArmond and Blake Heal to learn more about the campaign and storytelling studio:
Can you further unpack the idea that "storytelling is a human technology"?
Cameron: Storytelling is an ancient technology, a human-powered technology that has been used to impact, influence, and inspire a single listener, a civilization, or a generation. Storytelling is often misunderstood as only entertainment, but at its core, its the greatest tool to share and experience ideas, beliefs, and truth. It allows us to experience an idea, not just discuss it, hear it, or believe it -- but to experience it. The profound part of storytelling is that because it is human technology, we create the medium. Humans relied on this technology to preserve our past, to connect like-minded groups, and even inspire action.
How do you approach working with brands in the storytelling space?
CD: We believe that Storytelling is the format, the mechanism by which we will have the greatest impact on any audience. Therefore, it is prime for brands to leverage when it comes to reaching their existing or potential audiences. While Story is the format of choice, we still need the right subject matter for each brand story. This shouldn’t be solely informed by a brands seasonal messaging goals, but rather work in harmony with their audience’s desires. We partner with our brand clients to remove the guesswork of knowing what their Audience desires through a process called Audience Intelligence. This allows us to create content architectures and strategies that fuse what the Audience wants to experience with the seasonal messaging of our brands -- this puts the brand in the service of their audience, through the format of Storytelling.
What inspired the storytelling element behind Airtable's initial campaign? Why was this approach a good fit for the brand?
Blake: Airtable has a very unique product that is so simple yet customizable, it really allows companies to solve all sorts of huge problems. The tagline we wrote, “This Is How,” was rooted in shining a light on the innovation and ingenuity of how customers are building the future on Airtable. The hope was to build a creative platform that’s a vehicle for incredible stories and inspiration for how users are changing the world. Airtable is a brand that is committed to smart, hardworking solutions that put the power in their users’ hands. They wanted a human, customer-centric platform that shows the honesty and innovation is how they think and make difficult things simple. Our films and photography were shot in real settings, with rather clean/simple storylines, but we captured it all through motion control to show the speed and complexity of how Airtable can move through a company ecosystem.
What made you want to continue your partnership with Airtable?
BH: We love the people at Airtable and believe in the impact of the product above all. We also love working with brands at this early life cycle stage. Taking an 11 billion dollar company to the market for the first time is a big feat. But also an exciting challenge and opportunity to make a legacy impact for years to come. As a studio we are passionate about the future of content innovation and helping C-Suite leaders build sustainable branded content ecosystems, which is exactly what we got to do at Airtable.
What is the goal of the Airtable Custom Storytelling Studio?
BH: To sustain and supercharge the “This Is How” platform to another level of influence and inspiration for the work community. We’ll be finding daily and weekly ways to find and share stories that add tangible value to the Airtable community. Along with more premium content that should inspire a broader audience of what’s possible and how they might re-think what work looks like in 2022 and beyond. This studio is not a typical creative team, it’s a brand storytelling offense that is designed to think and make more like entertainers and educators than advertisers. Scale, consistency, and quality of story that operates more like a media company.
You've done something similar with other brands prior to Airtable - why? What drives you to empower brands to help tell their stories?
BH: Yes, we’re doing this with Nike on several levels (Nike Kids and Nike North America DTC) and Jack In the Box (Building Curly Fry Studios). We believe this is honestly the future and brands can no longer behave like brands to stay relevant and top of mind to a consumer. Brands are competing with Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon for mindshare and influence. Brands that understand what type of content their audience desires and how to deliver it in ways that integrate into their everyday lives will win. It’s a whole different offense than traditional advertising and we’re thrilled to be on the forefront of it.
What excites you where brand storytelling is now and where it's headed?
BH: The most exciting thing is that what worked in the past won’t work in the future. Brands need content to be better, made faster, at scale, and on budget. Ultimately, the old way of thinking/making just won’t work. This excites us because we get to reimagine how to make content different and build more custom solutions for brands.
About Cam DeArmond
Cam DeArmond is Partner and Executive Creative Director of Conscious Minds. As a key member of Conscious Minds’ leadership team, Cam left the traditional Ad industry early in his career with a mission to empower brands to thrive in the attention economy by creating content architectures that serve their audiences intentions. Cam has always believed that brands get to participate in a powerful relationship with their audiences, a relationship that requires more than advertising & marketing, rather a dialogue, a reciprocating relationship of brand and consumer engagement. Cam found world class brands who were bold enough to embark on that same mission — he has led CM’s creation of custom content studios for premiere brands including Nike, Jack in the Box, and Google. Cam has also led original branded entertainment content for some of the industry's biggest brands, including Nike, Facebook, Hurley, Google, Uber, Toyota, Red Bull, and more.
About Blake Heal
Blake Heal is Partner and Executive Producer at Conscious Minds. While still an intern at Warner Bros, Blake became a social media influencer when his YouTube video attracted ten million views. A passion to explore the power of this medium was born, soon evolving into a mission to challenge traditional practices within branded storytelling and content development. He began building Conscious Minds in 2008, quickly growing the studio’s clients to include the world’s biggest brands, counting among them Nike, Uber, Levi’s, Snapchat, and Red Bull.
At CM, Blake collaborates with clients in new ways, producing engaging emotionally-immersive stories that connect to each brand’s unique audience. Highlight projects include Netflix’s feature doc “Social Animals,” which premiered at SXSW; Uber Eats’ experiential episodic series for SXSW, “Let’s Eat”; and Nike’s original Youtube series “Come Thru.”