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What do go-karts, used mannequins, indestructible soccer balls, flame-retardant garments, & a painted toilet stall have in common?

10th September 10

Posted by Ben Malbon

Posted in guest, storytelling

Author: Jeff Johnson, Creative, BBH New York (@fittedsweats)

Late in the spring, British Airways gave us a great brief for North America. Last year they held a contest where they gave out hundreds of free international flights (and shipping) to small business owners in the U.S. so that they could do business face-to-face rather than just via email, iChat, Skype and…fax. They hold the belief that face-to-face contact helps seal more deals rather than just staying put and hoping for the best—which in the current economy, we’re probably more likely to do. Stay the course. Take less risks. Tread water. Shutter the place. Etc.

We immediately told them we would use the entire budget to make a feature length-documentary about the death of the use of the fax machine in Sacramento-area small businesses between ’98-’08, while also weaving in our commentary on the dearth of new ideas in leather belt holsters for mobile devices.

They pushed back. Gently.

Actually, that last paragraph’s not true. BA were giving away more free flights this year, and thought last year’s winners—in telling their own unique success stories—would inspire other small business owners here to enter this year’s contest, and go see their clients and prospective clients face-to-face.

Meeting real people who’ve dreamt up their own business and are ambitious enough to make it a reality was the fun part. Working with a budget that didn’t allow us to send clients, directors, producers, account people and creatives back to far-flung locations to recreate face-to-face meetings was the challenge.

Tireless creatives Jessica Shriftman and Zac Sax teamed with director Chris Bren and Picture Farm out of Brooklyn, as well as photographer Todd Selby, and BBH editors Mark Block and Jonah Oskow to bring stories from a handful of the most compelling businesses to life. Throughout the summer, the group was fueled for the most part by Kombucha tea and it’s startling before-taste.

The films (and the chance to win) can be found at British Airways’ Face of Opportunity site, and, we hope, elsewhere.

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