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Rochester Design Company Plants the Letter X All Over Detroit

Trent Design in Rochester designed and implemented a guerrilla marketing campaign to promote the ongoing Art X Detroit Festival.

Trent Design in Rochester is branching out in both its location and design, which is evident in its guerrilla marketing campaign produced for the Art X Detroit celebration. The art festival began Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

Thanks to Trent Design, the letter “X” is clearly visible in many areas of Detroit, where the company will soon be opening up another branch. Earlier this week, the Trent Design team was busily planting yellow X’s, putting up vinyl graphics of the letter x on an array of buildings and posting halves of X’s on about 20 lamp posts to get residents thinking about Art X Detroit.

They also had the opportunity to use a large projector as part of the campaign, aiming a giant yellow X and an animated video onto the outside of both the Detroit Public Library and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

“We wanted to pique people’s curiosity – invade the neighborhood with this brand – in a polite and funny way,” said Annmarie Borucki, a client of Trent and marketing manager for University Cultural Center Association.

For years, Trent Design has served as a full-service design agency, but Creative Director Marilyn Trent said this was one of the first guerrilla marketing campaigns that their crew has had the opportunity to work on. It was a lot of work and there wasn’t a lot of time to work on it, but Trent said the outcome was still great.

“We really believed in this project. It was an exciting project for us to do as a creative company,” Trent said. “When we get an opportunity like this to do something more creative, it’s great.”

Both Trent and Michael Johns, art director for Trent Design, said that the 2000 small X’s they planted in the lawn surrounding Wayne State University and the DIA were popular. According to Trent, the X’s were about six inches by six inches in size, read “Take me” on the front and included a Quick Response bar code for camera phones that would link to the art celebration’s website.

Johns was happy to note that it appeared plenty of people were taking the X’s that were perched on dowels, and some were even replanting them elsewhere.

“The displays got people asking questions,” Trent said. “It’s not the same as receiving a flier; people don’t tend to want another flier. We figured, if it looks different, maybe something different will happen.”

Better yet, Trent said that even if the X fell off the dowel, the crew figured out the promotional pieces could double as Frisbees.

Johns said there was a significant number of people stopping and staring at all of their displays, which is the idea behind the project. He said that all of the vinyl graphics that were placed on glass doors were at least five feet by five feet, but many were larger. One of the projections stretched the whole length of the Detroit Public Library according to Johns, and the other stretched 80 feet and was two stories tall.

“Basically, guerrilla marketing is meant to think past traditional advertising and get people thinking non-traditionally; it’s a different type of engagement,” Trent explained. “Watching people’s reactions was perfect, it was text book.”

“It’s more interesting," agreed Johns. "It’s not like a poster on the wall, not like seeing a website – it’s more interactive,” Johns said.

Like Johns, Trent went on to say that passersby were stopping to take pictures and just staring and engaging in the advertising. If the weather had cooperated throughout their promotional period, they would have been able to execute all of their plans including chalking the sidewalks. Borucki noted that the animated projection would have had more impact as well if it wasn’t raining, but she was pleased nonetheless.

“They sped off with the idea and produced everything we wanted and then some,” Borucki said. “They really owned it.”

Kishore Dharmarajan April 09, 2011 at 05:28 PM
The X is a great idea, but you could also try the Sniper Marketing method, which is all about finding what is going on in people's mind. Here is a little more detail on Sniper Marketing: http://www.prweb.com/releases/guerilla/marketing/prweb8275155.htm
aSuburbunDetroiter April 09, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I think this is a cool idea! I love that the pieces were clearly marked as "Take Me", doubled as frisbees, and had a QR code on them. I wish more companies would spend time and energy on interesting marketing like this rather than direct mail and e-mail stuff that just gets thrown away or ignored. Nice job Art X / Trent Design. I look forward to what's in store next!

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