Talyn Riedesel



Agency Life, Branding, Community, Events

I could tell you how awesome my product is, or I could drop it from a helicopter.

That’s just what Doritos did in Duluth, MN, to rah-rahs and excited chatter. Not only did it help them introduce its new flavor, “HeatWave,” it also captured the attention of our newsfeeds and friends.

“It was cool to witness. A helicopter flew across the harbor to the center of Bayfield Festival Park while suspending a pallet of Doritos from a 100+ foot rope,” Swim’s project manager, Max Hutchens, said.

This is often referred to as a “branded experience” or “experiential marketing.” Besides being buzzworthy, the benefits of experiences like this multiple quickly.

Branded Experience > News Stories > People Share on Social > Water Cooler Discussion

But, wait! There’s more. If you’re smart, you’ve sent a camera crew to capture the moment and established a hashtag. Now, you’ve boatloads of footage and photos to use for future marketing.

> Footage > Videos > TV Commercial > Print Ads > Endless Uses

You’ve built an entire campaign just from one day. (Note: The event is one day, but it may require months and months of planning.)

Another brand to do this locally was Lululemon. Working with local fitness studio, Evolve Duluth, the athletic gear company brought a truck with a see-through trailer holding a top-of-the-line treadmill.

People were invited to try on a Lululemon product and take it for a literal test run. After a few minutes, the product testers gave their feedback and ended up walking away with free Lululemon gear. People interacted with the brand, shared on social media and willingly helped the brand collect data. Wins all-around.

Our senior copywriter, Gia Bellamy, said of the experience, “It was a really smart way for Lululemon to introduce the brand to a broader runner market. They’ve traditionally been thought of as a yoga company, so bringing their product into the community to be tested out by actual runners makes a lot of sense.”

Maybe it’s time to add branded experiences to your marketing arsenal.

Plan it right, and you can build moments that stick with people long after the initial event. Moments you can share again and again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Just remember to make sure your branded experience is actually on-brand. If you’re selling a veggie burger, don’t invite people to a pig roast.

What’s the coolest branded experience you’ve seen?

Talyn Riedesel



Agency Life, All News, Events

Swim Creative does not take birthday parties lightly. Especially our tenth. In honor of the big 1-0, we’re throwing The Cannon Ball, a bash at Clyde Iron Works on August 11. As much as we wish parties would just plan themselves, they don’t. Here’s the breakdown of how we’re making sure The Cannon Ball reflects Swim and is declared: Unmissable.

  1. Hire a Party Planner

Seriously. These people are professionals at throwing parties. They’ll do it right. Make sure to find a team that comes to the brainstorming table with lots of good ideas but listens and gives you lots of creative freedom. We’ve found our party partners in Northland Special Events.

  1. Brainstorm a Theme

It doesn’t have to be over the top, but giving your party a cohesive look and feel will definitely add to the allure. We’re going with early 20th-century cruise, meaning lots of cool old globes, gold detailing, sailing flags and shuffleboard.

  1. Beats, Beats, Beats

Whether your budget is small or large, not having music is not an option. We’ll be playing our fav playlists on Spotify, but we haven’t forgotten how much fun a live band brings to the night. The big draw of The Cannon Ball will be performances by Big Wave Dave and the Ripples and Portrait of a Drowned Man.

  1. Refreshments

You don’t need alcohol to have a good time, but it’s definitely a fun add-on. If you can, get creative with the drinks you serve. We’ll be having specialty drinks inspired by our new branding, including a mystery drink called Sail the Electric Cyan.

Also, always have water available because dancing is dehydrating.

  1. Rally Around Someone or Something

Make your party not just about you. Have part of your entrance fee or beverage purchases go toward a good cause. For us, that means the $10 suggested donation goes straight to Wildwoods Wildlife Rehabilitation and the construction of their new building. Get wild for wildlife, everybody!

  1. Have Fun with It

Imagine a killer party. Then plan a killer party. If you’d be excited to get invited to it, you can bet others will be, too.

  1. Just Breathe

Planning can get hectic. Make sure to take a step back and calm yourself. The beauty of a party is that it isn’t organized out second by second. Make sure the elements are all there and then let things happen naturally. And if something goes wrong, work around it. Food doesn’t arrive, call Jimmy John’s. The mic isn’t working, make light of it and keep the party rolling. If you’re still having fun so will others.

At the end of the night, no one will remember the issues. They’ll remember the good vibes and great times, and hopefully, start asking you when’s the next bash.

Want to celebrate with us? Click here for all the details.

Talyn Riedesel



All News, Design

Marshall School is an independent school overlooking Lake Superior, smack dab in the middle of Duluth. Twice a year the school sends out the Marshall Hilltopper, a publication showcasing stories from students, teachers and alumni. Recently, Swim partnered with Marshall to design the Hilltopper, weaving the Marshall branding and theme of “Mapping Marshall’s Influence” throughout the piece. Playing off this theme, our designer sprinkled it with map graphics and splashes of color. The resulting Hilltopper strikes the perfect balance of youthful energy and professionalism.

thursday_hilltopper02 thursday_hilltopper03 thursday_hilltopper04 thursday_hilltopper05thursday_hilltopper01

You never know what could happen on any given day, especially when you’re living life fully. You could run into a friend on your morning jog—or a tree. When it’s the latter, you want a trauma team ready 24/7, 365 days a year. That’s where St. Luke’s Regional Trauma Center steps in. They want you to live and enjoy life, but to know they’ve got your back.

So we captured the moment before something potentially bad could happen and highlighted the trauma-maker in bright black or yellow. To relate to both of our active young adults and those who love them, we featured activities that they enjoyed such as mountain biking and rock climbing.

We aligned every marketing piece with the CTA of “Choose St. Luke’s.” Now they have a campaign that captures their commitment to care in a grown-up world.



Talyn Riedesel



Advertising, All News

Every year, an average of 260,000 people get engaged on Valentine’s Day. According to a USA Today article, in 2013, the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,598. While the costs are rising, one tradition may be starting to change. The eternal diamond.

But before we travel down that road, let’s answer this question: how did diamonds come to represent everlasting love in the first place?

It all comes down to advertising.

The year was 1938, and the outlook was grim. Deep in the grips of the depression and with war knocking on America’s door, profits were falling for De Beers, a jewellery company. To ease their woes, they sought out ad agency, N.W. Ayer & Son.

The agency went to work researching society’s views on diamonds. Hardly anyone bought diamonds for engagement rings–hardly anyone bought engagement rings, for that matter. Diamonds were not rare nor did their worth rise with time. Their value decreases by 50% as soon as they leave the store.

So how the heck do you make something like that synonymous with “priceless”?

You attach it to the ultimate emotion: love.

The agency crafted an in-depth marketing scheme. According to The Atlantic, they used the newest technology of the day, motion pictures, to spread their idea that diamonds were the key to wooing a woman. The article also went onto explain all the various ways N.W. Ayer used public relations, such as articles and photos in newspaper and magazines and discussions on radio shows that would “reinforce the link between diamonds and love.” Celebrities and the British Royal Family even played a part in the campaign. Print ads used famous artists’ work to convey the idea that these jewels were priceless. The slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever” brought the movement alive, with its promise of everlasting love with every ring. This line became so powerful in our culture it was named the slogan of the 20th Century by Advertising Age.

And boy, did their plan work. Within three years of the campaign’s launch, De Beers’ sales increased by 55%. A whole new tradition was born, and men’s wallets suspiciously thinned.

But after nearly a hundred years and a new cultural norm, diamond popularity is declining. With people seeking more unique stones and the internet allowing people to find out the true history behind their rings and their worth (we haven’t even touched on blood diamonds), a new era may be upon us. A simple Google search garners tons of articles for “Diamonds are not a girl’s best friend.”

With change in the air, it means it is exactly the time for another gem stone company to pounce. If a certain gem company can position themselves as a true investment, a true symbol of modern love, they could take the world by storm. The change can already be seen taking off with celebrities and fashion blogs. It is the perfect time for the un-diamond (better-named campaign pending) to appear on the scene.

Even if diamonds were to be completely unused in rings (which is unlikely) the fact remains that couples would still feel propelled to buy rings. That is what makes the De Beers’ case a powerful example of the strength in advertising. If you do your research, plan well and utilize technology, you can change the way the world works, hopefully for the better.

Talyn Riedesel



All News, Digital, Events, Social

For 114.4 million viewers, its largest audience in history, the Super Bowl did not disappoint. Social media numbers rose as well, with a momentous 28.4 million tweets during the big game. Brands and advertisers seized this ever-growing audience and had some fun.

Here are our winners of the 2015 #brandbowl:


Budweiser. Their “Lost Dog” ad garnered aww’s and likes, and in the end, became the most shared video across all media during the game. The puppy love didn’t stop there though, the ad won the top spot on USA Today’s Ad Meter, the second year in a row for the brand. But what truly defined their devotion to the craft of social media was Budweiser’s four social media stations across the nation ready to buy keywords and follow the chatter throughout the game.




Always. With an inspirational video inviting the world to change the meaning of #likeagirl, this brand created waves across the socialsphere. Celebrities such as Julianne Hough and Demi Lovato chimed in with over 400,000 others during the night. Eighty-four percent of those mentions were positive and generated 920 million engagements. Their hashtag has become a rallying call for women everywhere.



McDonalds. The big chain food stop utilized social media the entire evening. For every ad, the brand had a response and a relevant prize. For example, their tweet following a Toyota commercial invited followers to RT for the chance to win a free Camry. People retweeted in droves and seemed to be enjoying the lovin’.




Monster.com. The job search site played a nice little trick with their tweet congratulating the Seattle Seahawks on their win. This sneaky play got them retweeted more than 4,000 times.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 3.32.28 PM



Nationwide. While they were the most mentioned brand during the game, that figure doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Their ad, which started out light and whimsical, took a dark turn when it explained that the main character, a little boy, had died due to an accident. Social media started barking, and not in a good way. About 64% of reactions were negative. They are currently doing clean up duty, but with articles still buzzing about the ad, time could be on their side.



Which brand do you think deserved some love?


Talyn Riedesel



All News

In recent years, the business publishing world has been awash in books on the power of culture. Culture, the thinking goes, is the single best indicator of corporate health, employee engagement and overall performance.

Put another way, if your people want to be there, chances are they’re gonna work harder.

Nowhere is the care and feeding of culture more important and more apparent than in an advertising agency. In our world, culture is really the only thing we have. In most businesses, if you take away the machines, the production stops. But if your business is producing creative solutions to business problems, really, all you need is to connect your brain with other brains.

Usually, we achieve this mild meld with a little something we like to call “talking.”

“Writing stuff down” is another super important part of creative ideation. As the writer Dale Dauten said, “It’s called a pen. It’s like a printer, hooked straight into my brain.”

Everything else—the computers, the phones, the tablets, the platforms, the technology, the you name it—is just a way to bring the ideas to life.

So, if your product is ideas and your production is human brains, culture is pretty much the whole shootin’ match.

Which is why chemistry is so important.

Chemistry is that hard-to-define, I-know-it-when-I-feel-it glue that creates and defines culture. It’s the space between employer and employee, between co-workers, between clients and agency. It’s the bond between our molecules, holding the system in place. And if you’re not careful, if you’re not diligent, if you expect chemistry to just take care of itself, well…

Your culture can get pretty screwy, pretty quickly.

At Swim, we don’t always get it right. Sometimes, in the crush of deadlines, or under the pressure of ideation, we take our focus off of deliberately protecting our culture. And we can feel the effects almost immediately. But mostly, we are our culture’s fiercest advocates. We can point to a coffee table and say, “That’s a Swim coffee table,” because we know who we are. Our people know it. Our clients know it.

Like we say all the time in our industry, “If you can cover the logo in the ad and it could be an ad for your competitor, it’s a crappy ad.” The same is true for agencies.

If you take the name off the door, culture should let you know that you’re in the right place.

Talyn Riedesel



All News

Chrome Cube Lab is a site where people can create and share their very own Rubik’s Cube designs.

“The Cube was born in 1974 as a teaching tool to help me and my students better understand space and 3D. The Cube challenged us to find order in chaos. Since then, technology has made fantastic progress in bringing new possibilities to how we learn and how we tackle bewildering complexity. Chrome Cube Lab takes full advantage of that progress by encouraging curiosity and problem-solving skills.”

-Professor Ernő Rubik

Read full article via Chrome Cube Lab | Chrome.com