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The definitive answer to “Why a panda?”


That's Peter Panda to you, pal

Long before Tagawa “Peter” Panda was credited with coining the phrase “social media” and prior to his foggy past on the Chinese game reserve, he was conceived in a St. Louis coffee shop and carefully brought to life in a grassy field located in a west St. Louis suburb.

It was here that a rough homage to the movie Office Space brought forth a bat-wielding, surly young panda and unwittingly launched a video that (with some influencer outreach and paid boosts) caught a brief, viral jet stream and brought this “f-ing brilliant panda” to the mainstream.

Here’s how:

A client of ours, PitchEngine, wanted us to help them launch their service around a theme we had been preaching for a long time: that the traditional press release was as popular now as a rerun of T.J. Hooker and used about as much as a Flowbee home haircutting system. In putting together an integrated approach, we wanted the launch to center around a video that would tease the notion of “the press release is dead.”

An intern of ours, Ken Hieronymus, took the assignment and came back with a parody video mimicking the Office Space scene where the copy machine is pulverized in an adjacent field. Lovingly crafted to be exact to the original — frame by frame with the exact movements, camera cuts and everything — with one exception: David Herman’s character (Michael Bolton) was inexplicably replaced by a man in a panda suit.

Why? Why not?

We kept Ken’s original vision and sent it on to the client. They loved it, and the launch was centered around this video and bolstered with online influencer seeding, media outreach and paid boosts.

What came of it was a small hit. But the gold was in the comments. It seemed that the random and unexplained panda was the breakout star of the video – not the bruised and battered press release that looked like it just finished a date with Ike Turner.

But instead of going into a case study of how our Triangulation approach to an integrated campaign quickly raised awareness for our client who was launching a new product into the marketplace (that’s a mouthful), I wanted to touch on this story as a hallmark of our culture here at Elasticity (and explain, once and for all, “Why the panda?”).

The real key here is that the idea rules the day around our offices. See the post on Viva La Idea. Unadulterated and unfiltered, a good idea should not be watered down, and we stand behind that great idea. Even if your first gut reaction is “Why?!” We go beyond the comfort zone and stretch ourselves creatively.

We also like to point out that the idea came from our intern at the time. While a lot of other agencies have interns who are “seen and not heard,” our interns (and everyone, really) have a full and equal voice at Elasticity. A good idea is a good idea — regardless of where it came from. Flattened creative hierarchies and a culture that supports something that isn’t comfortably mainstream has led to great results for our clients.

And a great culture lead by a panda of all things. Why?

Why not?

Viva La Idea!

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