The Idealog + Blunt + Generator Umbrella Experiment

The Idealog + Blunt + Generator Umbrella Experiment - Publishers become manufacturers

Idealog is one of the few media brands dedicated to celebrating the best of New Zealand’s design industry. And Blunt is a New Zealand company with a long history of using its design skills to create more beautiful, more functional umbrellas. So, after meeting with Blunt and asking if they wanted to do something cool together, we came up with the idea of launching a crowd-sourced umbrella experiment.

We asked our audience to submit a design that reflected New Zealand’s modern identity, and the winner would end up on a limited-edition umbrella and get a heap of prizes, including a six-month co-working tenancy at Generator worth $28,000.  It was risky. But it also had the potential to be very rewarding.

Audiences: professional designers, amateur designers, artists, anyone interested in design, followers of fashion, entrepreneurs, students.

Solution overview: After working with our tech partner Shuttlerock to design the upload and voting mechanic, we created a brand, wrote a number of stories to promote the project and created an ad campaign as part of the call for entries, giving the sponsor brands a heap of exposure.

We promoted the campaign heavily across our digital and social channels (and also across our sister publications StopPress and The Register) and asked our audience to submit entries. We then asked the audience to vote for their favourite designs via the campaign page, with the People’s Choice winner going on to be included among the finalists.

To narrow it down to the finalists, the judges from Idealog, Blunt and Generator asked a few questions about the designs: 1) did it fit the brief and show us a clever interpretation of modern New Zealand identity? 2) Was it aesthetically pleasing? 3) Would it work on an umbrella? And 4) Was it commercially viable?

All the finalists and the special award winners were announced in a 6 page spread in the design issue of Idealog and then online and on social.

All those entries were then turned into real umbrellas by Blunt that were on display at a special pop-up magazine event where we announced the winning design, Bonnie Brown’s Blooming ‘Brella. That design went on to be turned into a limited edition Blunt umbrella.

The winner was announced in a story online and across social and Bonnie Brown will also receive a two-page profile in the upcoming edition of the magazine.

Results: This innovative campaign was a huge success. We had a total of 239 entries, with 82,509 page views on the entry page. There were 3,734 votes, 273 comments and 308 shares. The campaign led to a huge amount of social engagement, with Instagram the top social channel for designers to post their entries, speak about the competition and ask for votes. For example, Bonnie Brown’s post on Instagram about her win got 400 likes and 72 comments. 120 people came to the event at Generator where we announced the winner. The story about the winning entry was in Idealog’s most popular posts for more than 3 weeks.

And in the first week we received over 50 pre-orders.

We also received a beautiful note from Lily Bulman, 9, whose entry ‘cats don’t like rain’ was immortalised in umbrella form.

Endorsement: Greig Brebner, co-founder and design director, Blunt Umbrellas: “I don’t think I realised just how incredibly humbling The Umbrella Experiment would be, to see the number of Kiwis who turned our Blunt canvases into pieces of art was extraordinary. And not only the number of entrants, but the calibre and the creativity was just fantastic. Working with the stellar team at Idealog is always a good time, but we were so impressed by the whole process, and it is another nod to why they are such a key media point for design and art and business in New Zealand. One of the highlights was the brilliant final event, put on by Generator and Idealog, where all the finalists saw their Blunt’s in real life, and a fascinating panel with Sam Ramlu, Carin Wilson, and Andy Florkowski discussing design and identity. It was a world class event, and a huge congratulations to all who were involved - and most importantly to our winner Bonnie Brown, who we will be working with to produce a limited edition run of her design!”

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