Brains on Fire is an identity development/word of mouth marketing shop in the micro city of Greenville, South Carolina. I learned of them just a few months ago, and this little shop away from the traditional meccas of marketing deserves the growing reach it is extending as ambassadors of cool but conscientious marketing strategies. Here's a few reasons I love ‘em:
1. The People.
I don’t know the whole gang, but the folks I’ve been in touch with over the past few months, Spike Jones (Chief Fire Starter) and Geno Church (Word of Mouth Inspiration Officer) have extended kind words and precious time to me again and again. Geno and Spike respond to my tweets and crazy e-mail questions. We're not in each other's back yard throwing another shrimp on the bar-bee, but they know how to keep it real with cyber relationships. They're good folks.
2. The Haka.
Haka is a traditional dance of the Maori people of New Zealand. As a demonstration of team and community building, BOF choreographs and performs haka dances. Here’s their explanation and a haka performed at this years’ Fire Sessions.
3. Fire Sessions
An annual gathering, the FIRE (Fascinate, Inspire, Reward and Engage) Sessions bring together best practitioners in branding and word of mouth marketing. They invite speakers like John Moore (Brand Autopsy and now WOMMA), Jackie Hubba (Church of the Customer) and Dan Heath (Made to Stick), providing a great learning environment with thought and practice leaders from far-flung places.
4. Memorable Origins Story
In 1998, two local Greenville shops came together to form Phillips, Goot, Greg & Greg. Most agreed this was a bad name with which to launch into a positive future. One day, during a particularly memorable rant about a particularly potent idea, the ranter (Greg Cordell) mussed up his hair and said, "That really sets my [blinkering] brain on fire!" History was thusly made.
These people are passionate about the work, and about things that touch them. I probably would not know about Love 146, an anti-child sex slavery organization which BOF tirelessly promotes. When BOF get a new account, they throw a giant "Jolly Roger" pirate flag (with skull aflame) over the side of their building. Arrrr! And you should learn more about their tequila shots.
6. Thanks to BOF, pinking shears are back, baby!
One of the most storied case studies in the BOF portfolio is Fiskars, a Finnish maker of crafting and gardening tools, in business since 1649. BOF found the fans of their products, and the "Fiskateers" were born. BOF teaches us how to stoke the flames of fan-dom.
Are there other good regional ad shops around who are doing similar things to BOF? Probably. But they’re in my orbit because they preach AND demonstrate the power of relationship. They remind their clients that it’s the customer who really owns the brand. They set my [blinkering] brain on fire.