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Be an Outsider at Work

Be an Outsider at Work | L.L. Bean | Jack Morton Worldwide
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Industry: Retail & Distribution
Style: Minimalism
Why is this work relevant for PR?

L.L.Bean, a 106 year-old outdoor retailer, had a new brand purpose: Made for the shared joy of the outdoors. But paid, push advertising alone wasn’t enough win consumers… especially during the Summer (a historically weak season).

The brand needed a PR campaign that would create proof on its new purpose. And it needed massive amounts of earned media to do it.

Be an Outsider at Work did just that, disrupting brand perception, delighting influencers and becoming a media darling. It was a sophisticated play to score coverage by targeted the media and its audience when they least expected it.


L.L.Bean was widely known as a fall and winter brand, represented in consumers’ minds by the boots and flannel on the pages of its iconic catalogues.

With no meaningfully positive L.L.Bean brand news in the recent past or on the horizon, its competitors were regularly making capturing headlines and the cultural zeitgeist, driving cultural relevance and notoriety.

And L.L.Bean had just committed to a new rallying cry: Be an Outsider. But quickly faced the fact that people are spending 95% of their lives inside. As such, our core objectives were:

1. Earned Relevance: Capture headlines to become relevant as a warm weather outdoor brand among lapsed and attracted (but not yet won) consumers.

2. Consumer Engagement: We wanted people to embrace and share L.L.Bean’s brand platform: “Be an Outsider.”

3. Behavior Change: Demonstrate an increased likelihood for participants to spend time outside and consider the L.L.Bean brand.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

L.L.Bean set out to change how – and where – people work with Be an Outsider at Work.

We opened the world’s first-ever outdoor co-working spaces, in partnership with Industrious, a collaborative workspace provider. Thousands of employees from top companies, including Google, IBM, McKinsey, Unilever, Superfly and Pinterest flocked to these innovative workplaces.

The campaign made it easy for business professionals nationwide to work outside. It included a research-driven white paper that focused national attention on the business value of working “out of office”; native digital daily tips that made work outside easy; and provocative NowThis branded content that started a lively conversation.

Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)

Despite how “outdoorsy” L.L.Bean’s consumers may seem, they’re not getting outside nearly enough.

They spend 95% of their lives indoors. 50% of that is at work.
The #1 force holding them back from time outside? Desk jobs.

The irony? People actually work better when they’re outside.
They’re 50% more productive. 300% more creative. 92% of them are happier. Academic researchers have studied it for years and published the results.

We saw an opportunity to make work a thing we do, instead of a place we go. So we created assets to make it clear: this is an irresistibly good idea. L.L.Bean opened the world’s first-ever outdoor co-working spaces in five cities. We published primary research, backed by workplace strategist and NYT bestselling author of “The Healthy Workplace,” Leigh Stringer. And we released easy tips for outside work, like making outdoor spaces bookable in calendars or making and interview an outerview.

Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)

L.L.Bean opened the first-ever outdoor co-working space in partnership with innovative collaborative workspace brand Industrious. Our partnership was unexpected for the media, which added credibility and interest.

To ensure we practiced what we were preaching, we began in Freeport on L.L.Bean’s own campus, optimizing work outside conditions, training managers and engaging employees. L.L.Bean also conducted primary research on working outside and co-authored a whitepaper with pre-eminent workplace strategist and NYT bestselling author of “The Healthy Workplace,” Leigh Stringer.

We launched publicly in NYC in Madison Square Park for national press, business press, influencers and a 27-interview satellite media tour with local affiliates. We continued to priority regional markets – Boston, Philadelphia, Madison – to score regional coverage.

The pitch strategically focused on business reporters who didn’t regularly cover L.L.Bean or its competitors, as we knew there would be more interest and that our target audience would be seeing their coverage.

List the results (30% of vote) – must include at least two of the following tiers:

L.L.Bean took work outside. And everyone followed.

The press said it best:

“The next frontier in office space? The outdoors.” – The New York Times

“L.L.Bean campaign brings new meaning to Out of Office.” – AdAge

“Office space hits the great outdoors.” – USA Today

Tier 1 – Earned Relevance: L.L.Bean earned 406MM impressions across 478 placements (271% of goal). The story landed on the front page of USA Today, America’s #1 newspaper. It also earned more coverage than ever in The New York Times, Inc., Forbes, ABC, NBC, CBS and more. PR message pull-through was 100%, with 83% carrying two or more messages.

Tier 2 – Consumer Engagement: L.L.Bean’s social engagement rate was 4.4x the industry average, across 4MM digital video views and 86K social reactions. Its corporate reputation skyrocketed to #4 on The Harris Poll’s 2019 Corporate Reputation Rankings of the 100 “most visible companies” in America, up 11 spots from the year prior. L.L.Bean’s ranked #2 in America for Organizational Character, which it hadn’t ranked for the year before.

Tier 3 – Behavior Change: Interest in L.L.Bean significantly increased, yielding a 73% lift in branded search queries at launch and 14% lift during the life of the campaign, driving to its E-Commerce business. And as a brand that knows it wins when its consumers get outside, it was ideal that 95% of participants surveyed said they’ll work outside in the future.

Inc. has the final word:
“Upset you missed it? Petition L.L.Bean to do it again."
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist PR
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