PURPLE HAIR IN A CORPORATE WORLD

The mission of Remote Year is to change the way the world thinks about work. It’s a BIG goal, but their point is you don’t have to be stuck in a cubicle every day to be a productive worker. They’re trying to prove this lifestyle is sustainable.
I’ve got a lot of smart friends with cool jobs, so I wanted to also focus on their work experiences and how blending the millennial mindset with other organizations is working out. First up, New York based ad whiz Cristina Pansolini.

“Mike, I have something to tell you… and I really hope you’re cool with it because I already booked the appointment.” Known for asking for forgiveness instead of permission, I decided to dye my hair pastel purple days before a huge Army meeting, one of the more conservative organizations in the US.

BUT FIRST, CONTEXT.

I’m a brand strategist at an advertising agency called McCann — yes, the one from Mad Men. Strategists create everything from the brand purpose, what it stands for, what the strategic direction the creative should go in (TV, social, digital, events, etc.), what consumer research the brand needs, and more.

I currently work on two tiny brands you might have heard of: the U.S. Army and the New York Lottery. For this, we’ll be focusing on the former.

GOING PURPLE

Dyeing my hair pastel purple while working in a notoriously conservative category (military) was something I decided to do to break the mold. The client wanted ‘cooler’ work to appeal to their new, younger prospect pool (Generation Z). As their brand strategist, I took a leap and showed up to a meeting of top Army marketers with a head of purple hair.

My boss, Mike, was all for it. As the youngest on our team, I’ve become the resident Gen Z expert for the client. Every quarter I present an hour-long PowerPoint on some aspect of this new generation, from their technology habits, to their influencers, to the way they learn. Mike felt the Army would see my new look as a breath of fresh air in their typically conservative mindset.

As it turns out, they did. There were the shocked smiles and awkward high fives at first, but I backed up my fresh new look with some fresh new insights into the target they’re trying to speak to.

THE RESULT

I’ve traveled to several cities to present my knowledge of Gen Z to different recruitment stations across the nation.

The client is paying McCann to film me presenting a Gen Z educational film that will live on in their recruitment school.

I’ve been tasked with my own research project that allows me to travel the U.S., talking to teens about how they make decisions for their future (in order to create what we call ‘Consumer Journeys’ in advertising).

I’ve turned my Gen Z knowledge and research into a book that McCann will be using for both a gift to the U.S. Army and as a thought leadership piece in new business pitches.

THE TAKEAWAY

Find your niche, and run with it. And then do it all over again with something new. Nobody likes a one-trick pony.