We’ve all heard the phrase…
Right place at the right time.
I was lucky.
The stars aligned, or
The events just fell into place.
These are phrases that depict chance moments in life that fall within that dashed line somewhere between the first date and the last date that’s carved on our tombstone. And, if we make the most of them, these chance moments have the opportunity to be larger than ourselves. We have a chance to make them mean more.
You just have to be prepared for your platform.
Jennifer Page and her family were seated in a Denny’s restaurant marveling over the exponential growth of YouTube hits on a particular 2011 Volkswagen Super Bowl Commercial. You’ve probably seen it. An imaginative child pretending to be the Dark Lord of the Sith using the power of the force to move everyday objects around his quiet suburban home. The family dog, his PB&J and toys just won’t budge. The force? — Not working at all, that is, until Dad comes home and activates the remote start on the all-new Passat to a now amazed Darth Vader.
But exactly who was the child behind the mask?
His name is Max, and he’s a little brother to Ellison and a son to Jennifer and Buck Page. In the morning after the Super Bowl, Jennifer and her son, Max, were guests on the Today Show to reveal to the world that he was the lucky child behind the Darth Vader mask. Then some stars aligned. Coincidentally, that Monday morning was the start of Congenital Heart Awareness Week. And Max, yes little Darth Vader himself, has Congenital Heart Disease. So they used their platform on the Today Show to raise awareness for a disease that is the number one birth defect and kills more children than all childhood cancers combined. Max’s story is one of courage and opportunity, and one that we – as advertisers – can look to as an example in being prepared to champion for your platform.
But before you champion, ask yourself “Are you a consumer, or are your going to contribute?” In other words don’t make your career all about yourself. Be a part of the cycle. Be someone who not only gives, but also gives back to the community in which you live. It’s not just about donating money to a cause. Although that does help, money is not the only way to get involved. You always have time to give even when you don’t have money to offer.
Here are three points that will help you be more prepared for your platform.
We’re in a society consumed with sensory overload. Beats, reality TV, perfecting the economy of words in 140 characters. What filter should I use again? Snap-What?? Rarely do we take time to just listen. And it’s through listening and observation when we as advertisers are able to take the normal everyday life and give it back to the consumer in the form of heart felt stories that move the needle. Never forget this important fact, regardless of how tech savvy or digitally connected we become. We’re still human. Our job as advertisers may be to take the everyday obvious and tug at the hearts strings of the audience, but we also need to master listening in order to relate to their humanness, to get that call to action, product sale or donation to a cause.
Be Open Minded:
You never know whom you may meet at a social gathering, networking event or client meeting. In fact, you may not get who you want at the table at all, but if you’re open minded you might realize that you actually get the person you need instead. Remember, partnerships begin with people. They’re not two faceless global brands ready to knock the socks off the world. It’s people on either end of the deal that makes the difference.
Embrace Community Partnerships:
There are many groups that can be elevated with your skill set, and if you’re in a position in your career where you lack experience in a certain area then consider volunteering. There are many companies out there that can benefit from your expertise while benefiting from positive change. Companies like the National Ad Council, Causewave Community Partners, Make-A-Wish and even your local AAF Ad Club.
After you made it, don’t forget to give back when it’s your turn. Always remember that you’re never too big, too famous or too fancy to be a part of the community. You were once in need of mentorship, so always give back to the up-and-comers so they, too, can have their chance moment. We all should have the chance to make these opportunities mean more.
And if you do, you’ll find that you’ll always be in the right place at the right time. Just like little Darth Vader in front of that Passat.
About the Author
Joe currently serves on the NA3 committee for the AAF and is a former AAF club president of the Rochester Advertising Federation from District 2. He’s co-owner and Creative Director at Brandtatorship, a boutique advertising agency in Western New York that specializes in forging ideas that help companies take charge of their brand. Read more.