Editorial Emergency, Live in Concert

ImageWe write a lot of stuff.

The phone rings, the in-box pings, and soon we're enlisted to squelch another editorial emergency by cranking out packaging copy, jazzing up an e-newsletter, dreaming up print-ad taglines or fashioning a spray of splash-page blurbs.

What we don't often do is see how our work functions after the client approves it. Where does it go? How do people feel about it? Do they ever wear it around their necks?

We recently had the opportunity to answer some of these questions — at least regarding a significant amount of the work we've generated over the past several months.

Marketing Factory, inventors of "integrated music lifestyle programs," first hired us to write copy for the Honda Civic Tour in 2007. A nationwide rock trek featuring top alternative bands and various Honda vehicles, the tour has been the carmaker's youth-marketing juggernaut since its inception in 2001. With each Honda Civic Tour, we've been entrusted with more and more copy; the 2010 outing, headlined by the Grammy-nominated outfit Paramore, afforded us the greatest variety of assignments yet.

In addition to all kinds of content for the souvenir "pocket guide" that's handed out to attendees by HCT "brand ambassadors" (see ladies above), we've crafted (among other things) text-to-screen bounceback copy, scripts for a PSA broadcast at the show, "wheelstand copy" for a Honda PCX scooter, online tour updates, press releases, parking passes, cards instructing fans how to download pictures of themselves posing with a band-customized Honda, and wording for the tour's commemorative scrapbook.

We rarely see our work outside the confines of our insular office world, and when we did, well, we geeked out.

We've loved working on the Civic Tour and have truly appreciated the on-the-ball collaborative spirit of the Marketing Factory team. Yet when they invited us to attend the final show of this year's tour, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, we were oddly surprised. And excited. We looked forward not only to the music but to seeing how it all came together, how Honda's premiere experiential branding effort looked in three dimensions.

What we hadn't imagined was how much of our own work would be in evidence. We rarely see it outside the confines of our insular office world, and when we did, well, we geeked out.

Stepping into the arena and ambling down its miles of steps, we saw thousands of audience members — most of them squarely "in the demo" — poring over the guide. They roared as Paramore appeared on the Jumbotron reciting words WE'D written. They giggled as staffers handed them little cards bearing our photo-retrieval haiku. And thanks to the clip-equipped HCT lanyards they'd been given, they wore their pocket guides around their necks like all-access laminates.

ImageWe were particularly fortunate to have been accompanied in our constitutional around the Honda Center by HCT graphic designer and all-around cool guy Rob Mitchell (of Graphics 101) and his delightful spouse, Susan O'Brien Mitchell, who just happens to be a brilliant proofreader (she lends her eagle peepers to HCT collateral). Since we'd worked together on the booklet, we all savored the nerdy joy of seeing consumers making use of it.

During the pre-show meet-and-greet with the band, Rob told Paramore that we were "the souvenir-program people"; flame-haired singer Hayley Williams, whose cheerful professionalism should be studied by all aspiring pop singers, was complimentary enough to make US feel like rock stars.

Kudos to Marketing Factory and Honda for keeping this well-oiled machine humming along, and our thanks to MF honcho Rob Tonkin for making EE part of the show. We can't wait to put our next batch of words on the road.