Responses by Jim Elliott, executive creative director, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
Background: The goal was to remind the world why San Francisco has been and will always be one of the greatest cities on the planet—period—by asserting the city’s role as an innovative, thriving hub for business and the arts. The audience is both local businesses and residents, but also business leaders from around the world, with the immediate target audience being the global business leaders and government officials attending the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting, chaired by President Biden, from November 11 through November 17 in San Francisco.
Design thinking: The thinking was to let the facts speak for themselves and to have some fun with those facts. The truth is that San Francisco has always been a center of promise and potential, a beacon for forward-thinkers, changemakers and iconoclasts. Some of the greatest, most influential companies, brands and IPs the world has ever known got their start here—and it’s still true to this day. The Gap. Google. HP. Levi’s. Lucasfilm. OpenAI. Pixar. Tesla. Twitter. Uber. The list goes on and on.
Challenges: The logistics of getting more than 35 major brands and personalities to join hands for this cause was no small feat—big props to our business affairs department for pulling it off so quickly! But their willingness to do just that is a testament to their steadfast belief in the ambition of this campaign. This is about businesses helping businesses, and a return to economic vibrancy in San Francisco is in everyone’s best interest.
Favorite details: As I mentioned above, featuring all these major companies, brands, estates and IPs in our anthem film and throughout the entire campaign without a lot of back and forth—and without their jockeying for certain positions within it—was a major accomplishment. And then getting actor and Bay Area local Peter Coyote to be our voice was icing on the cake.
New lessons: Doing a deep-dive refresher course on the history of San Francisco—about all the companies that got their start here and all the great thinkers, artists and iconoclasts who helped define the fabric of this place—has made me prouder than ever to live here. I’m a North Carolinian by birth, but for some reason, my heart has always connected with the West Coast in general and San Francisco in particular. As a writer and storyteller and an ad creative myself, I understand more deeply now why that is: creativity thrives here.
Visual influences: San Francisco is a never-ending smorgasbord of visual inspiration. The logo treatment, for instance, was inspired by San Francisco’s classic, iconic street signs and famous intersections—e.g., Haight and Ashbury. And the campaign is really about the fabric of San Francisco being this crazy confluence and intersection of wildly diverse people and ideas, so that logomark is very apropos. The rest of the campaign borrows from the eclectic visual vernacular of San Franciscan culture, so the influences run deep throughout the work.
Time constraints: We were on a fast track, to say the least, so we never had time to overthink things or overnoodle the work. We wrote fast and designed fast. There was an artful, soulful flow to our process. We listened to our hearts and guts and tried to channel the spirit of all the great artists, poets, agitators and mischief-makers who shaped the vibe of this city.
Specific project demands: We needed to raise money to fund the campaign. We had virtually no time to do that. But once we did, we then needed the permission of more than 35 big brands and personalities to include them in the work. it was all very challenging from day one, but the team is incredible, and making miracles happen on tight timelines is our specialty.