Downtown Royal Oak Summer 2020


As you may recall, COVID happened. And like a lot of communities, Downtown Royal Oak – where we have our office – was hit hard. For a local economy that lives or dies with the health of retail shops, restaurants, bars, live entertainment, coffee shops and hair salons, things were bad.

As the statewide pandemic rules loosened and the downtown started to pick up again, we were asked by the Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority if we had any thoughts on what a campaign to promote the downtown should look and sound like. We did:

“Royal Open.”

The hook was this: Let’s celebrate the resilience of the businesses and people who make Downtown Royal Oak everything it is. And let’s let people know that – while things aren’t exactly the same as they were in 2019 – Royal Oak is in fact open . . . Royal Open.

To bring the campaign to life, we spent a week hitting the streets of downtown with our cameras and fistfuls of model releases . . . documenting what life in Downtown Royal Oak was like in the summer of 2020.

We used that photography to create billboards, social media posts, online banners and a :30 second television commercial.

Still photography in a motion medium?

Yes. We wanted the commercial to feel of-the-moment and real . . . both of which it was. Nothing was faked. What you see is what we found that week exploring our neighborhood.

Using stills also meant we could work a lot faster and a lot cheaper. Plus, we’d seen the technique used from time to time in the destination marketing area and liked both the feeling of immediacy it can give and the way it can help clients with smaller budgets afford to look bigger. We were looking for an opportunity to try it out and see what might happen.

The campaign, like all campaigns, was the work of many hands. Not just the Factory crew (in particular Izabela Skonieczka and Shana Preuett, with an assist from Rob Johnston, Michelle McMahon, Lugene Bernard and Tiffany Vedua), but also Factory friends Tom Parr, Yessian Music (Brian Yessian and Gerard Smerek), Ron Rose Milagro (Russ Fitzpatrick and Christiaan Meyer), iGroup and a great young voice talent named Stephanie Chung.

This assignment meant a lot to us. Because Downtown Royal Oak means a lot to us. It’s our home and part of our daily lives. We were thrilled to be able to work on this.