Downtown Royal Oak Summer 2020

Here are a few things you need to know about Factory: We’re a small business, our office is in the heart of Downtown Royal Oak, we love being where we are and we have a bit of an expertise in destination branding.

So, when Royal Oak’s Downtown Development Authority (AKA, “the DDA”) reached out to see if we’d be interested in putting together a campaign to promote Downtown and its businesses – in other words, our neighborhood and our neighbors – we were on board faster than you can say “DDA.”

We did about a week of concepting and came back with a few ideas we really liked. When the dust had settled, we and our clients agreed to move forward with a campaign platform built around a simple two-word phrase:

“Royal Open.”

Now, there are two meanings tied up in that phrase.

The first being that, after months of lockdown and lost business, the shops and restaurants and other businesses of Downtown were opening up again. It was time for people to come back to Royal Oak. And we most definitely wanted to invite them.

The second was focused more on what makes Downtown Royal Oak the destination it is: A spirit of openness that’s long defined life in our neighborhood. Royal Oak is a place people go for new things, new tastes, new sounds, new sights, new ideas, new people. There’s an attitude of “live and let live” here – different people crossing paths along the streets and sidewalks of the square mile or so that makes up the Downtown.

It’s an important reason why we put our office here at the corner of Third and Center. And it’s an important reason why we’re still here these seven years later.

When it came to making the ads, we had an idea for something streamlined, simple and up-to-the-moment. For TV, rather than shoot video, we wanted to try our hand at doing something relying solely on still photography. We wanted a more documentary feeling to the visuals and using stills gave us tremendous flexibility to go just about anywhere, anytime that first week of July to capture life as it was being lived in Downtown Royal Oak during this unusual summer.

People being generally good and helpful, most of the folks we met – business owners, employees, customers, people on the street – were gracious about our shoving cameras into their lives and signed model releases so we could use those photos. Yes, a few were jerks, but by our count, the non-jerks outnumbered the jerks by at least 20 to one.

Thanks so much to the team who made all this possible:

Izabela Skonieczka, Shana Preuett and our old friend Tom Parr (who drove back to Detroit from New Jersey to be part of this project) for shooting everything you’ll see in the TV, billboards, banner ads and social media posts.

Rob Johnston, Michelle McMahon and Lugene Bernard for wrangling those signatures for the model releases.

The rest of the Factory team – Jason Barthlow, Tiffany Vedua and John Bergholz – for lending a hand where and when needed. Everybody did something on this project.

Charlene Dwyer for editing the TV together. The folks at Ron Rose Milagro for work on audio and post (hello Russ Fitzpatrick and Christiaan Meyer). Stephanie Chung and the team at iGroup for exactly the voice we were looking for on the TV and radio. Our friends at Yessian Music for a truly nifty soundtrack – they always deliver something great. And Jeff Sant for the logo animation.

Also, the folks at the Royal Oak DDA and Downtown Manager Sean Kammer for asking us to work with them again.

And, of course, everyone who was gracious enough to lend their hand, face, business and/or time so we could turn the idea into actual advertising. The spirit of community and resilience here is inspiring.