You never know what you’ll run into walking around the streets of New York. Sometimes you run headlong into marketing brilliance. In this case, I ran headlong into a very unique spokesperson standing in front of an AT&T store. He didn’t say a single word, but he was more effective than any of the tour-bus promoters and sandwich-board-wearing street hustlers roaming the same sidewalks.
It’s obvious that one or more AT&T store employees decided to have some fun in the snow and make the best of what would otherwise be a week full of pedestrians with their heads down and their eyes focused on the ground. It was a brilliant idea! This “seasonal employee” barely costs the company anything, but he did a great job of getting attention and making people stop right in front of the store. While I was there, I watched at least 3 people stop and pose for photos with him.
As great as this is, you can’t plan for it (at least, not the first time). I'm sure there is no section on “Snowmen” in the AT&T marketing plan or brand style guide. This kind of magic only happens when an aggregation of circumstances creates a spark of inspiration in someone who is down at ground level.
What you CAN do is encourage creative thinking and create a company culture that allows people to experiment. Give them some clear boundaries and let them know that they are safe to play around within those boundaries. When someone strikes gold (or snow, in this case), share that with the rest of the organization and give them some recognition.
In the end, you can’t plan spontaneity, but you can plan an environment in which it can blossom.