Weather + Team Morale: An Interview with Brand Ambassador Sonia Nizny by Jessica Hodges
It’s spring, and the height of the outdoor promotional season is about to get underway. With outdoor guerilla and event marketing, it takes people to reach people.
It’s undeniable that face to face interaction is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. That’s where Sonia comes in. A New York City resident and a top-notch professional brand ambassador, Sonia Nizny is prepping to kick off her spring season with her endless lists of agency contacts. Sonia has taken part in promoting brands, such as Becks Sapphire, Nike, Benefit cosmetics, Aquafina and Pepsi, just to name a few. While sipping her morning coffee, she candidly discusses the challenges that the changing seasons bring for outdoor promotional marketing campaigns.
Sonia stressed to us what she believes are the most crucial elements to a successful outdoor campaign: team morale and preparation. Even the most brilliant campaign ideas can be thwarted if your team isn’t properly prepared to handle nature’s elements. Sonia has experienced it all, and was kind enough to share some of her weather-wild stories with us.
Sonia recalls, “I once worked an event for a beverage company at a Good Morning America concert series. It was January and the temperature was below freezing. The company did not specify in the project breakdown that the team would be outside for the entire day. Therefore, no one was properly dressed for the severe weather we had in store. It was so cold that when we brought the beverage samples outside for distribution, the product froze within a half an hour. In those conditions,” she adds, “we weren’t even provided gloves.”
Sonia also worked another event where it rained for the entire day. Despite the conditions, the team was told that they were forbidden to wear rain boots and had to wear canvas tennis shoes instead. “We weren’t provided with any way to shelter ourselves from the rain. No umbrellas or even rain ponchos. There were some hoodies, but not everyone got one.”
She vividly remembers the team’s negative sentiment, towards the weather and, most detrimentally, to the brand they were expected to promote. Sonia described how “no one was smiling because they were unhappy and uncomfortable. The staff would disappear for long amounts of time to avoid being in the rain.” Sonia inserted her professional opinion, explaining, “if I knew that we were running a promotion that was burdened with a high chance of showers, I would have prepared my ambassadors for that situation by providing them with proper outfitting, like ponchos and umbrellas, and allowed the team to wear rain boots.” The distaste in Sonia’s voice when recalling such rain-soaked experiences is evidence enough that there’s nothing more deadly to a marketing campaign than a crew of unhappy brand ambassadors.
But then there’s the other side to the spectrum. When I asked Sonia to dish on a positive weather-faring memory, she immediately responded, “Benefit!” Her positive effervescence bubbled through the speaker phone, as she recalled her New York Fashion Week experience working for Benefit Cosmetics as a roller skating Benebabe. This event was very difficult and required a lot of cooperation from the brand ambassadors. Sonia described the rigorous flash mob rehearsal schedules and detailed outfitting that was required of the brand ambassadors. Benefit gave their Benebabe staff a full outfit, which included beautifully branded leotards, stockings, footwear, roller skates and even undergarments. The Benefit brand was aware that there was a high probability of their promotion being covered by the media and, thus, proactively put their best foot forward. The team was given frequent breaks and even had branded umbrellas and sunscreen on hand, just in case. She says, “They [the brand ambassadors] were attentive, well prepared and, most importantly, treated with respect. Sonia’s experience with Benefit was so wonderful, that she herself expresses her personal connection to the company, plainly stating, “I believe in their product.”
Outfitting brand ambassadors properly can make all the difference, not only in boosting team morale, but also leaving positive impressions on customers. If a customer looks at a team of brand ambassadors and can tell that they are being mistreated by whichever company it is that they’re representing, the whole promotion can basically be written off as a bust. Sonia believes that it’s about getting customers excited about the product and personally appreciative of the company- but in order to achieve this, the brand ambassadors have to be excited about the
When we asked Sonia to offer some words of wisdom for companies and agencies for the upcoming season, she offered some strong recommendations: “Do your research. Know where your campaign is going to be and if there are indoor alternatives, especially in the unfortunate advent of rain. Communicate candidly to your team as to what should be expected in terms of execution and weather arrangements. Don’t be lazy. Be responsible for your own outcome.” Sonia also believes it’s beneficial to suggest rain dates, if possible, but most of all, be prepared. Provide ponchos, have umbrellas, be outfitted correctly and expect the unexpected. Laziness shows both brand ambassadors & the public at large that the company doesn’t care or look out for its own people, which, ultimately, reflects poorly on that company. Sonia advises companies that are thinking about starting their own promotional marketing campaigns: “if you don’t make a fan out of the brand ambassador you hire, how do you expect the brand ambassador to make more fans for you? Your team will give you their best if the company does as well.”
Look out for Sonia at her next event in New York City’s Times Square for Chevorlet!