The brainstorming meeting is such a common device that it’s almost become a pop culture cliché. And yet sometimes lightning strikes. That appears to be the case for Haberman, the Minneapolis-based 41-employee agency, with its quirky tourism campaign for New Ulm.
“We let a bobblehead sit in our brainstorming meetings, and we kept going back to it, and Hermann the German became the centerpiece,” explained Nathan Rice, digital director at Haberman.
Rice’s passion for the project went beyond his role as digital director: He’s from the New Ulm area. “One of the key things here at Haberman is to match people with things they are passionate about,” says Brian Wachtler, president. “When people are advocates for their campaigns, great work will follow.”
A centerpiece indeed: A Hermann the German bobblehead is shot at various sites in New Ulm, a city known for the iconic Schell’s Brewery as well as other German-friendly venues. New Ulm hopes more visitors come—and stay overnight.
“They were very open that the [limited] dollars weren’t going to directly translate to heads on beds,” says Rice. “The goal is to create a light around New Ulm that will attract people.”
Perhaps a better way to frame it would be talking about the dark—or at least the nightlife. Rice said that New Ulm already attracts a lot of day-trippers, but the city is looking for couples, or even bachelorette parties, to spend the night.
Hermann looks like he’s in on the fun, thus the campaign’s theme, “Germans Have More Fun.” Hermann, like all bobbleheads, nods enthusiastically as he sips a beer and gets a ride on an accordion, among other activities.
“What the research pointed to is we have this fun town and fun heritage,” Rice explained. “It has a lot of intricate history, but we needed to take New Ulm from being perceived as ‘old German’—we needed to show how much fun it can be.”
New media is exclusively employed: Internet videos air on a brand-new microsite Haberman created. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest help spread the videos virally.