The San Francisco agency Heat wanted to attract new talent for some openings in its creative department, but it didn't want to slog through the typical resumes and portfolios. Instead, the agency used founder and ecd Steve Stone's newly bottled pinot noir to find the brightest talent.
Three and a half years ago Stone planted 451 pinot noir vines in the Carneros region of Sonoma. After investing his own time planting, weeding and pruning the grapes, designing a label for the bottle and applying those labels by hand, Stone decided to give young creatives a chance to create print ads for his Pinot Noir, 7.
"I wanted to brag about the design, but not in a douchey way," Stone told Adweek. "I thought, let's use this, let's get a little bit of press on the design, but also let's try to use it as a tool and in an interesting and surprising way to attract some talent."
In early September, Stone released a brief calling for a print ad for his freshly bottled wine. Not only would the winner get to see his or her work come to life, but Stone also offered seven bottles of 7 Pinot Noir and an interview for a job at Heat. By asking people to create a classic print ad, Stone and his team knew they would get a chance to see a potential candidate's real writing and design talent.
The competition drew 101 entries from across the country, with entrants ranging from recent college graduates to experienced creatives. The contest even piqued the interest of Stone's longtime friend Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Goodby Silverstein & Partners. (Co-chairman Rich Silverstein reportedly submitted an entry as well).
With a role of tamper resistant tape sitting on his desk from another project and a strategy of "getting it done really quickly," Goodby covered the bottle in tape and wrote the above copy. To Goodby's dismay, his submission landed in eighth place; he sent a letter to Stone playfully insisting the judging process was flawed.
According to Stone, Goodby made a verbal agreement to accept the junior copywriter role with Heat. Stone said he plans to keep the stunt up and give Goodby an assignment.
"[Stone] said he would give me a job as a junior copywriter, but I made him promise that he wouldn't make me work on any really hard accounts," Goodby told Adweek.
Stone said he was the only person who knew which entry Goodby had submitted when the agency's creative directors gathered to select three finalists. Each judge received three stickers, and the three ads with the most stickers made the final cut. At this stage, Heat has not named the three finalists in order to protect their anonymity. The agency will interview those candidates in the coming weeks and plan to offer a job to the winner before Thanksgiving. Take a look at the finalists' work below.
"On a Scale," from an art director from Boulder, Colo.:
"On the 7th Day," by a designer from San Francisco, Calif.:
"Drinking Wine Is Like," by a writer from Atlanta and an art director from Dallas: