When storage company MakeSpace had a last minute opportunity to buy media during Thursday’s presidential debate, it knew it needed to do something special.
So rather than run a spot from its archives, MakeSpace’s marketing team decided to lean into the election narrative by envisioning a world where its services are needed to facilitate a transition at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The idea, floated as a joke in a team brainstorming session, was quickly endorsed by leadership.
“We’re talking about a potential major transition and noticed the White House is in fact in our service area,” said MakeSpace VP of brand Matt O’Dowd. “The thought of having a president use MakeSpace was too funny to pass up.”
The company doesn’t have political affiliations, but the brand does tend to lean heavily into humor. A previous campaign played on the Marie Kondo fad by showing people burning their excess belongings before a MakeSpace truck showed up to save the day. Another campaign included a series of spoof horror films about weird things that can go down in a storage unit.
Still, in these heavily politicized times, MakeSpace had to think critically about joining in on the election conversation. So the brand took inventory of how many customers would be annoyed or delighted by the ad, O’Dowd said.
“People who are less in favor of the current administration universally adored it, and the people who support the president were like, ‘Well, we can see the humor in that,’” he explained.
While some brands try to insert themselves into cultural conversations inappropriately, the concept of moving and storage in the context of an election makes sense.
“We try to do things that are topical and true,” O’Dowd said. “It makes sense to imagine a world where MakeSpace is involved in helping the outgoing administration.”
The brand worked with agency Quirk Creative to pull together the spot in just three days -- record time for the brand. To get it done fast, the spot was shot in one round with no revisions.
The spot aired during the debate last night on CNN, NBC and CBS, as well as on political OTT channels. COVID-19 has been a crucial period for MakeSpace to get the word out about its services as people move out of big cities and seek temporary storage during the pandemic, O’Dowd said.
President Donald Trump has been known to endorse or vilify brands that take a public stance on his administration. When asked about whether MakeSpace was prepared for potential blowback from the White House, O’Dowd said, “In some ways, I wish he did notice. We’d be happy to have his business.”