Pro Bono Work Keeps Us Engaged and Passionate.
Being a creative in the advertising industry can sometimes feel like our careers amount to only making cup holders look sexy and ushering canned goods into people’s lives.
At no time in art school did I think it was akin to the Peace Corps. We knowingly enter an industry where bringing more revenue to multi-million dollar corporations can sometimes mean draining the soul. The opportunity to create real change in the world doesn’t generally come from the ability to properly kern type and turn a phrase. Plus, the life of an art director doesn’t exactly provide many hours for volunteering. It’s through contributing our talents to pro bono projects that many of us have found something meaningful.
For young creatives, the allure of pro bono work is often the prospect of winning awards. The chance to create pro bono ads is like playing the protagonist in a period piece during Oscar season. Admittedly, my first One Show was a pro bono account for a subject that was a creative softball. Most pro bono clients are more amenable to good creative work. That’s because the gratitude for your contribution of time and talent makes them more prone to trust your expertise when there’s nothing at stake. For those of us who have spent more years in advertising, the motivation for pro bono assignments changes from award fodder to altruism. Our experience has given us more knowledge of how advertising can change perception and influence opinions, and using this knowledge to help worthy organizations is the best award of all.
BOL is an agency that not only encourages pro bono opportunities but views them as a life-affirming necessity that keeps the team engaged and passionate. When you're already facing weeks of 50+ billable hours and you’re approached with a pro bono project, the idea of another item on your plate can feel daunting, but when that project is like San Diego Code School, you’re motivated to put all your time and effort into growing their business. Here are a few community projects BOL is proud to have worked on:
San Diego Coding School: Helping Create Diversity in the World of Coding
San Diego Code School provides tech training for people in underserved communities through affordable courses and apprenticeship opportunities. The school is a path of entry into a field where Blacks, Hispanics, and women are underrepresented.
BOL honed in on the essence of the field, using coding symbols in the campaign as a reflection of their identity to change the perception of who we traditionally view as coders. This creative was used in LinkedIn ads that drove to a landing page directed at hiring managers to promote the advantages of using SDCS students.
The founder and CEO, Mike Roberts is passionate about what he does, and the BOL team shared the same enthusiasm for the San Diego Code School mission throughout the project. Working with him and his committed team to create opportunities for diverse talent to gain a strong foothold in the tech industry was inspirational.
San Diego High School: Fostering Real-Life Skills for High School Students
The Academy of Finance and Entrepreneurship at San Diego High School gives students an opportunity to build their professional skills and develop an entrepreneurial mindset, ensuring that students are both college and career-ready when they graduate high school. BOL partnered with the academy to drive awareness of their programs - while also involving students in every part of the process.
BOL provided the Academy with a variety of digital advertising services, from rebranding to video production, as well as the creation of social channels for students to take ownership of and manage themselves. The partnership allowed BOL to work with teachers, who helped guide us in the right direction, and students who joined marketing calls, participated in creating advertising “personas,” and asked questions. This process allowed them to get a feel for what “real world” marketing meetings are like. The new website also equipped them with the ability to track metrics for the first time ever.
For the BOL team, it was a welcome change of pace from usual client work, especially because of the relationships that were established with students. “Getting to share our digital marketing expertise with Academy students who were so excited to learn has been an inspiring experience.”
Quality Touch Cleaning Systems: A Relationship Built to Last
Offering commercial cleaning and janitorial services for medical offices, gyms, law firms and more, Quality Touch Cleaning Systems had clientele, but no web presence or marketing. Founder Timothy Jackson started his company through the Defy Ventures program which proves entrepreneurship, employment and personal development training programs to formerly incarcerated individuals.
BOL put together a team and set out to build a website and create an effective advertising campaign that would generate new leads. Since Quality Touch Cleaning Systems specifically focuses on local clients in the San Diego County area, keeping the balance between targeting the right keywords without being too niche was an important strategy.
BOL worked closely with Timothy to ensure the messaging and language of his new website authentically reflected his personality and the mission of his business. When it launched, BOL aided the execution of a 3-month paid search program which generated 16 conversions of form fills and phone calls. His site currently receives about 35% of its traffic from organic search thanks to optimization efforts provided by the team.
The BOL team and Timothy have kept in touch, reconnecting a couple of times a year to catch up on progress and provide support. In fact, in 2020, the team worked on a site refresh related to the COVID-19 pandemic to show how Quality Touch Cleaning Systems was tackling the virus as interest in cleaning services surged.
BOL’s relationships with Quality Touch, San Diego High School Academy of Finance and Entrepreneurship, and San Diego Code School have been a way for the agency to share expertise with members of the community while giving us all an opportunity to remember what we love about our work: to grow businesses that improve lives.
It would serve us all well to remember the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, “do well so that you can do good.”