Q&A With Shinola Watches About Its Say Nice Things Ad Campaign

Shinola watches recently debuted a clever series of in-house-made ads that got my attention for their gracious tone. In a nod to the efforts of 1970s Detroit businesswoman Emily Gail, the Detroit-based watch brand unveiled its Say Nice Things (#saynicethings) campaign to inspire a positive course of online chatter. Bridget Russo, Shinola’s chief marketing director, offers JCK insight into the ads and explains why you don’t see any watches.

Imagery from Shinola watches' #saynicethings campaign

Image from Shinola’s #saynicethings campaign

JCK: What is the significance of the recent #saynicethings campaign? 

Bridget Russo: Shinola launched #saynicethings as part of a Valentine’s Day promotion last year in an effort to spread positivity across various social media platforms. It has been an ongoing campaign since then. Often, folks take to the Internet with unkind words. We would like to shift that paradigm and encourage people to say nice things, and those good intentions will hopefully generate further positive sentiments. To expand on that campaign this year we launched #lovemycity, and we asked consumers, local influencers, and bloggers to post the people, places, and things they love most about their city. 

JCK: What is the inspiration behind it? 

Russo: Say Nice Things About Detroit was a campaign originally created in the ’70s by Emily Gail, who was a small business owner in downtown Detroit. The city was going through a really challenging time economically and in an effort to inspire her hometown, Gail decided to take action to encourage people to spread positive sentiments. 

JCK: Why aren’t there any watches featured in the campaign?

Russo: We really wanted to focus on the message, and that’s spreading positivity not only in Detroit but across the globe. Some of the #lovemycity posts do, however, include product if the person chooses to do so. 

JCK: Where can we see the #saynicethings—besides on social media?

Russo: In conjunction with the digital campaign in 2014, our flagship stores in Detroit and New York City encouraged customers to write positive messages on seed paper to display in the store. We transformed a Detroit dog park in support of the Green Alley Project as a way to show that planting nice things begets nice things and contributes to the beautification of Detroit. We also commissioned artist Jeff Young to hand paint the #saynicethings billboard in Detroit—in fact, there’s a great video of it here. Primarily though, #saynicethings and #lovemycity are both social campaigns.

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