L.L.Bean – Be an Outsider at Work

Giving New Meaning to Being Out of the Office

Agency: Jack Morton, Weber Shandwick

After more than 106 years in business, L.L.Bean was widely known as a fall and winter brand, represented in consumers’ minds by the boots and flannel on the pages of its iconic catalogues.

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The brand set out to become known for sharing the joy of the outdoors year-round, not just in the cold winter season. As summer approached, L.L.Bean needed to earn its way into the media and consumer conversation, without meaningfully positive brand news on the horizon. 

Research showed that L.L.Bean’s core outdoor enthusiast target wasn’t as “outdoorsy” as you’d think. They spend 95% of their lives indoors, and 50% of that was at stationary desk jobs. In fact, their jobs were the #1 barrier holding them back from spending time outside. 

Yet studies show that working outdoors actually makes us better employees. We’re 50% more productive, 3X as creative, and 92% of people are happier when they work outside. 

“Be an Outsider at Work”– was ready to give “out of office” new meaning by helping people bring the outdoors into their workday.

We built the first-ever outdoor co-working space. 

A perfect manifestation of L.L.Bean’s belief in the power of the shared joy of the outdoors, the co-working spaces were complete with free Wi-Fi, power hookups and fresh air, capturing the imagination and calendars of our previously desk-bound consumers and press. 

To ensure the space was as functional as it was visionary, we partnered with collaborative workspace brand Industrious to power a free online reservation system, productivity-perfect office finishes and friendly on-site workplace community managers. We first opened the “doors” to key media, inviting them to work outside for the day, hosting radio and TV remote segments, a 27-interview satellite media tour, and local influencer partnerships.

White paper: L.L.Bean bucked category norms and expectations by co-authoring a white paper with pre-eminent workplace strategist and bestselling author of “The Healthy Workplace,” Leigh Stringer. The “Be an Outsider at Work Handbook” was distributed through native advertising optimized to downloads on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and seeded with the press. 

Infographic: An infographic that documented key statistics from our research offered simple reminders of how to get outside during the workday, and was perfectly post-able in office cubicles! It made a stellar email marketing asset and was widely cited by the press and bloggers. 

Digital video tips: A series of social-first video tips made our big idea ultra-doable and ultra-shareable via Instagram and Facebook. Each one cited a compelling statistic (e.g. 50% increase in performance after 4 days working outside) followed by a simple tip.

NowThis native video: Popular digital publisher NowThis, known for its ability to propel cultural ideas with social-first provocative pieces, released two videos documenting L.L.Bean’s outdoor co-working space and research results. This led to through-the-roof social sharing and vibrant public comment threads among co-workers about putting L.L.Bean’s ideas into action in their offices.  

A flood of earned coverage helped reframe the way people viewed both the brand and the way they work. Kicking off with a front page feature in USA Today, Be an Outsider at Work landed in 478 local and national outlets (including CBS, NBC, Fox, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. and The Boston Globe). Key message pull-through was 100%, with 83% carrying two or more messages. 

Consumer engagement: 44% Social Engagement Rate (440% of industry average) Thanks to over 3,972,000 campaign video views and 86,528 social engagements, L.L.Bean was at the center of conversation. 

Behavior change: 73% increase in L.L.Bean branded search queries the week of launch and 95% likelihood to work outside in the future.

People loved the idea of working outside, sending organic search for the L.L.Bean brand through the roof, and 91% rated their experience working outdoors as a positive reflection on the L.L.Bean brand.