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Setting the Table for Community & Connectivity With Modern Clients


Here it is. Thanksgiving. That time of year we all gather to expand our tables, share our values, and foster connection with acquaintances both known and new. But why do we limit the goodness and power of collectivity to just one day? Why don’t we leverage community to move us forward year-round?

We couldn’t find a reason, so that’s exactly what we did.

Earlier this year, we put this gratifying ritual into action for our urban farming client, Freight Farms. At a time where (like many brands) they had to put a pause on marketing spend, we concepted, created, and hosted a landmark event with them. Only this time, the guest list was made up of a diverse array of A&G clients – each representing a distinct perspective and industry, spanning healthcare, STEM, and even hospitality. Our objective was to harness the power of our forward-thinking clients and their shared commitment to community, diversity, and innovation that persistently shows up in our briefs. Additionally, we wanted to demonstrate how – in partnership with this Boston-born brand – we can help solve some of our most complex societal challenges together.

Gathering Hearts & Minds

The goal for this gathering was twofold:

To introduce the Freight Farms brand to influential decision makers and give it a platform to demonstrate the incredible value that urban farming technology offers to communities of all sizes. For example:

  1. The Freight Farms Greenery product can grow an astounding 2.5 acres of farm-fresh produce in a 40 x 8 foot container and deliver an annual harvest of 2-6 tons.
    1. Freight Farms’ hydroponic technology uses 99% less water than traditional agriculture.
    2. It also allows people to grow global ingredients 365 days a year, just steps outside their kitchen – no matter where that kitchen might be.The technology provides an environment for inner city children to learn about – and even help grow – healthy foods.
  2. To help our attending clients see how ripe the opportunities were for strategic partnerships, and to be part of a story where collective action locally can shape real impact globally. Boston has always been a bastion of innovation and progress, and we know our clients are no exception to the rule.

Once the idea was solidified, we defined all the essential ingredients to making the occasion appealing to our broad roster of clients. Here’s how we did it:

  • 1. We agreed that we had to transcend our agency walls and host the event at the Freight Farms space, so guests could benefit from the experience of actually entering these farms, tasting the exceptional produce, and hearing from the farmers directly.
  • 2. We created invitations that spoke to each of our client’s verticals and values with a very specific CTA: “Join us at The Seeds of Change Summit.
  • 3. We set the date for a late afternoon in August, so people could get out and enjoy the dwindling summer daylight.
  • 4. We enlisted the help of a celebrity chef – Chef AsiaMae owner of Moonshine 152 – to craft delicious food from Freight Farms ingredients and share her personal story.
  • 5. We wrapped the event with a heartwarming account of how Freight Farms is positively impacting communities and the lives of children at Boys & Girls Club of Metro South from President & CEO Derek Heim.

If I could sum up the evening in one word, it would easily be gratitude.

Gratitude for this brand partner (and its innovative technology) that could quite literally change our world.

Gratitude for clients like Meet Boston hoteliers and chefs from the Omni and Yotel, as well as representatives from the Museum of Science, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Eastern Bank, One Medical, and Boston Chamber who came ready to imagine the possibilities.

Gratitude for our team, who conceived of and pulled off this event with no active job number — just a lot of heart and hustle to make it happen.

Gratitude for the conversation, connections, and seeds that were planted.

When I think back on it, this event was A&G at its very best: seizing an opportunity to put our collective power to work for everything we believe in.

Cultivating Shared Beliefs & Ideas

The idea for this Freight Farms event was a natural blending of two core principles that A&G lives by – and ones that have always driven me as a compassionate creative leader:

  • 1. Community can create enormous impact.
  • 2. “Brand” is not what you say; it’s what you DO.

Belief #1: Community can create enormous impact.

We believe that community – and, more specifically, the creativity and exchange of ideas that comes from building community – has the power to truly change our world. We believe in the value of collaboration and the magic that happens when different minds come together on common ground to shape solutions. In fact, it’s been the driving mantra behind the A&G “Third Space”, which we introduced earlier this year.

The event with Freight Farms allowed us to bring this core belief to life. It was incredibly moving to see professionals from various sectors – tech, healthcare, finance, and more – converging in one space, eager to share insights and experiences.

The synergy at the event was palpable. Conversations sparked between professionals from different walks of life helped ignite ideas and – more importantly – the possibilities of what could be. By bringing together individuals with different expertises and viewpoints, we’re fostering a culture of shared knowledge and fresh inspiration.

At the Freight Farms event, I got a first-hand look at how a local business is driving climate-resilient innovation in agriculture and inspiring a new generation of farmers, non-profits, and small business owners to bring fresh produce directly into neighborhoods, restaurants, and schools. It was through this event that the Museum of Science is now partnering with Freight Farms for its 2024 ‘Year of the Earthshot,’ a yearlong exploration of our climate crisis and the solutions that will help us live sustainably on Earth.

~ Meg Rosenburg, Manager of Operations, Centers for Public Science Learning, at the Museum of Science, Boston

Belief #2: “Brand” is not what you say; it’s what you DO.

As an advertising agency, we believe in the power of words. But, we also hold firm to the idea that the strongest, most successful brands back up their words with actions. We firmly believe that in today’s day and age, modern brands have an obligation to do better, be better, and show up in ways that make our lives and our world better.

Again, this event gave us the opportunity to not only celebrate an organization that embodies this belief, but also to connect them with other like-minded organizations who share similar goals and values. These are companies whose actions help shine a light on the communities they serve; who demonstrate strong commitment to diversity; who create access to STEM initiatives for those who have historically been left out of those industries; and who are dedicated to finding innovative solutions like horticultural therapy to combat mental health issues plaguing our youth and our societies at large.

Our commitment to facilitating connections isn’t just about creating opportunities for networking; it’s about sparking real transformation. By breaking down our self-inflicted firewalls, we’re offering a platform for our clients to tackle challenges from all angles. This more collaborative approach to problem-solving injects new life into traditional solutions and helps pave the way for more meaningful and measurable change.

The spirit that fuels our agency mirrors the evolving business landscape: interconnected, dynamic, and limitless in our potential. And – in an era where many are reimagining the future of the workplace and the workforce — reimagining the future of the client relationship through the power of us feels particularly needed.

& Creating Behavior

Looking forward, our unique approach isn’t just a strategy: it’s woven into the fabric of our agency’s identity as an independent and collaborative spirit. (The fact that we have teams based in Boston and Philadelphia is no accident.) Our clients aren’t just cells on a spreadsheet: they’re integral threads to a tapestry of innovation, mutual learning, and transformation waiting to happen. The event with Freight Farms wasn’t just a celebration: it was a reaffirmation of our commitment to collaboration, growth, and leading by example.

This is what we bring to the table everyday. And for that, I am so very grateful.

About the Author
Jennifer Putnam is the CCO of Allen & Gerritsen. She has always been deeply passionate about using her creative powers for good & for advancing our industry in positive ways.