With 2020 and Vermilion’s 40th year in business in the rearview mirror, I find myself more reflective than usual. Most of us would agree it’s been a year like no other. Most of us would also agree that’s the understatement of 2020. I also hope most of us would agree that we tapped into resilience and strength that’s here to stay.
Between the barrage of election advertising, pandemic misinformation, climate denialism, protests and civil unrest, economic anxiety, and food scarcity, some of the biggest questions of our time seemed to be prompted all at once.
People often ask what I really want for our creative agency. And invariably I say “I want Vermilion to help answer the big questions of the day.”
This remains true, but its articulation has evolved over the years. In the early days, there was an innocence about marketing. We could promote ski clothing (Spyder in this case) without worrying about the lifecycle of their innovative fabrics. We could promote whole bean coffee (Allegro in this case) proud to support local farmers but not fret about how agriculture was affecting our planet.
That innocence is gone. Today, those of us in marketing knowingly make daily choices about who we work with and the causes we promote. Not just for our own good conscience, but for the betterment of all.
A Look Back
Vermilion is lucky to have built our creative agency in Boulder, Colorado—in the heart of the progressive Front Range—where we could unhesitatingly proclaim “We Grow the Good.” For Vermilion’s 40th year, we evolved that to “Let’s Grow the Good” to acknowledge that, now more than ever, the big questions of our day can’t be solved alone.
We’re humbled to promote products for happier and healthier lifestyles, policies that enhance women’s and LGBTQ rights, education solutions that empower the whole person, organizations helping to address substance misuse and mental health, and decisions that combat climate change and shift behaviors for the greater good.
A Look Ahead
But is that enough? Is our profession—like the banks that fund the fossil fuel industry, and the lawyers who defend toxic clients—culpable for some of the mess we find ourselves in? Are the tools of our trade up to our standards? And are we applying our skills and talents to “help answer the big questions of the day?”
At Vermilion, we are in constant pursuit of creating better answers to those questions—most of which may go unsolved but need to be addressed none-the-less. We continually strive to answer those big questions, and I’m proud to say that we’ve made it forty years and can still work toward that greater mission.
But more than that, I’m grateful for the wonderful Vermilion team members and clients—present and past—who have helped shape our culture and our work. This year has already tested our resolve, but our resilience and strength answered swiftly. Here’s to tackling the big questions in 2021 together.