isplack Activation: How a Company Gives First

“Give first.”

Those words bring to mind one person doing someone else a favor, without the promise of compensation. Of course, we all hope that our acts of kindness will circle back around in time. But when we operate with a genuine give first mindset, we do so knowing that they very well may not. Tutoring a struggling peer, hosting a neighborhood block party, and offering to watch your friends’ kids while they have a date night are all examples of that philosophy in action.

For an individual, it’s pretty simple. But how does a brand or company give first?

One way is through an experience, created and disseminated at no cost. isplack—high performing eyeblack designed for both athletes and fans, and Black Lab Sports’ original startup—offers a great example of this “give the experience first” approach.

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isplack Paints the Town

Friday, April 7 marked Opening Day for the Colorado Rockies, and isplack geared up for the occasion: seven team members, baseball-style isplack shirts, and a few face paint sticks each (mostly Potent Purple for all the Rockies fans, but also a few True Blues for the odd Dodger devotee). Co-founder Olja Ivanic, leader of the street activation team, set the tone from the start with her palpable energy and quest to reach as many fans as possible, while co-conspirator (and co-founder) Aaron Beach handled the logistics, coordinated with venues, and kept the team on track. Their mission, according to Olja, was “to help people celebrate and unite with their team, and help them really remember the day.” To give first to the fans, in other words, through the gift of a priceless experience.

And so we painted, first each other and then every pedestrian in our path. On sidewalks and street corners, in bars and restaurants, and on top of Denver’s most bustling rooftops, we delivered experiences in the form of purple (and occasionally, blue) isplack: colorful swipes below the eyes of hundreds of pre-gaming fans. In doing so, we linked the fans to each other, as well as to the isplack-wearing athletes they came out to support.

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Following Olja’s lead, we carried a celebratory attitude wherever we went, sharing in the excitement of a new season and forging connections along the way. Among them were musicians, bartenders, peanut-sellers, DJs, college students, families, and even a spirited policeman. One of the neatest moments of the day was watching Olja swipe a giddy little boy’s face with purple isplack not ten feet from where I was drawing a long purple mustache above a senior citizen’s lips (entirely at his request). “We interacted with such a wide range of people,” Olja said, and “every single interaction was so fun and meaningful.”

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Final Thought

We didn’t sell a single stick of isplack on Opening Day. In fact, we gave several away, and also left the office virtually empty for the day. So why was it worth the effort?

We believe the momentum from the 1,000 experiences we created will come back in many ways. Had we set up a booth outside Coors Field, we probably could have sold 100 sticks. But by giving first and tapping into the emotions of so many fans, we created experiences, and with them, the potential to generate exponentially more sales down the road.

Stay tuned as we watch for the fruits of our Opening Day labor!