STRATEGY & DIGITAL
Nest: a home for meaningful sharing.
Arveron, a real estate developer, needed 360° branding and a launch campaign for their apartment project in Eaux-Vives, destined to become an eco-friendly, intergenerational housing cooperative with a clear social mandate.
Arveron, la Fédération des Eaux-Vives, Geneva City
Ethnographic study / strategic planning / cultural branding / two 30-sec spots (art direction, creative, shooting, post-prod) / digital strategy / website development / launch event
I led a team of 5 for this project acting as the Lead Strategist and Project Manager. Our final pitch, which portrayed co-living as the next step in the journey to "be present," beat out two other agencies and received industry recognition from strategists at Hermès, We are Social, and MUZ agency.
The project was chaperoned by the city of Geneva and by 3 co-housing cooperatives who would allocate the apartments once constructed—"Etrier" (students and young professionals), "Insula" (families) and "Génération Logements" (elderly)—united under the name "la Fédération des Eaux-Vives (FEV)."
Housing cooperatives are popular in Geneva. While their apartments tend to be smaller and require sharing facilities (like kitchens and laundry), they offer, in exchange for small capital investment (10-20K), discounted lifetime rents and the security of knowing a renter can never be kicked out. Waitlists to join are long (5-10yrs).
New construction projects tend to attract the usual-suspect applicants—people already on the waiting list of one co-op who hope to advance faster on another. When the right applicants are selected as tenants, co-ops can become true utopias. When not, strangers are squashed together driven by discounts and failure is inevitable.
The City of Geneva would like to have more successful, resource-efficient co-ops, but not all citizens are convinced that communal living is for them. Geneva City usually allocates heavily-discounted land parcels for new construction to those co-op administrations with the highest success rates.
Arveron, the property developer, saw an opportunity to break into this discounted construction market by aligning forces with a consortium of co-ops and proposing an intergenerational project that, in addition to being green, would help solve the issue of ageing Genevans' isolation.
To be a success, this first project had to (1) attract a new segment of the population to apply to the co-op beyond the usual suspects; (2) select the right candidates to achieve real, visible, intergenerational bonding between residents; and (3) become a "hot" address in Geneva. Arveron believed the right branding could do this.
Not only did this project have three separate account-holders with differing objectives (the City, Arveron and the co-op Federation), but before ground was even broken, there were already hundreds of would-be applicants due to the mere word-of-mouth surrounding co-ops. Any PR had to go hand-in-hand with a strong internal triage system or the selection process would simply become impossible. A much deeper, existential question also persisted: how can one truly guarantee the success of a human living experiment? Can branding even do that?
Several months of ethnographic study and insight-hunting went into answering the latter question before the branding conversation began. We researched hundreds of communal living experiments over history and came up with criteria for the ideal tenants.
Eventually, the branding brief was narrowed down to (1) attracting the "right" type of rental applicants: i.e. those genuinely interested in actively participating in a community, not just after cheap rent; (2) appealing to three different age groups; (3) humorously challenging misconceptions about communal living; and (4) humanizing a structure that would have an austere, cement-block exterior when constructed.
A birds-eye, Holtian-style cultural branding approach was decided to be the best way to rise to these challenges. It centered around society's dual crises of authenticity and of loneliness which are, essentially, felt by all age groups.
In the first campaign, we tapped into the conflict that exists between the mass-ideology of thousands of Instagram followers and the newer, meta-cultural view that one should actually quest for #realness, authenticity, and #beingpresent.
We identified local Genevan subcultures dedicated to "real sharing" (urban gardeners, body positivists, lake-cleaning volunteers). We appealed to them to apply for the co-op with a sticky message about the "Evolution of Sharing," in which "Nest" (as we'd named the building) was home to the type of meaningful sharing they craved.
Our bet was that this message would not only resonate with them but also beyond, speaking to that little voice inside everyday Genevans who were increasingly tired of superficial connections even if they hadn't dedicated their weekends to enlightening activities. As per Douglas Holt's theory, our plan was to leverage the participation of the few subcultural influencers (aka the "law of the few") to prove the co-op's cultural relevance ("wokeness"), thus positioning the building to become a local cultural icon.
In a second, lighter-hearted campaign, we poked fun at misconceptions about communal-living by comparing items and situations "better left unshared," or "better shared" (mood board pictured on this page).