An UNparalleled Experience: the Flint Group Creative Retreat

by ,

Earlier this month, more than thirty Flint Group creatives convened at Lost Lake Lodge near Brainerd, Minnesota. The objective? To share ideas and learn from each other face to face at the Flint Group Creative Retreat. Designers and writers from across the organization spent (roughly) two days and two nights focusing on the future, improving creativity and expanding collaboration.

Things got rolling on Thursday, September 17th with an icebreaker led by SimmonsFlint designer Ann Simmons-Boushey, followed by a wonderful dinner at Lost Lake Lodge and a show and tell of creative work from each agency.

Retreat Begins

Later that night, we had some fun around the bonfire.


The next morning, our group put social media strategy to work. Writer, Lee Ziegler, and Flint Interactive designer, Alissa Pesta, led the workshop, assigning real marketing problems to small groups. Using Jason Baer’s Social Media Worksheet, the Flint Group creatives addressed the problems with strategies and ideas to create awareness, generate sales or encourage loyalty online.

Social Media Strategy

That afternoon, it was time for our own unConference. Flint Communications art director, Frank Stegmaier, and writer, Phil Hunt, attended an unConference presented by One Club and the Society of Digital Agencies this spring. The experience and discussion was so valuable that we decided to conduct a smaller-scale unConference of our own.

There is no pre-determined agenda for an unConference. At the start of the event, we got together and proposed topics related to our industry and agency. After setting a a loose schedule, we talked and talked some more – documenting key points and outcomes along the way.

Some of the topics addressed included:

•    The Future of Flint Group
•    The Future of Print
•    Surviving the Economy and the New Era of Advertising
•    The Business of Design
•    Ethics in the Creative Field
•    Unconventional Printing and Advertising
•    Social Media
•    Video for the Web
•    How Production Design will Change in the Future
•    Interoffice Collaboration
•    Finding Inspiration
•    Presenting Concepts and Ideas
•    Using Creativity to Make the Creative Brief Go Further

The unConference was a big success – and we recommend it to any organization that wants to discuss big, challenging ideas. For more information on the unConference format, check out the unConference Wikipedia entry, or Open Space World.

At night we wound down with another great meal, a butter sculpture contest, plus a bonfire and an outdoor screening of the 2009 Addy Reel. On Saturday, we finished up with some brainstorming techniques from copywriter Phil Hunt, and said our goodbyes.

Friday Night Butter Sculpting Contest

It was a fun weekend, and a productive one, too. We came back on Monday with fresh perspectives and solid ideas for the future of our clients and our agency. Stay tuned for more thoughts and outcomes from the retreat.

Phil Hunt

About Phil Hunt

Phil Hunt is a Flint Group copywriter in Fargo. He got his start in advertising during study hall, at about twelve or thirteen, when he wrote and drew ads for a fictional skateboard company called Atomic Age. He likes weird music and taking many pictures of his kids at the playground.

  • Jason Baer

    LOVE that you guys did an unconference. Very cool. I always find them freeing and useful. I’m thrilled that you used my social media strategy worksheets. I hope they helped. Looking forward to seeing you again soon.

  • Phil Hunt

    Thanks, Jason. I’m really sold on the unConference. It really seems to draw people in and bring good ideas to light. The social media worksheet was a great tool. It forces you to take care of the groundwork. And the exciting tactics came easy after that.

    We’ve got some summaries of the social media strategies we shared at the retreat. We’ll try to post them soon — so you and others can take a look.