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VOL. 128 | NO. 202 | Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bigfish Bringing Community Bulletin Board to Overton Square

By Andy Meek

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To say that Memphis-based creative agency Bigfish doesn’t follow a traditional agency playbook would be an understatement.

Memphis-based creative agency Bigfish is putting up a wall at Overton Square that will include inspirational notes. The public is invited to leave health- and wellness-focused notes.

(Bigfish)

To use one example, the group of creative professionals housed in Midtown’s Minglewood Hall – Bigfish president Tim Nicholson refers to them all as his “teammates” – is preparing to erect a wall at Overton Square.

The purpose of putting up the wall, which Bigfish is calling its “I wish you well wall,” is so the company can encourage the public all day on Oct. 23 to leave a health and wellness-focused note for someone else or just to jot down thoughts, prayers and other random insights and post them.

It will function as a kind of community bulletin board, except this one won’t be advertising events – it won’t be advertising at all, as a matter of fact. The goal, Nicholson explained, is for everyone to present snippets of thoughts and information that might be relevant to someone’s wellbeing.

“Our whole thing is, try to live what you believe and go do what you believe and don’t be in people’s face,” Nicholson said. “Just invite people in, and something good can happen.”

The title for the temporary wall project is a nod of the hat to Bill Withers, one of Nicholson’s favorite singers. One of Withers’ tunes is called “I wish you well.”

The spirit behind the project is the same thing that animates the rest of Nicholson’s firm, which has a specially tailored focus on certain kinds of clients and which relies heavily on social media.

Via YouTube, for example, Bigfish spreads quick-hit videos featuring short, philosophical aphorisms from Nicholson often tied to pop culture. Via Twitter, the company and Nicholson push out similarly short bursts of non-specific insight that convey some aspect of the values the firm believes in, most often something related to community and wellness.

The firm also goes out of its way to look for unique events and project opportunities that help it stand out and present its image to the city. Recently, the late night talk show “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” set a world record for the largest toothbrush circle, with the unusual event spurring Bigfish to do the same.

Bigfish took that idea and decided to host a citywide toothbrush circle – a circle of people brushing the teeth of someone beside them – this summer in Cooper-Young.

For the past year, the agency has implemented a branding initiative it’s called “The Year of You,” putting an emphasis on the things that its clients and the community at large are doing. That message led to a desire to focus on a few key areas of the business: not-for-profits, health care and membership organizations such as fraternities, sororities and alumni associations.

The Overton Square wall project was inspired by a trip Nicholson took with his wife to San Francisco, where he visited the City Lights bookstore. The shop has a corkboard covered in post-it notes on which people have written answers to a question: “What book scared you the most as a kid?”

Impressed by the sense of community it engendered and the visitor interaction it sparked, Nicholson wanted to do a version of that here.

“We’re not going anywhere with some forms saying now that you know who we are, sign up and let us make something for you,” he said. “But we would like people to know these are some of our values, and we believe you should try to live them out.”

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