PechaKucha is a strange word. It’s Japanese for “chit-chat,” but the event, now in its 12th year, is much more than that. Hatched in Tokyo as a creative project by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein-Dytham Architecture, the idea spawned an experimental space for young, innovative artists and creatives to meet and share their work. The presentations follow a format of 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds. Simple enough. The event has since expanded, and as of 2014, over 700 cities worldwide have participated. Salt Lake City joined again this month, featuring our very own Phil Smallwood and Garrett Martin.

Hosted at Addictive Behavior Motorworks, our creative directors joined 13 others as they bravely took the stage to talk about their chosen topics. The atmosphere was relaxed, a collection of creative minds spanning from architecture to motorcycles, with casual conversation and craft beer.

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The best presentations come from a place of passion. So, it makes sense that Garrett and Phil’s keynote was about something quite close to their hearts: GumCo. To start an agency, you have to really, really love advertising. And advertising doesn’t have the best reputation. So, when Steve, Garrett, and Phil decided to start their own place, they wanted to choose the stories they told and create their own brand of advertising. The mantra?

Not stuff you own, places you go.

“Even good creative, if it’s just promoting random, indiscriminate consumerism is bad. So this became our mantra and what described us,” says Garrett.

Phil explains how travel and tourism was the perfect place to put this plan into action. A map wasn’t just geography to them; it was a space to play, to find purpose.

“We were excited to tell stories about where people were from… People who weren’t suits in a room trying to meet a quota, but people who cared about where they were from.”

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The two talked about the many obstacles they faced when starting their work, bringing no clients from their previous agency. But gradually, with challenging locations like Colusa County and the Port of Friday Harbor, they tapped into explicit insights of what made these destinations truly incredible.

So continued their journey onto more high profile clients, such as Moab, where they lost the pitch at first. But, passionate about the place and its potential, they stayed up all night making a brilliant brand video to campaign that rejection. And as a result, Moab reversed the decision.

With Utah Treasurer’s Office, GumCo found value shedding light on the benefits to Utah’s people: finding assets they were unaware of, and awarding them in cash. And so MyCash was born, transforming from a stuffy government brand into something approachable for the people it helped.

“That’s is where we found our fulfillment for advertising, something that can be so disgusting, but if you’re talking about the right things, it can be amazing,” says Phil. “At GumCo, we’ve looked for clients that have something we can believe in… Those become our dream clients.”

GumCo’s goal is making work that matters to people, meaningful stories that aim to inspire and help others, whether it’s leading them to something that improves their lives or off on a new adventure altogether.

Not stuff you own, places you go.

Congrats to Phil and Garrett for their awesome presentation.

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