At No Limit Agency, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a broad range of franchise concepts, all vibrantly colored with an array of fascinating personalities and characters. Prior to working for No Limit Agency, I worked in TV news for nearly a decade…in Florida. So, as you can imagine, I’ve developed a sincere love and passion for the interesting and colorful.
The thing that initially attracted me to No Limit Agency was the focus that the company puts on finding and telling personal stories within brands. With a very journalistic mentality, we seek to pull the human element to the forefront with the brands we work with. It’s part of our motto – people sell brands.
One of the initiatives that I’ve helped work into our PR process is to hold open-ended conversations with the heads of our brands in order to learn more about what makes them tick, dive into their personal background, and hear firsthand what they are proud of in their business and what is helping drive their passion for the brand.
These loose conversations, which we treat much like a meeting with an editorial board, have yielded some compelling stories. One of the most interesting ones was a conversation with Wan Kim, the CEO of Smoothie King. Wan Kim’s story is incredible, and the energy he brings to telling it really resonated with me. Wan has helped motivate and drive the brand to their recently opened 800th location since taking over as CEO, but it was his story of growing a smoothie brand in South Korea (where he first had to educate a customer base that didn’t know what a “smoothie” was in the first place) and then his drive to take over the brand in the U.S. (where he had to overcome an initial language gap and the stress of moving a family to a new country) that captured my attention. He was also passionate about always wanting to challenge himself.
Because Wan’s telling of his own story was so powerful, we knew that the most value would come from having him tell it to producers or reporters in his own words, and in person. So, we coordinated a media tour in New York City ahead of the Labor Day weekend, with the goal of setting up meetings with top tier media outlets.
I flew into NYC and met up with Wan and Smoothie King COO Tom O’Keefe (who also happens to be the perfect complement to Wan, and he has own impressive background story and matching passion for the brand’s mission). We were successfully able to sit down for interviews with great outlets such as Nation’s Restaurant News, CNBC, and CBS News – but it was a taped segment of MSNBC’s “Born in the U$A” that stands out from the trip.
The “Born in the U$A” segment is a great showcase of the men and women who are driving American businesses. Even though Wan Kim wasn’t technically “born” in the United States, the brand was founded in the U.S. – and Wan’s story of chasing the American dream, and his hardworking journey to achieve it, was attractive to the producer. I had worked with this producer in the past and had some great experiences with the founders and/or CEO’s of other brands. So, after I had worked up a pitch following my conversation with Wan, I reached out and told her that this was a CEO and a brand that her viewers would really respond to. They liked the idea, and we began coordinating for the day and time and all of the logistics that go into a TV segment.
Thankfully, we were able to stop by and meet with the producer and see the space the day before the segment was scheduled. We got a great tour of the studio and talked through the type of questions that the host, Tamron Hall, would be asking. It was valuable to have that time ahead of the segment taping so that Wan and Tom could gain some comfort with the physical space and talk out how the segment would play out. That prep time made for a much smoother (pun intended) segment the next day.
One element that didn’t go smoothly (and I can look back with now and laugh) was the request from the MSNBC team that we bring some smoothies on air with Wan and Tom. After scrambling to find a franchisee near enough to downtown NYC to transport some smoothies in the day before the shoot, we were able to secure a cooler full of smoothies just in time for the segment shoot. In a dreary mist of drizzling rain, I ran two blocks to meet the franchisee, and pick up the heavy cooler to run it back. Thankfully the light rain was a convenient masking for the sweat as I arrived, cooler in hand. I delivered the cooler to the set, and watched as the production assistants tended to it while hooking Wan and Tom up with microphones. It wasn’t until we were in the midst of filming that a producer turned to one of those PA’s and said, “You didn’t put the straws in the smoothies? How is she supposed to try it?” Yup. After all of that effort (and sweat), Tamron wouldn’t be able to sip a smoothie on air due to a PA not setting it up properly.
Regardless of the strawless smoothie snafu, the segment came out fantastic. Both Wan and Tom came across naturally and got to share some great information about the brand and the company’s mission. You can watch the video here.