- Swiss Army Knives: Going the Distance with Alicia Hungerford
Swiss Army Knives: Going the Distance with Alicia Hungerford
Written by Donna Davidson
We all need heroes to show us the way forward in life: Alicia Hungerford is one of mine. Two years ago, Alicia moved to Scotland to help drive the development of a series of new brand homes for Diageo, which included a Johnnie Walker flagship brand home and the “Four Corner” distilleries of Scotland: Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila, and Clynelish. The biggest, most complex project was Johnnie Walker Princes Street, an eight-story brand home in the center of Edinburgh. She brought a full measure of passion to this project, along with creativity, versatility, strategic savvy, and a ferocious work ethic.
Finding her way to BRC
I got the chance to catch up with Alicia recently. My first question was how she found her way to BRC Imagination Arts.
“My work in PR and marketing advocating for brands aligned with my experience as a history major in college telling cultural stories. Both were about finding your voice and inviting others to express theirs. It was only when I worked for BRC that I saw how these tasks were the same. BRC has honed my skills as a storyteller. Every project I get to work on is a passion project.”
I asked her what she likes best about working at BRC. “It’s inspiring to be part of these small, dedicated teams where anything is possible and every team member is a world-class expert at what they do. I thrive when I’m with my team brainstorming, creating solutions under deadline pressure. Together, we push past what’s been done before and deliver a transformative experience for our guests. We always keep that the center of what we do: what’s going to make a difference for the guest? How can we use every resource—color, texture, light, sound—to immerse our guests in an adventure that will leave them with a memory they’ll savor for the rest of their lives? Our stories reach beyond the latest trends in engagement and find the timeless and transformative connections with our audience.
Producing through the pandemic
We talked quite a bit about what it was like to make the transition from America to Scotland. She smiled as she thought of how she’d changed over these past two years. “I knew it was going to be challenging, and I tried to prepare myself for that as best I could, but as in any project of this scale – there were lots of surprises. I like to think of myself as a determined person when things get difficult – and I really owe it to the team who helped each other continue to move forward and truly make something epic. I realized that the most important tool I could use was deep listening, and responding appropriately as circumstances changed. It challenged me to think differently. I had to assimilate different points of view. I was edified by the way our partners did things: their attention to detail, their passion for sustainable and locally sourced goods, their dedication to create something impactful for their community, and then the world. It made me think differently about the work we were doing.
We also had to get creative with the creative process! Because of COVID, the most hands-on phase of the project had to be done on screen. We got pretty innovative using everyday items to measure scale, materials, and products through shop windows, and reviewing media and choreography through super streaming setups. The team had to put a ton of trust in each other to fill in the gaps. From disparate locations we had to work from a common vision, then turn that vision into something real and engaging. We did, and it all worked out beautifully.
The creative producer approach
I asked Alicia about her current role as a Creative Producer at BRC. “I play a leadership role on our creative team to help keep us focused on an outcome that is engaging and useful: one that speaks to the brand and audience. I ensure we’re all on the same page and the 2D aligns with the 3D and then in real life. And I get to see that final product and keep hammering the goals from day one – to make sure we’ve delivered exactly what was promised.
A lot of the brands we work with have never had a physical presence in the world, they’ve just existed digitally. It’s like taking an Instagram page and making something real out of it. That’s a fascinating challenge, and we work hard to get it right. I’m there right from the start, from the first client pitch through the Charrette process, so I have the knowledge of what we’ve been tasked to do.
At the end of the day, it’s all about brand storytelling: inviting guests into a world of authenticity and engagement, that makes them understand how their values and the values of the brand align. Our goal is to transform them into brand advocates and make them want to share their enthusiasm with the world.”
Her smile broadened as she remembered one of the Johnnie Walker brand homes she helped create. “There were tears of joy when Glenkinchie opened because finally, the people who had worked at the distillery for years had a world-class brand home that complimented their passion. Now guests understand the painstaking craft that produces this great whisky.”
Alicia Hungerford is a classic BRC “Swiss Army Knife”: smart, skillful, and versatile, with a gift for leadership. So happy she’s a part of the BRC team!