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How Bandit Running executes on creative campaigns

plus packaging factories & sophisticated content marketing

Good morning

If you’re looking for last week’s email on home goods factories and luxury color guides, you can find it here.

We’re excited this week to introduce one of our extensive upcoming lineup of creative interviews - a series of tactical conversations with Creative Directors, Art Directors and other creative leaders at companies large and small. This week starts with Tim West from Bandit Running, and we’ve got 10 more coming throughout the summer we’re excited for you to see!

But first…

Thoughts on content storytelling

This week Oren spoke about how brands are world-building on social by treating their media as a TV series with no rules — some fictional, some reality TV, but all completely new approaches to creatively using video to build their brands. Examples:

Learn about Artlist for stock footage, music, and SFX to help craft better brand narratives online.

This week’s factories — packaging edition 📦️ 

This week, our factory links are focused on custom packaging-from polybags to exit bags to boxes.

- Good starter, off-the shelf, low moq: Yoko 

- Great recommended go-to option for normal production: ITIS 

- A luxury or really high quality option: Custom Boxez (amazing for super elevated PR boxes in mixed materials!)

Dissecting Bandit Running’s creative process

A conversation with co-founder, Tim West about creative direction, building processes, and inspiration

We’re stoked about this interview, because when we put our field guide for creative ops together we reached out to our friend Tim about this, and he went a little too hard in sharing value for us. So we want to share with you.

Tell us about your background and how you ended up in your role.

I’m the Founder & Creative Director of Bandit, a Brooklyn-based performance and lifestyle running apparel brand.

I’ve always been obsessed with starting businesses from a young age (many lemonade stands were owned & operated), became a fairly competitive soccer player, worked at three different startups as a PM post-grad, and got into ultra running during covid–which eventually led me to start Bandit with my brother, Nick.

I fell into the creative director role probably for three main reasons…

  1. The people we really needed to get off the ground were in very different parts of the biz.

  2. I’ve always had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted Bandit to look/sound/feel like from a brand POV.

  3. I’m not nearly as good in [or passionate about] the other functional areas.

My dad also played a massive role in passing down the entrepreneurial bug. That being said since I’m not classically trained in the arts, I rely heavily on my co-founder and our Chief Design Officer, Ardith, who constantly teaches and shows me new things that help get me up to speed.

Nick and Tim, brothers and co-founders of Bandit

What does Bandit’s creative composition look like?

So, It’s me (creative director), a creative producer (John), a visual designer (Ale), our Chief Design Officer (Ardith), and my brother Nick, our CEO, who’s also just a great voice to have in the room.

We’ve got a videographer on retainer shooting some youtube content for us, and a tight stable of some trusted freelancers across photo, video, set design, hmu, etc.

We also work with Joe Greer, who is signed to a one-of-a-kind hybrid athlete/photographer contract. He trains and races in Bandit gear and shoots our four seasonal collections.

Last, we have an external “creative counsel” with a few folks who bring an outside perspective and guide us to make the right decisions. We meet with them on a one-off basis.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on in the last year?

Hands down our Spring 2024 campaign. Historically, we’ve shot all our seasonal collections not in a studio, but Spring is a weird one where it’s still freezing out (in NYC) when you have to shoot so we decided to take matters indoors.

We used ARRI Studio in Queens. They just released this new LED wall and lighting setup that can make your shoot really dynamic and productive. You can instantly change the environment and transport the models anywhere and everywhere. We made backdrops on Midjourney and then shot models up against them on medium-format film. It's a killer combo.

The campaign theme was Rhythm & Repetition, a nod to our new ribbed performance fabric and other design details. We had two identical twins (the Williams brothers) as the heroes, and we used various tools–ribbed acrylic, a kaleidoscope lens, delayed multiplier VFX, etc. to bring it all to life.

Ultimately, the squad went into album mode in the studio for two days, and we came out with some really fun work!

PS: here’s the full lookbook + a BTS video we put together. This earns me “no gatekeeping” status for at least a year, right?

What's your current toolkit for creative work? Project planning, moodboarding, presentation etc.

Ardith, our Chief Design Officer, creates the mood board that informs the collection a full year out (here’s Spring). Lots of vintage runway and swipe pulled from the art and architecture worlds (zero from running and almost none from sports in general). Her process is our secret sauce from a product design standpoint.

Next, the imagery is printed out and carefully curated onto a giant board in our office where it lives for the next twelve months. I periodically stare at it, hoping through some form of creative osmosis the idea for the campaign pops into my head.

Usually, as I’m falling asleep.

We’ve got an 8-week workback schedule for our big campaigns that we’ve never stuck to. Once we land on an idea, we essentially assemble some references to align on the vibe as a team.

We’ll poke around in Cosmos and Are.na, but Ardith has legit terabytes of imagery from a lifetime of museum visits and flipping through books.

As a team, we’ll discuss both our childhood and recent memories of running [and existing] in the season we’re creating around. This ensures authenticity and leads to ideas that make people feel viscerally understood.

Then, we put together a narrow shot list to get what we need, and the rest of the time is dedicated to improv.

How do you currently organize your projects and assets?

For the big campaigns, I’ll get about 500-800 film photos back.

I drop them all in Figma and I use a variety of plug-ins to organize the photos, and scale them into IG feed post dimensions. From there, I spend an insane amount of time scrutinizing selects and creating carousels–crafting the rollout, which is both an art and a science for sure. 

Here’s a screenshot of the end result of my Figma for Spring:

Where do you find yourself turning for inspiration?

It's mostly my memories and instincts, but I’m also trying to be better about visiting more exhibits and museums, watching old films and music videos, etc.

When I get stuck and can’t think of an idea, I sometimes consult my handy list of things that can help get the wheels turning. My team is also incredible, and at Bandit, the best idea wins no matter who/where it comes from.

Any tips for teams trying to get better at creative operations?

Create a living, breathing deck called “Creative Process” and document everything. My slides include:

  1. A roles & responsibilities table

  2. Workback schedule

  3. Key dates for every campaign

  4. A list of idea-starters

  5. A rollout framework

  6. Principles for what makes effective campaigns

  7. Rollout copy syntax (keeps everything consistent)

  8. Production day checklist

  9. List of models, photographers, videographers, etc.

Just building this out helps streamline everything else.

Learn more about Bandit Running here: https://banditrunning.com/

The HYPER Field Guide for Creative Ops with more interviews can be downloaded here: https://air.inc/hyper

Hyper Reports

Check out our market reports. We spend many, many hours researching markets, categories, and brands & products within the consumer space–all so that you don’t have to.

How to Source Blanks 101 — HERE 
A guide to finding and producing your own merch

Market reports on Running, Golf and Tennis — HERE A guide to each sport, the market opportunities, and how to launch your own brand

Inquiries? Shoot us a note here: [email protected]

We’d love to chat!

Oren & Clayton ❤️ you