Hot Poster Gossip: Manhattan Mini Storage Edition
For our April installment of Hot Poster Gossip!, we reached out to one of New York’s most beloved local advertisers to find out more about how Manhattan Mini Storage comes up with their incredible slogans. We ended up talking with Meghan Weber, Creative Director for Edison Properties (which owns Manhattan Mini Storage), who told us that it was the brand’s iconic posters which made her leave NYC and accept a job with them in Newark.
For the rest of her personal story, you’ll have to stop by our 23rd Street window. Read below for an even deeper glimpse into how Manhattan Mini Storage’s posters made them the most memorable storage company in NYC.
Poster House: Prior to leaving your original advertising job, had you been involved in the creation of any poster campaigns?
Meghan Weber: I was a senior designer at my old job (also in commercial real estate), and we did some posters, but given the nature of the business there weren’t a ton out and about.
PH: I can’t actually picture the landscape of NYC without Manhattan Mini Storage posters – they’re really so much a part of what we encounter every day. What is the first MMS poster you remember seeing?
MW: I first started working in the city in 2003, so Manhattan Mini Storage’s “I Store” campaign was what made me aware of the brand. The series featured all these people listing things that they store. There was a doctor on a subway platform who listed his “boyfriend’s artwork, vinyl albums, [and] chemistry set.” A beauty queen said “tap shoes, double sided tape, [and] half my brain.” They were really cute and funny!
PH: About how many new posters does Manhattan Mini Storage come out with per year?
MW: We typically do one or two campaigns a year. In each campaign there are at least 2 or 3 different designs, sometimes as many as 4 or 5.
PH: What (and when) was the first Manhattan Mini Storage poster? How did they decide upon such an irreverent, unexpected voice?
MW: The earliest poster that I’m aware of was in the spring of 2001. Manhattan Mini Storage might have had witty one-liners earlier than that, but 2001 is when the all-female marketing department really honed that campaign strategy. Storage isn’t an exciting subject to most, and they wanted to make campaigns that were more interesting or funny. Their main objective was how are you going to get people to pay attention to a traditionally unsexy product?
PH: Was the tone of the first campaign just meant to be a one-off that was too successful to pass up? Or did Manhattan Mini Storage always plan on having this voice/vibe as part of the brand?
MW: To get the attention of New Yorkers we needed to say or do something to get them to think of us. There are a lot of billboards and flashing lights out there, and if you aren’t saying something fun/funny/topical you’re not going to get noticed in Manhattan. It was always the direction of the brand to be inventive, but once the tone of these campaigns were received so positively it was a slam dunk and we’ve stuck with it.
PH: Have there ever been any posters you’ve had to pull because they were just too controversial?
MW: We’ve done some pretty crazy and racy ads, but in my years here we haven’t really had to pull anything. We did, however, get rejected by the MTA during the 2016 presidential election season when we tried out a political line poking fun at both candidates. On the subway in 2012, we had plenty to say about the candidates, but in 2016 the MTA policies had changed and no longer allowed those types of messages, which was a shame. With all of our political posters, though, some people love them and some people send us hate mail – but we find that most of the pople that send us hate mail don’t live in NYC and are either tourists or basing their reactions on a picture they saw online, and so they’re probably not our target clients. We love being talked about, but we don’t want to create big controversies.
PH: What’s the weirdest complaint you’ve ever received because of a MMS poster?
MW: Most of the time when people are complaining it’s about a political poster. That said, the Mets fans got REALLY upset about our Mets poster.
PH: How does Manhattan Mini Storage come up with these posters? Do you all sit around and just brainstorm the most outlandish things you can think of, or is there some snarky genius in a back room who presents the team with a finished product?
MW: There’s a mix of everything, but it always starts in-house with our marketing team. Coming up with effective campaigns and amazing creative is a process that requires many different talents, and we take great pride in what we’ve been able to achieve with each new campaign. We’ve been lucky to attract great writers, designers, and marketers, and they’re the heart of what makes all of our campaigns really hit.
PH: Actually, bridging off my last question, can you go through the process of creating these campaigns? I feel like the average person doesn’t necessarily know how involved the process can be.
MW: Well, each campaign is a little different. Spring is when most people are either moving out or cleaning up, so that’s “storage season” and obviously our busiest time. Leading up to that we like to get a campaign together, starting with the question of what do we want to tell our customers and how can we tell it in a funny, attention-grabbing way? With so many different mediums out there now, it’s hard to get everyone’s attention – it was much easier 5 or 10 years ago. But, with everyone on their smart phones all the time, we have to find a way to cut through that noise and visual clutter and still hit home. As we come up with our ideas and concepts for an individual campaign, it’s really just about getting a message out that leads people to remembering us when they need to store their stuff, for whatever reasons.
PH: Can we get a sneak peek of your next poster campaign?
MW: For our upcoming campaign we’re actually trying something a bit different, bridging beyond just posters and billboards to also include digital and print. I can’t say too much, but while we have certainly maintained the same voice and style that we’ve been known for, we’re adding a new spin. It’s just as fun and arresting as ever, but it also gives us a bit more leverage out there than we’ve had in the past. As of a few weeks ago, we’ve finished filming and photographing in one of our own locations, and we’re doing mock-ups of designs and editing that film right now. So, keep your eyes peeled over the next three months as we start rolling it out!
Poster House would like to thank Manhattan Mini Storage for sponsoring this month’s Hot Poster Gossip window. All images are © Edison Properties.