A little more than a year ago, Ken Garff Automotive Group in Utah was planning to highlight its brand values in a training campaign aimed at its 4,500 employees.
Then the world changed. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the death of Chairman Bob Garff in March 2020 and gave staffers a different lens through which to see the group's philosophy.
The intent of the campaign was to take employees out of the showroom and present Ken Garff's five tenets — respect, integrity, growth, humility and teamwork — through a series of professionally shot promotional videos at conference rooms and movie theaters. The health crisis altered that vision and turned the enrichment effort into a largely digital affair on the group's online hub, but it didn't diminish the campaign's scope.
While retailers adjusted to doing business in the COVID-19 era as they sought to cater to consumers, Garff Automotive made sure to invest in its employees as well during a trying period.
These aren't ho-hum videos with managers lecturing the team. The series includes motivational segments featuring Utah Jazz legend Mark Eaton, a 7-foot-4 shot blocker, and endurance athlete Colin O'Brady sharing messages that tie in with the group's chosen theme during a particular quarter.
The content for O'Brady, who summited the tallest peak on each of the world's seven continents in record time, was shot before the pandemic but aligned with the perils of the moment when it was released. O'Brady's message centered on having a growth mindset and overcoming obstacles, a fitting theme.
"Doing campaigns like this and content like this for our employees shows we're going to put serious investment against this," Matt Jensen, vice president of marketing, told Automotive News. "This all takes a lot of time and a lot of money to go build all this stuff out, and it's a way to show our employees that we care about this. We watch the comments that people post on our intranet, and we listen to feedback from [general managers and human resource] managers. It's near universally positive."
The internal campaign, whose slogan is "Treat people right. Repeat," features employees from stores across the country in addition to outsiders such as Eaton and O'Brady. It also has sought to mix in voices of minority staffers to get their perspectives on working for Garff stores.
Jensen said nearly all employees have watched every video.
The team just finished a quarter centered on integrity and is turning to humility now. Jensen said some of the themes, such as teamwork, have taken on a different hue during the pandemic.
Some staff members have been viewing the content in small groups at dealerships and discussing it afterward. The videos were shot by Spinoff, the group's internal ad agency.
"Talking about teamwork in a pandemic versus teamwork outside of a pandemic, I mean, it changed how we thought about that," Jensen said. "Same thing with the humility content we're starting to create right now. I think that'll change our thoughts there. Part of humility is recognizing what others are going through, and being able to stop and listen to others.
"Both our employees and our customers have gone through a really hard year in a lot of ways."