We Love #KCLoves Campaign with a Purpose - SMCKC Recap

Posted 12/7/2016 5:22 PM by Krista Poore

I won’t lie to you, on a normal day if my alarm sounds at 5:30am I begrudgingly crawl out of bed [read: slowly fall onto the floor with blankets still tightly in my grasp]. However, the first Friday of every month my early alarm is met with a small smile and me actually crawling out of bed. That’s because first Fridays are days when SMCKC (Social Media Club of Kansas City) hosts a monthly breakfast where different organizations in the KC area share their expertise while those of us attending are encouraged to eat eggs, bacon, and tweet highlights to our hearts’ content.

This Friday I was exceptionally excited because the topic was the #KCLoves campaign. Nothing gets me going quite like some home town pride! When I think of marketing, it tends to come in the form of a brand promoting itself on social media, or publishing blog posts about their industry to educate other; both of which I do myself, but it’s refreshing to see something different. And that’s exactly what the KC Loves campaign is; a campaign that’s sole purpose is to highlight the hidden talent and treasures of the city, and to evoke even more home town pride [as if that’s possible].  

Take a stroll down 17th and Main lately? Or see the image of all the Kansas Citians in blue after the World Series victory? There in the skyline this campaign has made its mark: 

KC Loves wall art 17th and Main

The following is a recap of the discussion around how the project got started, what it means, and how others can create a campaign that isn’t directly related to their core product, or service offerings.

*All thoughts and ideas expressed are those of the Barkley presenters unless otherwise noted. This post is intended to provide a summary of the event for those who were unable to attend

Recency Theory

Growing up Paul Corrigan (Design Director of Barkley) collected bottle caps. And like most things, once you start looking for them you see them everywhere. Now you can buy them on the internet but the real joy for Paul was finding the ones that were slightly bent from use. Recently he took up bird watching and if you’ve never bird watched you wouldn’t think much about it, but birds are EVERYWHERE!

Ok, so we’ve got bottle caps and birds but how does that translate to this campaign? Well, Paul took this idea, the recency theory, and applied it to Kansas City with the hopes that if Barkley were to start looking for creative talent they would find it everywhere. And then if they shone a light on that talent hopefully others would start seeing it everywhere too! 

Now the #KCLoves campaign is not meant to be a ‘Barkley thing’. Barkley is just passionate about Kansas City and wanted to collaborate with local artists, musicians, etc. to be a part of something bigger.

A city is a story with thousands of voices quote

To be a part of something bigger sometimes you must start small. What the Barkely team did was develop a set of filters, a lens to look through, to help them find the people, places, ideas that aren’t normally in the lime light of Kansas City (Kauffman Center, Royals, Chiefs, KU, K-State, etc.). These filters include:   

  • Creative
  • Fearless
  • Mashup
  • Oddball
  • Unknown
  • Solver
  • Ahead of trend
  • Local

The search for these creatives is ongoing and then depending on the depth of the piece, event, or idea a piece of content is created (further explanation below). Since this campaign is not client based, the time frame for which everything is creative is extended.

Once a subject has been found there are several options of the content type to create, which they break down into clothing sizes:

  • XL: Video storytelling
  • L: Photo essay
  • M: Interview/editorial
  • S: One-off single entries

Below are the two XL stories that were shared:

The Campground

The Campground is home to Chris and Cristin, who started a speakeasy in their backyard. The only way you can attend is by receiving one of their handwritten invitations. It’s become so popular that there’s now a wait list over a year long. The speakeasy holds about 8-10 people and Chris and Cristin serve premium food and amazing cocktails.

From the Barkley perspective, this project was all about collaboration. This video was filmed by Kyle Pugh, who isn’t a member of the Barkley staff. While it was edited by the Barkley team they felt this exemplified the campaign even more; that it doesn’t matter who you work for, if you want to be a part of #KCLoves you can be. This was one of the first projects completed and just the beginning of working with those outside the normal avenues, agencies, etc.  

The Local Pig*

This video was the campaign’s very first piece of content (2-3 years ago) shot in the east bottoms. One thing the Barkley team enjoyed about this project was that it provided a creative outlet for non-normal clients.  

*Those opposed to the taste of pork and the cursing of sailors, beware!


The wall that now hosts the KC Loves painting had previously hosted many advertisements. When the opportunity presented itself for Barkley to use the wall they knew with 100% certainty they didn’t want to use it as advertising space. So, then the assignment to the company was, what should we do?! How do we become a part of the skyline without taking away from the skyline?!

They wanted to create a bold statement that everyone would see. With that said, it was evident they “had the responsibility to not make it bad!” They wanted to add to KC in a sensitive and thoughtful way that captured energy of Kansas City. That started the wheels churning and 3 ideas emerged; painting the wall with KC Loves, pairing with local artists, and painting bold statement/phrases to encourage the city. Annnnd in Paul’s words, “like any bad client, we picked all 3 ideas.”

So, what does KC Loves mean? What does it stand for? Why should we get behind this campaign as individuals and as a community? Our friends at Barkley believed those questions were best answered on the KC Loves homepage:


Every city has a heart. And that heart beats in its own unique way because of the people who live and create there. We’re not here to promote, advertise or sell. We’re here to give our heart a home. Because a city isn’t made by one person, one business or one idea. A city is a story with thousands of voices and no end. It’s constantly evolving and always in production.

KC Loves celebrates creativity — in art, business and life. Ours is a collection of fearless entrepreneurs, oddball culture-makers, as-yet unknown inventors and problem solvers who are special enough to do what they do anywhere in the world, but choose to do so here. Kansas City is full of cool people doing cool shit. And this site is a place for us to celebrate those stories, spread the love and inspire each other.

One way Barkley has helped all those who visit enjoy the wall even more, is with a small spray-painted x that serves as the perfect place for patrons to stand for a photo opp. As well as a spray-painted camera indicating your photographer (official or not) should stand.

To date the wall has been featured in wedding photos, engagement photos, police force photos, and senior photos. You can hardly find any photos now of just the wall itself! What was fun and interesting is the hashtag cluster the KC Loves has now become a part of. Now when Kansas Citians use their normal #KC #welovekc #instakc #KClocal #captureKC and #KCcrossroads tags they include #KCLoves drawing more attention to the campaign and the wonderful things happening in the city.

One note of caution, though; on a campaign like this, you can’t control the message once it’s out there.

Upcoming #KCLoves Content

Kelsey Wroten - Launched!!! 

Kelsey Wroten bilboard art on 17th and Main

Kelsey is known for her comic book/sequential style art. She attended the Kansas City Art Institute and is now part of the first big wall artist collaboration

For her it’s all about creativity. Like when we were children and anything can be anything. The wall features her quote: “Creativity was your first language” surrounded by the style she is known for and a call out to her as an artist with her name on display in the lower right corner.  

For more of Kelsey’s artwork, check out her Instagram page or her online portfolio. And be sure to visit 17th and main for a close up of her work featured above.

Bobby Watson

Mr. Watson is one of the only artists to be alive at the time of being inducted into the Jazz walk of fame. For him, Kansas City was the 70’s incubator for creativity. People came alongside him and helped him, so in his mind, it’s his obligation to do that same thing. To maintain a certain level of excellence that has always been associated with KC jazz.

To see more of Bobby’s work, check out his website or his Facebook page. And of course, stay tuned to see his video from #KCLoves.

Getting Involved

If these projects got your creative wheels turning and you’d like to be involved, here’s how: If you know of any local places, people, events, and especially musicians, that exemplify the creative/odd-ball filter, send an email to KCLoves@barkleyus.com.

*Please note, that due to the expansion of this project timelines are very flexible right now.

A special thanks to our friends from Barkley for their presentation! Don't forget to connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter:

Carolyn Cohen: Associate Content Director - Twitter

Josh Dubois: Senior Creative Producer - Twitter

Paul Corrigan: Design Director – Twitter