People's Liberty is a philanthropic lab that empowers individuals eager to make positive change in Cincinnati—but don't just take our word for it! We're passing the megaphone along to our 2015 Project Grantees in a series we're calling "Grantees Takeover the Blog," in order to better capture their projects, process and unique stories. Read on...
Spaced Invaders; Grantee: Giacomo Ciminello
The Art of the Shake
Everyone knows what’s in a milkshake. Right? You have your primary ice cream ingredient, and milk. Easy enough. And everyone loves a milkshake. Even the most lactose intolerant will find some way to subvert those basic ingredients so that they too can enjoy a milkshake. It’s cold. It’s refreshing. It reminds them of childhood.
You almost never have to “sell” someone on a milkshake. It really just comes down to where you will obtain one and how far out of the way will you go to get it. Personally, I have seen people drive an hour; wait in a line another hour to get to one of these 1400 calorie smorgasbords. It all comes down to this. The perfect ingredients. The perfect measurements. The perfect technique. The perfect glassware and the perfect presentation.
Just like anything else it’s a process. It just so happens that when making a milkshake, you have to follow very linear steps. You cannot pour out a milkshake without a glass to catch it, least you want to ruin all the work already invested. You cannot hand over a milkshake without a straw least you hinder the User experience. And you most certainly cannot hand over a plain jane vanilla milkshake, least you want to stand out from the crowd.
The perfect ingredients.
In design, it is very easy to get lost in all the pieces. Every campaign, project, or strategy session often times, teams or individuals see every piece from the get go. It happens. The more experience you have the more you see. It’s a vast landscape of possibilities that more often than not need to be reigned in to harness expectations. My People’s Liberty idea was big. Literally. We are attempting to project an interactive experience onto a building. At night. In random locations though out the city. There’s the software and the hardware, and transportation and powering and audio and the biggest dog of them all, marketing. Websites, posters, grassroots efforts, social media. The list goes on.
Truth is, it takes a small team alone to accomplish the many aspects of a successful marketing campaign. To setup the ingredients, so to speak. Again, selling the milkshake is easy, but you still need to let people know where and when to get one, right? So my advice is start early, and get all these components done and flushed out immediately. Just flat out get it off your plate. My team isn’t big enough. That was my first failure. I tried, and continue to do so, to take on too many pieces, so each piece is moving a little bit forward as opposed to crossing them off my plate completely.
The perfect measurements.
Your basic milkshake is 3 parts vanilla to one part milk. The milk is really just a lubricant to cut the thickness of the cream. Too much and you have, well, milk. Too little and people will be popping veins off their forehead trying to suck down your creation. But there’s also the other part of a milkshake. The part that gives it it’s character. Will you add chocolate? Oreo’s? Cold brew coffee? A BonBonerie Jamaican Paradise cake?
It’s those last parts that really get people excited. Just the right amount of fun and your basic premise can turn into something extraordinary. No need to throw in the kitchen sink right away either. A project can evolve over time, and it’s important to keep that in mind. As we have put together the various pieces in our project, too often we have tried to push something further and further without “trying out the complete milkshake” first. Evolution is great. Don’t throw out an idea, just put a pin in it till you’ve had your first taste, least you let it keep you from completing your original goal.
The perfect technique.
A mixologist can tell you why something is stirred versus shaken. Served up versus down. Whipped, double-backed and then poured long. It can be for dilution, chilling, or simply part of the performance. When I am in the ice cream parlor, there is a consistency I am trying to hit with each and every shake. The “base”. The base pulls you in. It’s thick and creamy. It coats the tongue without leaving that harsh residual aftertaste one might get from drinking a glass of milk under the summer sun. I achieve this by coating the bottom of my mixer cup with a shot of soft serve, then my two scoops of hard, followed by pouring in my milk as the mixer kicks on. Doing this creates a mini cyclone where air helps push the cream through the blade, and reduces those large clumps of hard ice cream.
I know this because of my thousands upon thousands of trials and errors. I say errors lightly as it’s difficult to error a milkshake. But you try things. Eventually your technique gets refined for efficiency or quality. This type of experience learning is the good kind. It helps you hone a style or trademark. It should not be confused with the learned experience that can muddle a project in the beginning, the “seeing the entire landscape” issue from the onset. There were jumping off points in this project that we knew would be cheap and fairly effective, the trick was really pushing the technology for our efforts. Working around the shortcomings while really utilizing what we knew were it’s strengths. We knew the tech wouldn’t “fail” per say, but that the errors we would hit could be overcome easily.
The perfect glassware and presentation.
A milkshake is a one-and-done drink. God bless you if you really do want to sit around for a second or a third. But ideally, you have your User captured for just that single experience. So why not blow the doors off and get them to want to come back again? This is where all the fine details come into play. This is where the show starts. And it might even start with what you say.
Example A, “Here is your vanilla milkshake.”
Example B, “One, finely procured, extended steep Madagascar vanilla bean shake, made specially for you.”
Version 1 is cold and technical. I can see this being handed through a drive through in a paper cup, to you, one of the masses being served that day. The latter suggests care, precision, time. All in the hopes of making you, the User feel special. It is served in something resembling a milkshake glass, or a hurricane glass, or anything that you would not typically find in your cupboard at home. This is part of going out to this very specific place to get this perfect delicacy that you have been craving. “This place gets me.” Now, everything else is to build expectations. Let’s walkthrough the final build.
1. Glass in hand. Gently drizzle a sauce (chocolate, strawberry, butterscotch, etc.) around the interior of the glass. Allow to drip down the interior sides of the glass.
2. Long pour the shake mixture into the newly coated glass until you are within ¾ inch of the top. This is your washline.
3. Drizzle a crunch (crushed Oreo’s, graham cracker, etc.) to form your foundation
4. Begin garnish build including but not limited to…anything and everything.
It’s step 4 where the magic happens. The more bells and whistles you add, the more you pull in your audience. It’s a candy bars topped with a cookie, topped with whip cream and hot fudge. It’s a waffle cone filled with cannolis and hazelnut swizzles covered with frosted flakes. Or a S’more with a marshmellow kabob drenched in chocolate and graham crackers. What it is, is a childhood dream, played out in reality.
And that is when you really win. When you can make something that your User has forgotten that they have always wanted come to life. That it can be theirs if only for a moment. When you have them pulled in, you have your Dumbledore’s Army. Your supporters. Your vocal advocates.
When looking to cap off this project, we need to finish strong. Ring all the bells. Blow all the whistles. Bring in the band. Roll up with a food truck. Put up a scoreboard. It’s the difference between a brownie, and a brownie covered in whip cream, an éclair, a cupcake and hot fudge. And don’t ever think your milkshake is done, because there will always be another one out there, waiting for you to discover it.
Continue the adventure here and learn more about Giacomo and his mission to fight the blight with Spaced Invaders.