Published onFebruary 4, 2019

How Bad Babysitter was born - we have John Mayer to thank

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John Mayer aboard the MayerCraft Carrier, 2008


In 2008, Hal Phillips and Meg Kinney met on the open seas, aboard the MayerCraft Carrier – a re-commissioned Carnival Cruise ship turned into a floating festival for 3000 of the most rabid John Mayer fans and VH1 viewers.

We were neither. Hal was invited to perform comedy throughout the weekend while Mr. Mayer “rested”; he’d never even heard of John Mayer. Meg was a last minute Plus 1 with a friend from VH1 who had to work the event; she had no luggage and wore only what she could get at the Carnival gift shop and spa.

Yet in the most unlikely of circumstances, the comedian and the woman wearing foam slippers met in the aft bar of the ship while John Mayer worked women into a frenzy on the Lido deck crooning hits like “Waiting on the World to Change”. It was here, over whiskey, where we discovered that our talents made for a pretty nifty Venn diagram. It was in that overlap, that Bad Babysitter was born. 

We began with a simple belief: organizations can grow and compete by being more human. We worried that the immeasurable, messy, fascinating reasons people do what they do would be lost in the gold rush of hard data. We felt that organizations would suffer without the inspiration that comes from simply listening to people; decontextualized numbers weren’t enough to build an enduring market strategy. What if we could bring real stories and emotion into the boardroom? What if we could help leaders feel in their gut the very people the numbers represented? Within weeks of pulling into port, we landed our first video-ethnography project.

Hal came from multi-media storytelling. Meg came from research and strategy. We used words like empathy, context, and narrative. In 2008, this was a tough sell! But we persevered.

Most importantly, we met open-minded, progressive leaders who became our clients. In these 10 years, we’ve had the privilege of helping low-income mothers access locally grown produce, introducing algae into beauty, bringing fashion to plus size shoppers, understanding the boundaries of personalized media on the smartphone, identifying why seniors procrastinate eye health, emotionally connecting homeowners to paint, destigmatizing value-priced wine, and walking in the shoes of preschool teachers, to name a few. Our video-research documentaries give hard data a soul. We’ve helped our clients grow and evolve a mindfulness for the value of people in context.

There’s no ‘waiting on the world to change’; there’s only believing you can do it yourself. Thanks, John Mayer. 

Bad Babysitters Productions © 2016