Earlier this Fall Anthony Flynn, owner and founder of YouBar, stopped by Vistaprint’s North American Business Unit in Lexington, Massachusetts. You may recognize Anthony from the newest Vistaprint television commercials running live now. Take a look at his recap from his day spent with us, as well as his overall experience of his micro business starring in a national broadcast commercial.
As the owner of YouBar, a company that makes custom energy bars, I’ve given dozens of lectures, but I’ve never enjoyed an introduction as much as the one I got on the afternoon of September 16th at Vistaprint’s headquarters in Lexington, Massachusetts. I was sitting in the back row of the company’s cutting-edge auditorium for the launch of their newest national commercial. After it ran, Don LeBlanc, Vistaprint’s Chief Marketing Officer, got up, and in front of the packed, standing-room only auditorium, announced: “We have a celebrity amongst us – the star of the commercial: Anthony Flynn.” A bodyguard who had been assigned to watch me took my arm and helped pull me through the cheering crowd and up to the stage. “Thank you to everyone for having me here,” I said. “And boy am I glad I didn’t click spam on that first email I got from you!”
Let me tell you a little bit about how I got there. My name is Anthony Flynn, and I’m the owner and founder of YouBar, a Los Angeles-based custom food company. In 2006, we started out by making custom energy bars at home. Since then we have expanded our company to include fully customized protein shakes, trail mix and cereal. As our product line has grown we have used Vistaprint to expand our offerings, educate customers and look professional. We use Vistaprint’s custom printing to make the informational inserts that go in our boxes of bars, the hats and t-shirts our staff wear, the company’s check and the business cards I carry in my wallet.
In June, I received what seemed like a fairly run-of-the-mill email from Vistaprint asking how my experience with them had been. I’m pretty busy with running YouBar, so, as with most take-it-or-leave-it emails I get, I almost hit delete. But I’ve always been extremely happy with everything I get from Vistaprint, so I decided it would be only fair to answer their questions. A few days later I got a call from someone in Vistaprint’s marketing department. “We’d like to make a commercial featuring YouBar,” she said. I said I’d be happy to do it, imagining that perhaps our logo, a couple pictures of our custom energy bars and several quotes might go up on their website.
I couldn’t have been more wrong (or more excited). Three weeks later, Vistaprint arrived at YouBar’s headquarters with a 50-man crew and filmed for 14 hours straight. We had an absolute blast. YouBar is a real family business – my mom, Ava Bise, is my co-founder, and my brother, Dennis, is YouBar’s couldn’t-live-without Vice President. On the day of filming, a make-up artist and hair stylist followed me, my mom, my brother and our customer service guru, Joel, around all day. Dennis juggled energy bars for the cameras. My mom, who, in addition to being the company’s co-founder is also a dancer, did some belly dancing. And our whole kitchen staff of 20 joked with the camera crew.
Vistaprint’s turnaround time on the commercial was incredible. The filming took place in August, and by September, I was at their HQ just outside of Boston for the launch party. When I arrived everyone I met greeted me by name even before I’d introduced myself. Because they’d spent the last month editing all the footage of me, they all said they felt like they already knew me.
At 4pm, it was premiere time. We headed down to the company’s glossy auditorium, where hundreds of the 800-strong staff had come to watch. There was a great atmosphere: the marketing department had laid out a red carpet with giant blow-up Oscars. They had hilarious faux-movie posters that said “Bar Wars,” and showed my face on the body of Luke Skywalker, my mom on Princess Leia, Dennis on C3P0, and Jimmy on R2D2.
After the commercial launch, we all headed to the atrium, where we drank wine and ate canapés and custom energy bars. All YouBars are personalized with customers’ own choice of name, and so these were named “Launch” for the commercial premiere. Then, they had me sit down at a table with a stack of a hundred of my headshots (I didn’t even know I had headshots!), and a line formed. I signed autographs for an hour and schmoozed.
Afterwards, Parker Swift, one of Vistaprint’s hip young marketing executives invited me to hit some of Boston’s bars with him. And certainly, the best part of the night was his introduction when we met up with his friends: “This is Anthony, the new star of our Vistaprint commercial.”