Thinking of ways that companies, and groups, can see themselves differently — and benefit from the changed perspective — is what Beth Burgy does for a living.
Her most recent rebranding brainstorm?
To see if 10 women, none of whom had hunted previously or were handy with guns, could travel to South Dakota and return home with coolers full of pheasants.
And have a great time doing it.
"I sent an email to the women, some of whom didn't know one another, and said, 'Let's do a hunting thing,'" Burgy said the other day. "We've done various outings and dinners, but none of us had gone on a hunting trip. 'Let's go,' I said. 'Let's do something different.'"
Burgy is president and chief operating officer of Broadhead, a 180-employee creative agency headquartered in Minneapolis with offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Portland, Ore.
"To a person the women I contacted told me, 'Count me in,'" Burgy said.
So it was on a recent day that Burgy and her invitees caravanned to 1,000-acre Mystic Prairie Lodge, a commercial pheasant hunting operation near Miller, S.D.
Tom Slunecka, who runs Mystic Prairie, has known Burgy for about 25 years, dating to when he worked for an agriculture chemical company in New Jersey, for which Burgy's previous firm provided advertising and marketing.
"Tom's been asking me forever to come to South Dakota and hunt," Burgy said. "Finally I said OK."
One woman who made the trip was Danyel O'Connor, chief executive of Cravings by Chrissy Teigen. O'Connor works in Milwaukee and Los Angeles, and flew in from the West Coast in time to catch a ride to South Dakota with the other women.
"I grew up in Wisconsin and have family members who hunt, so I know what hunting is about," she said. "And while I've never hunted myself, I'm a fairly adventurous person. I figured I'd give it a shot."
Slunecka was confident the women would have a memorable experience. His family used downtime during the COVID pandemic to dress up their operation, and now Mystic Prairie clients can wind down after long days of hunting by ...
Throwing an axe.
Or shooting a pistol.
"We've also got a pickleball court," he said.
Corporate groups like Burgy's routinely visit South Dakota commercial pheasant operations. Often these collections include one or more members who hasn't hunted. With careful firearms instruction, safety can be assured, Slunecka said, adding that group hunts are not only fun, they can build cohesiveness and respect among participants.
"Barriers break down during these hunts," he said. "When you're side by side with one another and you're each holding a firearm, there is no hierarchy, whether you're a CEO or a janitor. You're on a level playing field and you have to trust one another. You can't replicate this same group dynamic while fishing or golfing."
After breakfast the first morning, each woman was assigned an over-and-under 12-gauge. Gun safety instruction followed, as did practice shooting on a trap range.
Slunecka said the double-barreled shotguns provide a level of safety that pumps and semi-auto scatterguns don't, because when the over-and-unders are broken open, they can't be fired.
The first morning's hunt began with Slunecka and two other guides lining seven of the women more or less alongside one another to walk a cut cornfield. The three other women were positioned as blockers at the field's end.
With luck, pheasants that ran ahead of the seven women but didn't flush would be forced into the air by the blockers.
O'Connor was in the line of seven.
"When [Tom] handed me the gun I felt really great about it,'' she said. "We had good instruction and training and the guides made sure we were spaced correctly and comfortably."
Slunecka had never hosted an all-women hunting group before, and there were noticeable differences between this bunch and similar gatherings of men, he said.
"For one thing," he said, "the women followed the gun safety and other directions attentively, far more than men do. Unlike in a group of men, where there's often one guy who brags or there's competition, the camaraderie among the women was fantastic."
As if to reward her for organizing the event, Burgy shouldered her shotgun and dropped the first bird that flushed. O'Connor got off a few shots, too. "Though it's debatable whether I actually hit anything," she said.
That evening after dinner, with 22 roosters in the bag, the women retired on the lodge grounds to a one-time chicken brooder house. The building had been rebranded, as Burgy might say, and now appears as an Old West saloon, replete with a barkeeper and fireplace.
"There's something about sharing a new experience that can bring people closer," O'Connor said. "I think in the future a lot of us who were in South Dakota will lean on each other for projects in ways we might not have otherwise."
"We [Broadhead] are a female-led agency and we have many women clients," she said. "That evening there was a lot of talk among us about what it's like being a woman in a very male-dominated industry. The sharing and collaboration of experiences and ideas was fun, and valuable.
"Everyone said they would do it again."