When baby boomers find entirely new second lives, we want you to know about it. And these particular baby boomers, Silvana Clark and her husband Allan who used to live in Bellingham, Washington, have found not just new lives but new purpose. They are “brand ambassadors.”
Like many empty nesters, we looked around our family-sized home and asked, “Now what?” On the one hand, there was no reason we couldn’t just pack up and leave. But on the other hand, leave for where? As avid travelers, we needed a purpose to travel. Sitting on a beach in Maui deciding between a luau or surfing lessons wasn’t for us. So my husband Allan and I decided to try and create our own job that would pay us to travel.
I sent an email to the CEO of a shoe charity that knew us slightly through our volunteer work with his organization. My email simply suggested that he buy us an RV and hire us to travel around the United States, promoting his charity. Wild as it sounds, he soon called and said, “I bought an RV. Can you be here in three weeks?” We thought, why not? We rented out our house, packed a few things, and found ourselves living and working from a branded RV for 19 months.
It was then that we learned how many companies hire “Brand Ambassadors” to travel and raise visibility about their business. Who hasn’t heard about the Oscar Meyer Wiener Mobile traveling around the country giving out wiener whistles?
When our tour ended with the shoe charity, I mailed postcards to ad agencies that specialize in recruiting Brand Ambassadors. Since most of these positions are filled by bright-eyed Millennials, my postcard was different. Underneath a picture of Allan standing on top of the RV, the caption said, “We may not look like your typical college-aged Brand Ambassadors, but we’re experienced, professional and fun to work with!” On the back, I listed a few of our qualifications.
Within a few days, several marketing directors offered us well-paying jobs. We went with a company that provided disaster relief after hurricanes hit Mississippi and Louisiana. Stopping at 23 cities, we gave out 1,400 bags of hygiene items every day from our branded RV.
A few months later, I mailed out more postcards. It took only three days to get a high-paying job offer. Allan and I each drove branded Mercedes Sprinter vans across the country for nine months as Brand Ambassadors for a major corporation.
Knowing how effective a branded vehicle can be, we decided to change tactics and volunteer to be Brand Ambassadors for a non-profit, Royal Family KIDS. Again, we sent an email to the CEO and said, “What if we buy an RV and travel around the country helping promote your camps for abused, neglected and abandoned children?”
So now our normal-looking white RV is covered with faces of children … children who come to camp with torn clothes, no sleeping bag, and a general distrust of adults. Some children are hesitant to take off their long-sleeved shirts at swim time because of the scars on their bodies. Since many children hoard food, camp offers unlimited bacon! Many of these kids have never experienced a birthday party. Thursday nights, at all 200 camps, they plan “Everybody’s Birthday Party,” complete with games, cake, and presents.
So once again we find ourselves traveling with a purpose. This time though, the purpose isn’t to help a corporation increase its profits, but to help abused children learn self-confidence and self-worth. Whether helping with staff training, speaking at a fund-raising event, or honoring a volunteer, we know our efforts are changing the lives of young children.