The Bolster brass say they don’t just market products but deepen the ties among consumers, company and employees through stories that depict purpose and experience. And Roesler, 33, has quite a story to tell.
His video, “The Starfish Throwers,” which started as a student project at the University of Minnesota, has been feted by film festivals, food-security organizations and media as one of the most powerful documentaries of 2014.
It’s based on the story of the child who teaches an adult that saving just one starfish, by tossing it back in the sea, from a beach full of hundreds is a worthy act. Roesler’s “Starfish Throwers” reminds us of how a single act of charity also can grow into a social movement.
It’s demonstrated by the stories of a five-star chef in India, a South Carolina teenage girl who starts a garden that blooms into many acres, and a retired Minneapolis schoolteacher who has become a force in feeding and clothing disadvantaged kids.
The video has been praised as a powerful reminder that a single kind act benefits givers as well as grateful recipients. Amid all the hype about technology, it touts the power of human touch and generosity.
The film was released on DVD and cable on Oct. 16, coinciding with United Nations World Food Day.
“It’s a story about greater good,” Roesler said. “As the subjects of the film so beautifully demonstrate, we all have the potential to create positive change one small action at a time.”
Jason Hammond, a Bolster founder, said the agency works through workshops and other engagements with clients such as Best Buy, Deloitte, Feeding America, RedBrick Health and United Way to discover and articulate purpose and empower employees to better serve customers.
“The marketing must be authentic because media-bombarded consumers are skeptical of most brand content,” Hammond said. “It’s not a science. It’s still an art.
“Jesse put his heart and capital in this. And we helped market and promote it. We own a portion of the film.”
Hammond said Bolster, with 10 employees and 15 contractors, likes being small and nimble because the three owners and senior people who pitch the business also work with the clients after they win the business.
“We don’t have a ‘B team’ said Hammond, who said the firm will have revenue of “several million dollars” this year.
And Bolster’s research says that millennials, the youngest in the workforce, want their work to connect to their purpose.
And employers need to listen, in an economy that is marked by thousands of retiring baby boomers and a low-unemployment rate. That translates to young employees who have choices about where to work.
“[Young workers] want a clearly articulated purpose and they crave a meaningful work-life experience,” Bolster says in a recent report to clients. “This socially conscious generation embraces diversity, seeks out sustainable and environmentally friendly products and wants companies to be actively engaged in a cause.”
Amy von Walter, a Best Buy vice president who hired Bolster after seeing “The Starfish Throwers,” said she recommends the Bolster-related workshop to “any leader who is looking to develop, engage and motivate his or her team. Jesse … used storytelling to help attendees envision how to overcome challenges or barriers and inspire change on both a personal and professional level. Our team walked away … feeling energized, optimistic and excited for the future. Bolster’s workshop is truly impactful and a creative approach [that] is refreshing, effective and fun!”