Ad Industry Innovator # 10 is GamePlan, an experiential marketing firm with offices in New York and Austin. It’s a special day for me because I got the guy who inspired the series and it’s kind of like having Buddy Rich on to talk about drumming.
Tim Hayden’s firm was my own personal a-ha moment. GamePlan proved to me that there were agencies out there who defied categorization and who were figuring out how to pull (rather than push) consumers and engage them effectively for marketers who wanted to participate in existing conversations. What they were doing was more than permission based marketing it was involvement marketing.
In one of our conversations Tim suggested we come to Austin to attend SXSW this past March, in fact, I believe he said: you need to be here– he was right. On the flight down the Southwest in flight magazine featured GamePlan in a story about how they were engaging audiences for marketers in ways traditional marketing had not been able to–and I learned a bit more about the unique position of GamePlan in the marketplace. While in Austin Tim and I had a chance to talk shop and I was convinced again, that his was a firm that was changing the game and what it means to be a marketer.
What was the aha moment when you realized “our company needs to be doing things differently than we have been?”
In 2006, Dell hired us to execute its sponsorship of Justin Timberlake’s FutureSexLoveSounds 2007 tour. We were to execute an integrated campaign that touched fans outside the arena (street teams + SMS), at an arena concourse demo kiosk and engage fans within the “Dell Lounge,” an SRO-only area surrounding the performance stage…all to drive traffic to an online sweepstakes.
We learned early in the tour to build more excitement by “upgrading” fans by giving those in the nosebleed seats a chance to sit down by the stage (Verizon held the radio-promo ticket “drop” rights), and then engaging fans online by tracking “Dell” tagged user-generated photos and video that could have only originated from mobile phone cameras (no cameras allowed per tour policy). Manually, we identified thousands of image uploads with tags such as, “Katy and me in the Dell Lounge with Justin,” and we were successful with near 60% of those we invited to experience http://www.delllounge.com.
While these tactics proved to us again that guerrilla tactics induce and amplify buzz around a brand during an event, also opened were our eyes to the coming potential of mobile technology and social media. A year later, we coined the “Live – Mobile – Online” engagement model as the key approach to driving offline experiences into online conversation, and vice versa.
What books are on your nightstand or great blogs on your Google reader?
My wife often starts that question with “when are you gonna read all of those…?” in the stack now are (good friend) Richard Laermer’s 2011: Trendspotting for the Next Decade, Sarah Lacy’s Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good and Harlan Coben’s There Will be No Second Chance (my first Coben read sans Myron Bolitar, who has wasted many a day away with me on a beach on South Padre Island or in Tamarindo, Costa Rica). I also always have the latest editions of Inc., Men’s Journal and Conde Nast’s Portfolio in the queue (or lou-side, ahem).
As for blogs:
http://conversationagent.com/ – I’ve read Valeria every day for the past 18 months…the longest of any blogger.
http://www.chrisbrogan.com/ – I read his post through http://otherinbox.com or click the posts he relays through Twitter. Chris seems to post 1-3 times/day, and I always enjoy the way he reports his live experiences…proving live-mobile-online every day!
http://brainsonfire.com/blog/ – found it when tracking a stat that 90%+ of all WOM occurs OFFLINE. Since then, I check in at least 1-2X/week.
http://adomatica.blogspot.com/ – run by my buddy, Robert Gilbreath, who pulled off the Enfartico online stunt. There’s no better source for gossip/real scoop on the Austin ad world than can be found here.
Give me an example of marketing you think is brilliant and why.
I often talk with fellow marketers about “holistic” experiential/social marketing. Hands down, I see Southwest Airlines as the best example of a brand that holistically markets (and exudes) a brand experience.
At every audience touch point (website – ticket counter – gate – seat – pilot’s/crew’s voice and smile…) a positive attitude and engaging brand experience seems to be present. There is evidence of innovating that I experience each time I fly with them, because Southwest makes it a point to engage and educate each passenger on new developments, procedures and promotions that seem to be all about me, the passenger.
There is no other brand I’ve experienced that is as successful as Southwest with its culture and the warmth it delivers to a customer…and that’s the way it has been for more than 37 years. “Brilliant” is an understatement.
We’ve all read that the pitch / RFP process is broken. Many agencies aren’t even interested in competing in pitches. Do you see an alternative to this process?
Over the past three years, we have produced several “experimental” or “pilot” campaigns for brands combining events with mobile and social media. I believe that this is a new way to sell confidence within a client, including both new client business and organic new business from an existing client. Confidence is something we all must earn, and I do not believe we can redeem it with a sexy pitch or stating we have a certain experience or a global sphere of resources. Certainly it earns a few points to demonstrate a strong network and happy past clients…I just know that “proof of concept” will rule the foreseeable future.
What does the agency of the future look like?
The agency of the future will be smaller in size, enabling it to be more agile and more responsive to client needs that change near daily. And, for all I see BIG today as fallible, I also see challenges with the proliferation of the smaller, independent agency. I’m seeing a ton of “snake oil” being sold today across all media types (OOH, social, mobile, traditional…) and marketing services (SEO, SEM, direct mail…), and I don’t know how we might safeguard against wasted investments in such. Buyer beware…make us prove we can successfully execute that which we claim.
What do marketers need that agencies are not giving them?
I believe we must all see our service to clients as a partnership solution, no longer just as a program or campaign. For this solution to be successful, I see three requisite ingredients:
a. Accountability: It should never be about the agency portfolio or the stable of ADDYs behind the receptionist’s desk. Who cares if our peers judge us as “creative”? Are we putting measurable (and qualified?!) numbers up in terms of traffic and sales, and/or are we truly delivering a net-positive solution to the client? And, while executing this solution, are we ready to address the miscues and then switch gears to go an extra mile in ensuring the solution is ultimately successful?
b. Innovation: Even within an existing client, no two marketing challenges are the same. Agencies must acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers while learning about and incorporating advanced media, methodology and technology into each new solution. At GamePlan, we have never executed the same exact solution for a client more than once, and we constantly scrutinize new technology and media that may we identify as emerging in relevancy to online conversation and offline experiences
c. Collaboration: For too long, agencies have allowed (and embraced) “media” to define what channels can or cannot be leveraged to reach an audience. As engagement (the “impression” is dying, dying…dead) is now the ultimate goal of that reach, agencies must look beyond in-house competencies to engage and involve partners. If an agency has confidence built with a client, there is no reason why we cannot bring partners to the table as part of the total integrated solution…with disclosure and transparency being key.
Who do you admire and why?
My Grandad, Art Hayden, who is 93 years young this year, has survived polio, cancer and he can recall the names of/stories about every person he has ever met/place he has been here on Planet Earth. I can only hope to one day emulate his disposition, sense of humor and appreciation for life. Also, too many entrepreneurs to list. Mark Cuban: because he pursued his passion, basketball, became a successful technopreneur and…you know the rest of the story; Michael Dell, because building computers in his dorm room bathroom is a beautiful story of hope; and too many more who’ve Sinatra-like “done it [their] way.”
No, Al Gore did not (re) invent the ad agency today when he said, in effect, that the only sustainable advertising model will be one where clients buy yeoman produced spots for as little as $1000. He did make some valid points, however, and backed them up with facts like ‘Viewer produced spots on his new Current TV network are preferred by his viewers 90% of the time.’
Al Gore is just one of many voices lately who have said we’re in uncharted waters.
- Dan Wieden has no idea what’s coming in advertising, although to his credit he doesn’t think the sky is falling, he sees this as an exciting time and I admire, and choose to share his point-of-view.
- Bootb (yes, I thought it said Boob the first time I read it too. FAIL on the name) in the Netherlands is crowdsourcing the ad agency and turning everyone into a marketer (or so they think). This model had marketers of every stripe with their hackles up this past March at SxSWwith a lot of the wrath focused on Crowdspring by the likes of David Carson and others. Mostly around the sticky spec work issue.
- Accellteon says “Today’s marketing problems will be solved by people with diverse skill sets” and I have to agree with the opening statement of the press release–although I haven’t read the ebook they’re hawking yet.
- Scott Goodson of Strawberry Frog has said “Why not give clients the opportunity to put teams of cherry picked talent together to work on their business and generate the best ideas? If a client decides , “I don’ want an agency, just want that particular team, made up of top talent across these areas” why wouldn’t we agree to collaborate on shared business with shared reward?”
None of this means the end of the ad agency but it certainly signals the end of the ad agency as we know it. The decline of traditional advertising is a reality that’s been with us for a while now–it didn’t just happen when Oprah got on Twitter.
So what does this all indicate? The rise of classes in marketing? I think, yes. The end of the industrial revolution of marketing as Gore said in the above article? Probably not. So, what does this new marketing society look like? Dare I say, marketing social democracy! I’ll explore this in part 2.
WOW. WOW. WOW. My head is spinning.
So it’s the end of the week and I had such good intentions of blogging through the whole interactive craziness. Up early, out late. Meeting Rockstars. Catching up with people I’d tweeted, facebooked, linkedin, emailed and phoned but not met; great getting to know them! All in all, South By Southwest was incredible.
Need time to digest, but certainly lots to blog about. Lots of great info, thoughts, opinions, projections and trends that will drive innovation at Hitch for our clients and partners.
Came all the way from Bellingham to meet people from, well, Bellingham. And Seattle, Virginia, the U.K. and a host of hospitable Texans, Californians, New Yorkers, and possibly every other state in the union–although I haven’t even counted the business card collection just yet.
Met people from Apple, Microsoft, MTV, and dozens of other cutting edge companies and agencies, new partners, new friends, new clients and prospects. It’ll be amazing to see the relationships that form from these 4 days.
Alas, no photos. Took lots and even some video but today right toward the end my cell was stolen (ok, lost while it was right in front of me to be more accurate) and never returned. At least not yet. But I was listening to Guy Kawasaki interview Chris Anderson. It was hard to be upset.
Happy St. Pats to ye all!
I’ve blocked out my calendar for March, 2010 in Austin….[more to come]