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.”
Tomorrow is the first post in my new blog series Ad Industry Innovators.
The idea is borrowed (with permission) from Aaron Strout at Powered and his series called Experts in our Industry.
I’d have coffee with a different agency leader once a week if I could but that’s not practical, so this is the next best thing.
I don’t want to be the smartest one in the room; and if I am, it’s not a room I want to stay in very long! It’s what I love about helping clients find the best agency for their project. I stay current on emerging technologies for marketing (as much as anyone can) and get to work with some of the sharpest minds in marketing on the client and agency side.
In the coming weeks I’ll introduce you agency people who are leading the industry in this new era of marketing. No one knows for sure where we’re headed but they all agree that things are changing, and fast.
I’m honored to kick things off with the folks at Traction in San Francisco, CA.
Next is my buddy Tim Hayden from Game Plan Experience with offices in Austin, TX and New York, NY.
We’ve got Chris Clarke from the global agency, Nitro Group and even some Seattle stand-outs like DNA-Seattle and Boom Boom.
We go global again with Alain Thys from Futurelab and lots more but I don’t want to give away all the surprises!
So put us in your Google Reader. Subscribe. Tell your friends. ”Wake the kids and phone the neighbors.” It should be fun!