Studio Spotlight Vol 1: Michelle

Studio Spotlight Vol 1: Michelle

STUDIO SPOTLIGHT VOL. 1: MICHELLE
Staying Humble While Pushing the Envelope

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the Vision studio? If so, you’re not alone. We wanted to start shining a light on our incredible designers, so we’re interviewing them one by one to get to know them, their approach to their craft, and everything in between. First up is Michelle, a graphic designer whose illustration and animation skills have added tremendous depth to Vision’s capabilities. For Michelle, the story starts with her youthful early efforts in art and progresses to her constant development even now. Explaining her motto “stay humble,” she says, “As I grow and gain wisdom, I realize I don’t have it all figured out. I view every project as a new lesson.” She emphasizes the importance of staying curious and notes that her growth and staying humble as an artist mirror her “soul growth” as a person. As they say, art imitates life. But at the same time, no one can doubt that art has a significant impact on life, as it has for Michelle and those working around her.

 

A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE

When Michelle started at Vision, “staying humble” was at the forefront of her mind. She explains that she had gotten too comfortable at her previous agency. Coming to Vision, “I was floored by the talent and creativity. It got me out of my comfort zone.” But with her outrageous sense of style, love of a variety of art forms, and a ready stream of ideas, Michelle found Vision to be an ideal studio in which to grow and explore. Michelle notes the learning curve for knowing when to push the envelope and when to work carefully within the lines. She says she’s struck a happy balance between the commercial nature of projects and the creative side, enjoying the ebb and flow of production and the more creative projects.

 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF VISION

One thing that’s important to know about Michelle is her unbridled curiosity. A tireless traveler, she’s climbed daunting mountains and traveled to Mexico, Central America, Europe, Yellowstone, and the Pacific Northwest all in a relentless search for unique experiences. On the other hand, she’s perfectly comfortable relaxing on her deck at her lakeside home in New Jersey with her fiancé and equally adventurous dogs. She’s also an outstanding gardener and a soulful animal lover and protector, once driving an hour to bring an orphaned squirrel to an animal shelter. When looking at a designer’s work, you wouldn’t necessarily think about these qualities. But curiosity, adventurousness, calm, concern, and love of natural beauty are all important factors in conceiving and communicating ideas. Michelle gracefully ties them together.

 

INTO AN ANIMATED WORLD 

Being animated herself (Michelle is a wonderful talker and with all that travel experience, who wouldn’t want to listen?), Michelle has taken a very deep dive into the world of 3D digital illustration and 2D animation.

When Michelle considers the challenges in learning these skills, she says, “Fear is just a factor in creating, especially when you have time constraints and a budget.” But she says, “What I really love about animation is the problem solving. When you get something to move and flow the way you want it to, it’s mimicking real life movements. It’s so satisfying.” She’s also discovered a supportive online illustration and animation community that she has immense respect for and has been a crucial part of the learning process.

What’s in the future for Michelle? We can be sure that she won’t be standing still. Besides getting married, “In the fall I want to start advanced motion methods–advanced animation–then start implementing 3D animation.”

Oh, and did we mention how proud we are of Michelle? And how much our Flight Crew loves working with her? Our bad. We couldn’t be prouder, and our Flight Crew couldn’t be more grateful to have her.

You can check out a few of our social media posts that Michelle has animated below!

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago for a Digital Summit Our Flight Crew makes penguins fly from the East Coast most days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love spreading our wings every once in a while–especially when it’s to hone our skills so we can become even smarter,...

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots Marketing

We recently brought a grassroots marketing campaign to life in Central Park for the family-owned snack company John Wm. Macy’s. Our experience got us thinking about the core aspects of grassroots marketing and audience engagement, and what it takes to create a...

Uncorking the Latest Trends in Alcohol Advertising & Consumer Behavior

Uncorking the Latest Trends in Alcohol Advertising & Consumer Behavior

UNCORKING THE LATEST TRENDS IN ALCOHOL ADVERTISING & CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

As we quickly approach August, summer ads are in full swing. And with summer come advertisements for alcohol. From IPAs to a hundred different hard seltzer flavors and flavored spirits, one can tell just by paying attention to the TV and their phone that the alcohol category is one in which companies and brands are jockeying for first place. Despite its fun exterior, competing in this category is more challenging and complex than you’d think. As The Brandsmen explain in their blog unpacking this fascinating category, “Understanding the various restrictions that surround industries like alcohol is important to executing a sound strategy…With data-driven insights and defined audience personas, alcohol brands are better equipped to implement systems that help convert more customers.” Restrictions on which social media platforms you can push your content, significant shifts in audience behavior, and how alcohol brands are responding tell a very interesting story. 

Let’s Start with the Key Platforms: Instagram & Facebook

We’ve pulled out a few key points about our favorite social media channels and how they interact with the world of alcohol and alcohol merchandise. Advertising alcohol products on Instagram is a definite yes, with 60% of alcohol marketing on the news feed of Instagram and 40% on Instagram stories, making it a difficult and bustling place for alcohol brands to try and make their brands seen and heard. 

When it comes to Facebook, the price to get your brand’s name out there is higher than any other platform and any other industry with a CPC price tag of $0.20. This has been forcing alcohol brands to find new ad formats, content ideas, and to get intentional about where they put their ad dollars. Additionally, over 80% of alcohol brands’ marketing is on the news feed, while 10% exist on Facebook Stories.2 Whether it’s worth putting money into Facebook Stories instead of the news feed is up for debate, but it’s certainly a less busy area to spend money when it comes to advertising alcohol on Facebook. 

Here’s Where It Gets Complicated: Snapchat & TikTok

You might notice your favorite beer brand in the form of a Snapchat filter at your next tailgate, making it clear that Snapchat is a welcome place for alcohol brands, given that the filter correctly targets those of legal drinking age on the app. If the filter correctly does this, the brand is in the clear. But it wasn’t always this way. In order to advertise on any platform, at least 71.6% of its audience must be above legal drinking age. This took Snapchat out of the running years ago, but their audience has since grown up, making advertising alcohol on the app now a possibility.

TikTok, however, is a different story. With one third of TikTok’s viewership aged 14 and under, the app is nowhere near being able to host advertisements from alcohol brands. Despite the thousands of videos in the “#cocktails”hashtag, creators or influencers are not allowed to promote alcohol or related products in the US for the same reason no alcohol advertisements are allowed. As described in “Gazing Into the Foggy Future of Alcohol Advertising on TikTok,” it seems that “alcohol advertisers have every reason to keep TikTok at arm’s length for now…But one day, it probably will be [legal]”. Essentially, alcohol advertisers have to wait patiently for TikTok users to grow up. 

What Are Consumers Looking for in Their Drink Experiences?

Aside from the constraints that social media platforms put in place, consumers have a great deal of say in what they want out of both their alcohol advertising experiences and products. When it comes to the products themselves, consumers have higher expectations than ever, seeking out “unique experiences” and “value for their money”1 in addition to all the bells and whistles possible. Consumers are embracing bold, adventurous flavors and recipes, which aligns with the hard seltzer craze that took the alcohol category by storm in the past few years. White Claw’s sales went from $154.8 million in 2018 to $627.2 million in 2019–a massive increase and the entire category was then flooded with Bud Light Seltzer, Coors Seltzer, Malibu Splash, High Noon, and more between 2018 and 2020. And even though the craze might be cooling down according to experts, crazy flavors aren’t going anywhere and consumers’ desire for flavor isn’t either.

With this in mind, consumers are also obsessed with having drinks that are simply ready to go. The Ready To Drink or RTD category of beverages is one of the fastest growing alcohol categories. Sales of spirits-based RTD cocktails increased as much as 226% from 2016 to 2021. Additionally, the percentage of adults enjoying RTD beverages increased from 40% in 2018 to 50% in 2021. This trend paired with consumers’ desire for crazy flavors makes the popularity of hard seltzers, hard kombucha, and ready to drink cocktails understandable. So don’t be surprised if you continue to see more alcoholic versions of different kinds of beverages, because the alcohol industry is both trying to impress consumers and make their lives easier all at once.

Presentation matters–equally, if not more, than the drink itself. A whopping 69% of millennials take a photo of their food/drink to share on social media, making it all the more important to make something about your product stand out–whether it’s the packaging, the branding, or how the drink itself looks. That’s not to say, however, that consumers aren’t looking for a high quality beverage. In fact, 54% of 18-34 year olds are willing to choose a premium drink.4 This is in part because people are willing to pay more to drink less.

More Flavor & Less ABV, Please

It’s true, 22% of consumers globally are drinking less.4 But, their desire for flavor is only growing. Google predicts that search results for “mocktail” will increase 58% this year, making it clear that consumers are gravitating towards complex cocktail flavors without the alcohol, or at least without as much of it.4 Yes, there is a middle ground evolving between the growing population of non-drinkers and those who are maintaining their drinking habits. After all, the social scene isn’t going anywhere as a result of all this. In fact, 63% of US adults are returning to social activities post-pandemic such as going out to restaurants, bars, and parties. 

People are still consuming alcohol-related beverages; there’s just more nuance to it now. One of those nuances is the growing popularity of low ABV beverages. 55% of mindful drinkers are consuming low ABV drinks globally.4 To meet this demand, brands are creating products catered directly to this audience and the promise of its growing popularity. This without a doubt puts pressure on brands to create entirely new lineups of products while still maintaining their quality and unique brand. No easy task.

Looking to the Future

It’s truly a whole new world in the alcohol category and there’s no sign of the growth and change stopping any time soon. The best way to navigate it all seems to be by paying attention to the category, including social media restrictions, and how it continues to shift over the next year according to consumers’ desires. Through all this change, it’s going to be important for brands to maintain their unique, familiar, and consistent personas for audiences to. With products changing and desires shifting, “managing a brand’s footprint helps maintain identity and story.” Through this, “brands can connect and resonate more deeply with their audience long-term.”1 We’ll see how advertising in this field changes over the next several years as audiences get older, more products are created, and consumers’ expectations continue to grow. If you’re interested in crafting a unique, defined brand presence that will last–no matter what the category–Vision can help you soar in the right direction. You can check out some of the work we’ve done to establish and evolve our clients’ brands here. Also be sure to check out our previous blog, “The Importance of Branding: Use Your Story To Establish Your Brand.”

SOURCES:

  1. https://thebrandsmen.com/alcohol-branding-and-marketing-strategies/
  2. https://emplifi.io/resources/blog/alcohol-marketing-trends-you-need-to-know-right-now
  3. https://vinepair.com/articles/business-alcohol-advertising-tiktok/
  4. https://www.drinkripples.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-spirits-marketing-trends-in-2022  
  5. https://www.businessinsider.com/hard-seltzer-craze-timeline-white-claw-truly-bud-light-seltzer-2021-10 
  6. https://daily.sevenfifty.com/inside-the-evolution-of-ready-to-drink-cocktails/#:~:text=According%20to%20Mintel%20data%2C%20total,from%2040%20percent%20in%202018
  7. https://get.doordash.com/en-us/blog/alcohol-trends 
  8. https://together.nbcuni.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/10/2021-Alcohol-Industry-Assessment_Together-Site.pdf

 

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago for a Digital Summit Our Flight Crew makes penguins fly from the East Coast most days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love spreading our wings every once in a while–especially when it’s to hone our skills so we can become even smarter,...

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots Marketing

We recently brought a grassroots marketing campaign to life in Central Park for the family-owned snack company John Wm. Macy’s. Our experience got us thinking about the core aspects of grassroots marketing and audience engagement, and what it takes to create a...

How Marvel Studios and Robert Downey Jr. Went Viral

How Marvel Studios and Robert Downey Jr. Went Viral

How Marvel Studios and Robert Downey Jr. Went Viral

An Example of How to Generate Organic Engagement

One of the biggest players in cinematic history made a bold (and brilliant) marketing move when they decided to announce an early release for the next installment of their franchise. That’s right, we’re talking about Marvel and their announcement that Avengers: Infinity War will arrive in theaters a week earlier than the originally advertised date. The movie is highly anticipated and while the marketing team could have put out a simple press release or given an exclusive to an entertainment outlet that would have garnered excitement, they did something better.

Marvel Studios teamed up with one of the actors from the franchise to announce the new release date on Twitter. We all know that social media has captivated more than just the younger generation. Athletes, brands and even politicians are tweeting about what’s happening on a daily basis. As Robert Downey, Jr. plays Iron Man and has been in seven Marvel movies thus far with Infinity War making eight, he was a phenomenal choice to help let the cat out of the bag. With over 10 million followers on Twitter and his character’s general persona, the marketing team had a stroke of genius in using that platform to make a splash.

It started with Marvel Studios tweeting, “On a scale of one to infinity, how excited are you to see #InfinityWar on May 4th?” and then a conversation via Twitter feeds sparked.

Anything Marvel Studios did would have had a large impact because the fan base is so dedicated to the brand, but announcing the way they did went viral. This playful back and forth gave followers content in which they became invested… and the result was incredible. Instead of paying for an ad or reaching out to a publication to drop the story, Marvel Studios created a conversation that entertained followers and had a more engaging result than if they had simply posted a new movie poster on their account.

This led to a discussion about the power of engaging, organic content. We know our example is talking about movies and famous movie stars, but their actions and intention are what we’re focusing on: organically engaging followers in a fun (and personable) way.

Any time there is an opportunity to generate engagement by creating a fun dialogue with your followers, it should be utilized. Organic content that is genuine, humorous and conversational can increase followers’ engagement as well as their interest in following a particular page/brand. Most people are on social media for entertainment (and to connect/converse with others), so what better way to capture followers than by being a source of enjoyable and entertaining content?

Take a page out of the Marvel Studios’ book the next time you have an announcement or product launch. Create fun, conversational posts in which followers can partake. Be funny and charismatic; people are more likely to follow and engage with a business/brand that has a personable voice on social media. Social media is the place to give your business and/or brand a personality. Content that comes across a feed that is humorous, relatable or seems genuine is a gold mine for people who spend their time on social media.

Capture their attention! Find an angle that works for you on social media and is still true to your company’s values. People crave entertainment and reward genuine authenticity, so quality organic content can be more valuable than spending hundreds of advertising dollars on the same platforms.

Take it a step further.

You’re aiming to post quality, engaging content on your page. Good job! Now, take your business/brand to the next level on social media by engaging with your followers. Respond to their comments, tag them in a response, double tap when they tag you in a photo or like/retweet them when you can! Spending time engaging with your followers is time well spent. Being responded to by a business or a brand makes followers feel heard (and somewhat important). We’re not talking about writing a book-long response to every comment that pops up in your notifications, but a simple “Thanks for the love, @____!” or “We’re glad you liked it!” response can go a long way and keep your followers wanting more. 

Keeping with our Marvel theme, the directors of Avengers: Infinity War were kind enough to have provided a perfect example. The Russo brothers (directors at the helm of Avengers: Infinity War and the movie to come after it) responded to a fan that tweeted concern about the mysterious title for the next Avengers film that won’t be announced until after Infinity War has hit theaters. The Russo brothers promptly responded and the result went viral. Again. Nothing flashy, no long dialogue; just a short (yet impactful) response that has been liked and retweeted thousands of times. 

People want to be a part of the brands they’re following and feel like their voice is heard; so when you have the opportunity to respond, retweet/regram or like their comment or post, take advantage of it! The result could start trending.

 

Image source: Twitter

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago for a Digital Summit Our Flight Crew makes penguins fly from the East Coast most days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love spreading our wings every once in a while–especially when it’s to hone our skills so we can become even smarter,...

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots Marketing

We recently brought a grassroots marketing campaign to life in Central Park for the family-owned snack company John Wm. Macy’s. Our experience got us thinking about the core aspects of grassroots marketing and audience engagement, and what it takes to create a...

The Story of What Generates Long-term Success for a Retail Brand

The Story of What Generates Long-term Success for a Retail Brand

Consumers today are more informed than ever. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but it’s a growing trend that marketers need to continually adapt for. As such, content’s role is more important than ever in reaching and engaging consumers to create a meaningful relationship. The cutting edge brands have adapted by evolving the brand marketing process. Instead of standing for something to their audience, their brands are standing for something with their audience.

This approach has immense potential as it creates context for personalized interaction between the brand and the individual. The approach is also conversational, which lends itself perfectly to a marketing landscape that is increasingly social. It builds a deeper degree of consumer sentiment, psychological linking how they feel about a cause or activity to how they feel about the brand that stands with it.

A primary way in which brands are doing this is through storytelling – the practice of creating an authentic and inspirational experience that gives your brand deeper identity and connection with the consumer. A recent report from Skyword titled A Study In Brand Transformation stated that “companies are starting to invest in brand storytelling roles. 28% of enterprise companies have a designated content marketer and 33% have an editor.”

As big brands vie for attention, the need for them to tell their story and differentiate themselves is one of marketing’s top priorities as well as biggest challenges. With all the information at their fingertips, people are more empowered in the decision making process. They are more conscious about their purchases, looking beyond the price tag and instead asking themselves if the brand’s actions align with their own. Industry leaders have identified this and have shifted focus accordingly. It is precisely this trend coupled with the growing consumer distaste for advertorial marketing that is driving the rise of content marketing of which storytelling is a major component.

Or as Tom Laforge, Global Director of Human & Cultural Insights for The Coca-Cola Company pointed out:
“The harder we compete, the less differentiated we become. As brands sell on functional benefits (what the product is and does for me) and emotional benefits (how I want to feel in this occasion), category after category is being filled with nearly similar products. Large established brands are losing loyalty and marketshare to newer smaller brands that offer social and cultural benefits. It’s a billion dollar paradigm shift.”

He hit the nail on the head. Talking about your product, the problem it solves or how it differs from the competition isn’t effective anymore for big brands. Neither is just an emotional, aspirational advertising message. Effective marketing that is resonating with today’s consumers has moved on to an increasingly genuine form of storytelling. Brands defining their purpose as standing for or helping to accomplish something is great. However, so many companies are stating their values and defining their social responsibility that it’s losing its impact among a sea of competitors without this experiential storytelling component.

A lawyer might tell you that technically you own the brand, but we all know that consumers pull the strings. They are the ones that we have to reach, engage and retain. Brand positioning after all is not defined by the marketer, it’s defined by market sentiment toward a given product or service. By telling a brand story that establishes a purpose that is aligned with an audience’s purposes, brands create an inclusive story that people will want to engage with…maybe even share!

Let’s look at the mission statements for Pepsi and Coca-Cola as an example:

Here is Pepsi’s:

As one of the largest food and beverage companies in the world, our mission is to provide consumers around the world with delicious, affordable, convenient and complementary foods and beverages from wholesome breakfasts to healthy and fun daytime snacks and beverages to evening treats. We are committed to investing in our people, our company and the communities where we operate to help position the company for long-term, sustainable growth.

And here is Coca-Cola’s:

• To refresh the world
• To inspire moments of optimism and happiness
• To create value and make a difference

If these were posts on Facebook, which would you share? One is about the brand acting for the consumer; the other is about the brand acting with the consumer. Pepsi’s messaging seems almost anachronistic considering the size of the brand. Coca-Cola’s mission is open-ended and conversational. Everyone has something to say about each of the points.
Brand storytelling that is inclusive creates a new phenomenon where brands become platforms for conversation and change. Whether the cause is collaboration, sustainability or fulfillment, industry leading brands are redefining their identity to facilitate change through conversation and action. The end result for these brands is deeper relevance with their audience and increased engagement that creates more profound positive interactions and memorable experiences. This is what generates long-term sustainable success for the brand.

Source:
Skyword.com “A Study in Brand Transformation”

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago for a Digital Summit Our Flight Crew makes penguins fly from the East Coast most days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love spreading our wings every once in a while–especially when it’s to hone our skills so we can become even smarter,...

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots Marketing

We recently brought a grassroots marketing campaign to life in Central Park for the family-owned snack company John Wm. Macy’s. Our experience got us thinking about the core aspects of grassroots marketing and audience engagement, and what it takes to create a...

Vive la Différence! Putting the spotlight on your brand’s points of difference

Vive la Différence! Putting the spotlight on your brand’s points of difference

 

In the battle for consumers’ attention, there’s a tendency to try to be all things to all people instead of focusing on the unique features that separate you from the crowd. Consumers may be interested in claims of better services and products, but what’s even more important to them is: what do you offer that the competition doesn’t?

Several years ago, we were having trouble finding a reliable, cost-effective source to handle the printing and micro folding of tiny packaging inserts for a client. Sure, we knew many quality printers, but none that could do miniscule folding in house, and the job was too big to risk using someone we didn’t know and completely trust.

We mentioned our situation to a sales rep for one of our long-time printers and, lo and behold, she said that she could handle the entire job. Her company ended up printing and micro folding the inserts for us, and the quality and price were so good that we continued to use and recommend their services.

So, why didn’t we already know that this printer did their own micro folding? Simple… they didn’t mention in it on their website or anywhere else! Why? Apparently, they had acquired the folding equipment and know-how after revamping their website and marketing collateral and just never got around to updating them with this information.

This story illustrates how important it is to consistently review your points of difference and make sure that they are clearly communicated to consumers. Soon after completing our job, the printer updated their website and marketing materials to prominently feature micro folding. But by then, they had most likely already missed out on countless opportunities from the pharmaceutical industry and others requiring this special service.

How can you be sure you are not overlooking a service or feature that differentiates your brand from the competition? The first step is an internal review with your entire team where you make a list of all your points of parity and difference, making sure to highlight any new ones you may have recently added.

Your customers can also help you identify your unique offerings.  In a previous blog posting Responding to Your Customers, we discussed the importance of listening to your customers on social media. It’s also a great way to learn what they find to be special or superior about your products or services.

Customers aren’t shy about letting you know what they do (and don’t) like, and they just might lead you to points of difference you never realized you had. Sometimes you learn that what’s most important to them is something you didn’t expect.

If your company is not very well known, you will probably want to communicate all your points of parity as well as your points of difference. However, those with a more established reputation may choose to focus almost exclusively on the distinctive qualities that set them apart from the competition.

A few of the most popular unique selling propositions include Domino’s Pizza’s promise of “fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less – or it’s free,” TOMS shoes’ commitment to give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of TOMS purchased, and, of course, M & Ms claim that they “melt in your mouth not in your hands.”

However you don’t need to be a large company or famous brand to benefit from a killer proposition that attracts more business. Recently a nearby diner placed an ad on a roadside billboard that provides an excellent example of identifying and putting the spotlight on a unique selling proposition.

This restaurant already has a strong local reputation for the quality of their food and huge serving sizes, and most people in the area regularly drive by their sign announcing these two not particularly unique features. So what did they put on the ad? An image of a craft-style cocktail in a mason jar and a short text referring to happy hour.

The ad is noteworthy for clearly presenting an appealing point of difference in a simple, direct manner. It says to the consumer: Sure there are many restaurants in the area offering big servings of tasty comfort food but only one also has a hip bar where you can hang out and order special drinks. And, by extension, it makes the diner seem cooler and more modern than the competition.

Does it feel like you and your competition are communicating pretty much the same messages to consumers? Tired of simply repeating how much better you are? If so it’s time to step back and take stock of what makes your product or services unique.

With the input of both your team and your customers, there’s a good chance you’ll rediscover at least one point of difference and maybe even find a new one. When you do, make sure you communicate it clearly and repeatedly!

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago for a Digital Summit Our Flight Crew makes penguins fly from the East Coast most days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love spreading our wings every once in a while–especially when it’s to hone our skills so we can become even smarter,...

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots Marketing

We recently brought a grassroots marketing campaign to life in Central Park for the family-owned snack company John Wm. Macy’s. Our experience got us thinking about the core aspects of grassroots marketing and audience engagement, and what it takes to create a...

Making Your Marketing Heroic

Making Your Marketing Heroic

Why comics? And why Comic Con? In light of its explosive growth and popularity, one obvious and very important dimension is what Comic Con’s ongoing presence says about contemporary culture and consumers. For no one who is involved with or interested in Comic Con can fail to appreciate the passion, imagination and creativity on display – on the parts of the producers as well as the fans. Cosplay alone should tell us about the dynamic transformation that so-called consumers have undergone in recent years. Just ask the major recording labels.

Regarding all forms of new media, much has been made of attention deficit. About online gaming, social media and graphic novels critics frequently contend that the influence of these has been uniformly negative and that attention deficit disorders have grown proportionally as the prevalence of new media has increased. But what if sometimes it’s not a deficit at all? What if it’s, in fact, boredom or impatience with predictable content? or an unwillingness to sit through yet another spectacle of Beginning-Middle-End when the outcome was already determined by the single frame? Is it attention deficit that makes graphic novels so popular now? or is their popularity a recognition that their multiple and complex framing and invitation to condense and read complexly BETWEEN frames are suited to the intense and HIGHLY focused energies of contemporary readers? And the fact is, they are better suited because from one perspective, today’s readers are potentially (an important discrimination) more informed, more demanding than any previous group of readers in history. There is potentially more information at the tip of a finger than any one reader can ever process. And the resulting message from that reader? Simple: “Don’t waste my time telling me something I already know but instead allow me to skip around, discovering and creating as I proceed within my own sequence.”

Put another way, the message for marketers from Comic Con is: Make your content be at least as rich, complex, varied and imaginative as your potential customers are. For if we accept it as fundamental that adult humans seek above all else to be able to exercise their faculties at large in a complex world, then it follows that no one struggles through the travails of childhood in order to be spoon-fed as an adult. And if, as a marketer, you are confident in the quality of your product or service, then assume your potential customers to be as creative in their appreciation of that product or service as you and your company were in developing it.

Because form is everything. And the form in the sequential art of comics is participatory. Another way of put-ting this: there is – formally – an enormous DIY element in Comic Con. The question is: why is that so appeal-ing to contemporary readers (read: customers)? One reason may be that we are quintessentially incomplete, the only animals who are… that is, unfinished. It may seem at times like restlessness, but equally, on the positive side, it may also be an irrepressible urge to explore and, being incomplete, we have all that possibility to – frame by frame – reveal and/or string together into new or unanticipated results.

In other words, instead of “marketing AT” your customers, market WITH. “Invite” your customers to fill in the blanks, to jump ahead, sideways, back, to PLAY with the content.

Why? Because in doing so, customers not only learn about themselves but equally, learn about YOU while enjoying learning about themselves. And there is always the possibility that the answers uncovered in either or both of those reflexes may be the most gratifying of all – and that in that new-found identification the perfect space for your product or service is uncovered.

There are many insights to be taken away from Comic Con, but foremost has to be the understanding that today’s consumers are the most sophisticated in history and that communicating with them must be equally sophisticated. We all need to understand that – in the contemporary world – if we underestimate our customers, there will always be someone else who won’t.

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The AMI Digital Summit: The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago

The Flight Crew Heads to Chicago for a Digital Summit Our Flight Crew makes penguins fly from the East Coast most days, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love spreading our wings every once in a while–especially when it’s to hone our skills so we can become even smarter,...

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots Marketing

We recently brought a grassroots marketing campaign to life in Central Park for the family-owned snack company John Wm. Macy’s. Our experience got us thinking about the core aspects of grassroots marketing and audience engagement, and what it takes to create a...