Have We Reached The End Of Brand Purpose?

Rather than offering solutions to societal needs, brand ‘purpose’ risks becoming a euphemism for ill-conceived CSR campaigns. The Holmes Report’s Alex Brownsell talks to CMOs, including the marketer behind ‘Fearless Girl’, to find out where brands are going wrong. Rema Vasan, EVP and a global client director at MSL and a Cannes Lions 2017 jury […]

The post Have We Reached The End Of Brand Purpose? appeared first on MSLGROUP’s Blog Critical Conversations: Critical Conversations.

Blurring: 3 lessons from PwC’s Megan Brownlow

Regardless of where your business sits in the TMT (technology, media, and telecommunications) ecosystem, you will be involved somehow in a strategic shift that can be described as blurring. Sometimes called convergence, blurring occurs when businesses diversify their ways of making money, when they pivot into new or adjacent areas or when they take new approaches to engaging (and keeping) customers.

The Federation Star is Australia’s symbol of collaboration. It was designed to mark the occasion when several disparate states and territories formed one federated country on 1 January, 1901.

This important union is something Megan Brownlow recently reminded us of as she shared her insights from the Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2017-2021 at an intimate event at Jack Morton’s Sydney office last week. The message of Megan’s talk was rooted in the observation that areas in the entertainment and media world are blurring, just as they did amongst our Australian territories.

Now, as marketers we don’t need to be reminded that things are changing. We talk about it all the time. And while Megan validated some of our assumptions about the future, she also dispelled others, including our relentless focus on millennials and the need for everything to be on a screen.

The convergence of technology and reality is undeniable, and the introduction of a new audience in Gen Z bears all sorts of new challenges. Our new centennial friends are more safety-conscious, they know we want their data and they aren’t giving it to us for nothing. They are multi-taskers with multiple jobs, and as digital natives they’re often the help-desk at home. But, even though they seem to live their life behind a screen, that’s not the only way to engage them.

So, here are 3 strategies for survival I picked up from listening to Megan talk about the next 5 years in Entertainment & Media.

  1. Diversify

Expand. Differentiate. Branch out. Broaden your horizons. And do it everywhere. This message came through loud and clear.

For many businesses diversification of revenue streams will be the biggest focus. And keeping in line with the music theme, Megan highlighted Spotify as an example of a business successfully diversifying in this way. Despite having lower users than other sharing and streaming platforms they benefit from higher revenue due to their combined income from subscriptions and advertising and they have also been daring in their approach. In fact, by way of an unlikely partnership with rival Pandora, our team at Jacks were tasked to bring to life the audio streaming value proposition and take it to market, helping to grow the category on the whole.

With the emergence of eSports, we have witnessed a new form of entertainment in not only playing and competing in the virtual world, but even watching others take part. Over 25% of Australians now watch eSports and with competition, agility (of the mental kind), spectators and players assuming a ‘celebrity’ status, Megan rightly observed that this phenomenon is broadening our definition and application of what it means to be a ‘sportsman’. Young professional gamers such as 23 year old Brandon Defina are commanding audiences of millions just to watch them practice. And moreover, viewers are willing to pay for the privilege.

  1. Humanise the digital experience

Yes, we are going digital everything, but that doesn’t mean a future of people sitting on their own staring at a device or screen. According to Megan, the blurring of digital and live experience will be prevalent over the coming years and $2bn League of Legends owners Riot Games have already seen this opportunity with the 2016 Grand Final in LA attracting a live audience of over 20,000 and a further 43 million unique viewers watching the event’s live stream.

With 100 million players globally already, the obvious question for marketers is So how do we reach them?’. Well, it’s not going to be easy. With safety-conscious Gen Z being a large user group marketers are going to need to be increasingly creative in their targeting and approach.

By humanising the digital experience we can connect with new audiences. In most sports people don’t only become engulfed in the game itself, but in the people and personalities behind the game. Think back to our young friend Brandon. Enabled by Xbox technology, he is able to live stream himself practicing providing him with his own subscription revenue model. His fans can even purchase emoji’s and ‘stickers’ for their accounts to proudly share their admiration for the young influencer, displayed as a badge of honour not dissimilar to wearing the jersey of a particular soccer player. Through these micro transactions, users are able to brand themselves and bring their personalities into the virtual world.

Beyond the world of eSports, Megan provided an unlikely example of a category that has been kept alive as a result of retaining the human element of experience. Books are a unique example of a category that one would assume is shrinking, but is actually in growth. Live events such as readings and signings, innovations into new genres (colouring books for adults!) as well as environments to promote browsing, provide the perfect remedy to digital fatigue, again highlighting that it’s not just about the product, but how you experience it.

  1. Collaboration

Partnerships are typically considered to be a method of finding like-minded people and working together towards a common goal, but Megan challenged this notion. Partnering with people or businesses similar to us simply leads to a duplication of capabilities. The message was to collaborate with people who don’t do what you do, or have what you have. They may even look and behave differently, but this should be embraced not resisted.

At Jack Morton, we have been known to partner with other specialists to deliver extraordinary work. We have successfully collaborated with brand agencies, creative technologists and even consultancies to deliver cultural change programs for Telstra through to the Cannes Lions winning Nike Unlimited Stadium.

As experience evolves and the business we work in becomes increasingly blurred, we will need expertise in new territories. In the agency world this is more apparent than ever, with digital agencies becoming creative agencies and vice versa, niches are beginning to blur. But some smart businesses are going further than collaboration. Consultancies such as Accenture are beginning to acquire creative agencies, and they seem to be letting them continue to operate business as usual, respecting their ability to bring something unique to the table. This actually brings us full circle back to our first point – diversify. But don’t diversify by becoming less focused on doing what you do really, really well. Diversify through bespoke collaborations that enable you to offer more value.

Reflecting upon the blurring between our six territories, it is important to remember that this was in fact represented by a seven point star. The seventh point represents future territories, and that sentiment remains true here. As the world continues to blur around us, it will be easy to get caught up in the swell of change. While we may be able to take some guidance in preparing and navigating the next 5 years ultimately, nothing can prepare us for what’s next. Why? Because with the current rate of change, we have absolutely no idea what it is.

The post Blurring: 3 lessons from PwC’s Megan Brownlow appeared first on Jack Morton.

How B2B Marketers Are Using Facebook

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By Honey Comer, VP, Client Service

As a platform known for family vacation photos and recipe videos, it’s no surprise that Facebook is often seen as the domain of consumer facing brands. However, its massive user base and powerful targeting capabilities make it an unbeatable tool for every marketer’s toolkit, whether the goal is reaching men in their early 30s or finding all the small business owners in one particular zip code. Pair that with a notable 73% of people reporting that they use Facebook for professional purposes, and it becomes clear that the value for B2B brands is there (source).

Many of the world’s biggest B2B companies are already using Facebook to deliver targeted messages, collecting brand loyalists and generating leads along the way. Here are just a few of the opportunities brands are capitalizing on now: 

1. Sharing Thought Leadership

Many B2B brands leverage Facebook to better position themselves as the go-to resource in their area of expertise. Sharing relevant facts or think pieces about your business is an easy way to capture the attention of industry insiders looking to stay ahead of the curve.
Thought leadership is also an accessible entry point for many brands because a variety of creative types work for this type of message. Some use simple links to articles or blogs, while others employ more visually arresting formats such as infographics and video. 

Mobileye, a pioneer in autonomous driving technology, is an example of a brand that chose video to share a vivid picture of life in the future. 

2. Bringing a Value Proposition to Life

People tend to assume that B2B content needs to be long, complex and dry. While whitepapers and infographics do have their place, marketers on Facebook have permission to be more fun and present their value propositions in more exciting and relatable ways.

For example, Cisco, as the official technology and Wi-Fi partner of the band OneRepublic, was able to showcase how they keep the band connected by hosting a Live Q&A with the artists on tour. This content was entertaining at the same time it aptly demonstrated Cisco’s reliability.


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3. Humanizing the Brand

Facebook is a people-powered channel, which makes it a natural fit for stories about the philosophies and people behind a company. Content that showcases corporate responsibility initiatives or lifts the curtain on employee activities can go a long way in connecting a brand with its intended audience on an emotional level. 

Global consulting giant Accenture was effectively able to do both through a powerful video that highlighted its employees as well as its commitment to diversity. 

4. Driving Leads

Engaging content, while great on its own, can work even harder for a brand when paired with the right ad unit and targeting on Facebook. In cases where these elements are working together seamlessly, the platform becomes an incredibly powerful tool for driving web traffic and capturing leads. 

Operating system Ubuntu (a distribution system of Linux) provides a good example. The brand paired a visually appealing graphic teaser with Facebook’s link post format to drive whitepaper downloads and build its email list. 


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5. Talent Recruitment

B2B brands aren’t just speaking to prospective customers on Facebook. Compelling content that sells the organization as a great place to work can be an effective way of luring in top talent as well. The platform allows targeting based on things like education, job title, and company size, making it easier than ever to zero in on the best candidates.

Tech giant Oracle does this by highlighting interesting employees in their #lifeatOracle series. The documentary-style visual testimonials are compelling as standalone content – but also provide a potential pool of viewers to retarget with a harder-hitting “apply now” message.

Are you a B2B brand who wants to make Facebook content work for you? Contact the Likeable Media team to learn more. 

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8 Twitter Tactics for Small Businesses

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By Adam Rosen

Many businesses want to know what the ‘secret sauce’ is to gaining new followers on Twitter and running a popular, engaging account. The truth is that there is no secret sauce. Every business has its own story to tell to a unique audience. That being said, there are eight key tactics every business, both small and large, should employ on Twitter to get the most out of the platform.

1. Establish a brand personality

Consumers like brands they can relate to. Just because you are running a business doesn’t mean you have to maintain a corporate, buttoned-up approach on social media. Twitter is a chance to let your personality shine through. Have some fun with your Twitter account and don’t shy away from exhibiting a sense of humor. Make yourself stand out from your competitors. Casper, DiGiorno Pizza and Wendy’s are strong examples of brands that have gained notoriety over the years for their Twitter personas.

2. Use relevant hashtags

Studies have shown that tweets with hashtags receive twice as many engagements as tweets without hashtags. Tweeting about trending topics or utilizing popular hashtags within your industry will not only expose your tweets to a lot more users, it will result in more retweets, replies and link/profile clicks. In short, tweeting relevant hashtags improves your discoverability to people who otherwise might not have heard of your company or didn’t know you were on Twitter. Restrict your number of hashtags to 1-2 per tweet, however, as anything more than that can actually decrease engagement.

3. Always reply to customers

The worst thing you can do as a small business is give your customers the impression that you don’t care about them. Almost every tweet to your business, both positive and negative, deserves at least one response. If a customer tweets at you with a compliment or sends a photo of him/her using your product, be sure to thank the person. If a customer has a complaint, whether it is justified or not, make sure to address the person publicly in some manner while trying to take the rest of the discussion offline. Digital marketing guru Jay Baer urges marketers to “hug your haters” in this video for Community Managers. He also published a book on the topic as well.

4. Incorporate User Generated Content

Your current customers have tremendous value for your business. It’s one thing for consumers to view paid advertisements by a brand, it’s another for them to see other people endorsing companies on their own. If a customer tweets at you with a photo of him/her using your product, private message the person asking for permission to repost the picture from the company account with a new caption. Many Twitter users feel a sense of validation and self-gratification when a company uses their photos in official posts and will often share them with friends as a result. If you don’t have a lot of followers who tweet at your handle, you can run Twitter contests seeking out the best User Generated Content (photos, tweet replies, short stories, etc.). Consumers appreciate brands that take the time to single them out on Twitter or refer to them by name in a tweet. 

5. Engage with influencers

For small businesses looking to gain exposure, it is important to identify any influencers (or micro-influencers) who currently use your product or who you think might enjoy using your product. Figuring out a way to get them to tweet about your brand is the best way to increase your organic following. One idea is to send free samples of your product to these people (or offer them your service free of charge) with a note that includes your company name, Twitter handle and official hashtag and encourage them to post a tweet if they enjoyed using it. Klear and Hashtagify are free online tools that can be used to identify top influencers for your brand.

6. Monitor your analytics

Take full advantage of Twitter Analytics to track which types of posts are performing best. Some of the metrics to look at include: engagement rate, link clicks, retweets, likes, and replies. You may also want to look at performance trends in terms of time of day, day of the week, and type of post (text-based, photo, video, etc.) to see what works best for your audience. Other free analytics tools for Twitter include Social Bearing, Followerwonk and Tweriod

7. Use Twitter Advanced Search to find new customers

Twitter Advanced Search is one of the more underutilized tools that Twitter has to offer. Twitter Advanced Search allows you to search for specific keywords, phrases, and hashtags and listen to the conversations that are happening on Twitter. By taking the initiative to strategically listen to what Twitter users are saying about your category or industry, you can make an effort to reach out to these people directly and let them know about your company’s offerings. 

8. Offer value to your customers

All customers understand that at the end of the day, you are a business. However, that doesn’t mean they always want to be pitched. Make sure your Twitter account offers some form of value to your customers and is not just a hard-driving sales tool. Offering value can take place in the form of curating articles from notable experts in the industry, posting funny photos or memes, or offering inspirational quotes (#MotivationalMonday is a popular hashtag). Interacting with your followers on Twitter is about establishing a relationship and building trust. Make your followers feel like friends of the company, not bottom line transactions.

The last piece of advice? Be patient. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t gaining dozens of likes or hundreds of new followers every week. Be consistent with your approach on Twitter. To paraphrase the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it (a strong Twitter presence), people will come.”

Have questions about your company’s Twitter strategy? Contact the Likeable Media team here.

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Taking the Lead: Life as a Distilled Creative Intern

This post was written by Distilled intern Khadija Mahamud, with input from fellow intern Nina Evangeli. Khadija is an alumnus of Kingston University, and has worked for BBC, Deliveroo and her own company, Network and Chill. Nina is a 2nd year student at the University of East Anglia, where she studies English Literature. This post is about their experiences in the Distilled creative team…

Grunt work and coffee runs. Those are usually the two things that come to mind when you think of interns. Contrary to popular belief, the only coffee runs we’ve been doing here are the ones that feed our own caffeine addiction.  

Between us and through all of our combined work experience, jobs and internships, we’ve never worked at a company quite like Distilled. The interview process consisted of three stages, a phone interview, a group interview and an individual interview. As tough as it might sound, it makes you want to prove your worth, why would a company go to such lengths to find interns unless they were going to make it worthwhile?

More than just grunt work

A lot of companies advertise their internships in the same glamorous way, but when it comes down to it, you’re lumped with the grunt work, nothing but filing and basic tasks which you can’t possibly mess up. The frustrating thing is that it’s less of a reflection of the individual’s capabilities, and more of the standard in which most companies hold interns.

Intern coffee runs are becoming a thing of the past.

Part of what makes the work so fun is the creative ideation process. Before this internship, we thought it just meant coming up with ideas, but there’s way more to it than that. There’s so much research that goes into it; it’s about knowing the brands you’re working with, understanding their content and their competitors. Even before you submit your ideas, you need to research target publications to decide whether they would cover it and whether it would engage your target audience. It’s about looking beyond the first stage of any piece you work on. Doing that means you’re aware of what will and won’t work, and you’re that much closer to creating content that actually has a story. It’s in seeing the execution of these ideas that you really get to witness the magic happen.

Straight in at the deep end

From the process of coming up with ideas to creating pieces and then outreaching them to the world, we’ve each been a part of our own projects, inputting at every step of the way. There’s never a shortage of help when you need it but you’re also taught to stand on your own two feet. A perfect example of this was the first time we were each tasked with writing a press release. With no previous experience and no example to refer to, we were told to jump straight in. We knew there was a chance we could fall flat on our faces, but we were given the opportunity to learn from any mistakes. Rather than imitating someone else’s work, we were taught how to develop our own individual styles and voices.

Working in this way, we’ve learnt more here within the space of a few weeks than we did during months spent at various other places.

The best thing you can do as an intern is ‘jump in’.

All you have to do is ask

If there’s something you want to learn, all you have to do is ask. Even at the very beginning, one of the most important questions we were asked was ‘what do you want to get out of your time with us?’ It’s not a trick question. They’ve let us help with tasks from each team, gaining valuable skills and knowledge and building us up into the skillful employable people we strive to be.

As an intern, the phrase ‘if you don’t ask you don’t get’ is very true.

The ideal environment is one which encourages you to ask questions, not one that shames you for doing so. The teams at Distilled have never made us feel small for not knowing something. Instead, they try to help you to understand, all while having a laugh. Although it shouldn’t be, it’s rare to find people at work like that. We’ll definitely be looking for these qualities in future employers. The best way to grow as an employee is to be with a company that looks after you and encourages you.

Become a well-rounded marketer

In the space of a few short weeks, we’ve learnt how to put together press lists and write media plans, how to create media reports and pitches, how to build coverage reports and coverage alerts, how to come up with your own ideation process and build upon it. To be completely honest, before Distilled, both of us knew very little about SEO and how vital it is for companies today. Now, we want to pursue our own careers in it.

We’ve learnt more about content and PR than we thought possible and dare we say, we actually understand how content and PR integrates within search marketing; the icing on the cake? We now know how to utilise SEO tools in a way that measures brand awareness. After only a few months, we are by no means experts, but we’ve found that surrounding ourselves with them is the best way to learn.

We would recommend doing a range of work experiences and internships. It’s not just about gaining experience to write down on your CV. It’s about dipping into a range of environments and developing a T-shaped skill set. This essentially means that you may specialise in one area, but you are also able to pull enough knowledge from a wide range of skill sets. You can then tackle diverse projects, making you a T-shaped individual, and a desirable employee.

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Words of wisdom for budding interns

We’ve been discussing our time as interns in the creative team.

  1. Go into your internship open-minded. Don’t limit yourself to learning a specific skill. You might find yourself leaving with a whole new career aspiration in mind.

  2. Be proactive. Get stuck into as many things as you can. The experiences you gain are only as unique as the place you’re in so make the most of your time there.

  3. Those who don’t ask, don’t get. Write a list of all the things you want to learn during your internship and set out to learn those alongside what you’re already being taught.

  4. Keep the list we mentioned. It might come in handy when you’re updating your CV or you’re in an interview giving examples of all your new skills.

Advice to Employers

While we really enjoyed our time at Distilled, we know it’s been a learning process for the Distillers, too, as there’s been a total of nine interns spread across three offices. The following really summarises the most important lessons for them and, indeed, any other companies taking on ambitious interns:

  1. Don’t be afraid to throw us into the deep end, we’re here to soak in as much as possible in the space of a few weeks.

  2. Learning goes both ways. If you ask the intern about their thoughts and ideas, you might just be surprised about what they can teach you.

  3. Create your own list of things you want to teach interns, it’s an opportunity to showcase what you can offer them and what they can take away from their time with the company.

  4. Don’t get complacent. In the same way that you expect your interns to bring their A-game, do the same for them.

At the risk of sounding extremely cliche, we finally understand the saying ‘Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ We are fortunate enough to have had the chance to work in a place that’s made us feel like that every day.

What can the solar eclipse teach us about an underused marketing tool?

There are a thousand different ways to make the solar eclipse seem relevant to marketing. There are a thousand think-pieces focusing on how brands are hopping on the eclipse bandwagon, or how the memorable nature of an event like this is an excellent retail opportunity, or how the inherent virality of an event like this can boost guerilla marketing efforts. Those are all well and good, but the eclipse is an excellent opportunity to look at an extremely valuable yet underutilized marketing tool: Google Trends

Trends is a free tool put out by Google that tells you how popular a search term or topic is relative to everything else being searched. Google Trends has a really interesting overview on the solar eclipse, showing the most common searches related to the eclipse, the interest in solar eclipse glasses, and even the interest in solar versus lunar eclipses in the United States over the last five years.

It’s neat stuff, but what does it have to do with marketing? Google Trends is useful to marketers because it is the easiest and cheapest way to get an overview of what the general public has any level of interest in. Think of it this way, following the trends on a site like Twitter tells you what people care enough to talk about online, but does it tell you much about what they’re passively interested in? On the other hand, Google Trends tells you the little things they had any sort of interest in and is very useful for back of the napkin calculations.

Say you are looking for a spokesperson and want to compare two actresses from a very popular show like Game of Thrones. It might seem obvious that Diana Riggs (Olenna Tyrell) is a better choice than Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), but Google Trends goes further than just guesswork. You can compare exactly how many people searched for each of them in the time frame when they were both on the show.

That’s a pretty simple example, but it can be taken further, such as seeing how often a brand was searched for before, during, and after they ran a TV advertising campaign. It is not a perfect research tool, but it is extremely helpful for some preliminary calculations. Let’s take it a step further and show how it can be used in a more in-depth way.

Put yourself in the shoes of a small airport, let’s say Sarasota Bradenton International Airport in Florida. You know you are losing passengers to other larger airports nearby and you’re going to run an advertising campaign to try and fight back. You could commission an expensive study to track how well the campaign is going, or you can jury rig your own market research together using Google Trends. You already have access to sales volume and whatnot, but Trends gives you something else, how often people in your area are searching for particular airports regardless of where they fly out from. Limit your search to the metropolitan regions relevant to you and see how often each nearby airport is searched.

Analyze every 30 day period from when you start your advertising campaign and all of a sudden, you have a free and effective alternative to expensive market research. Is it perfect? No. It would be foolish to rely on this as your only source of research, but it is extremely useful for helping you close the gaps in your knowledge and quickly analyze your marketing efforts. Trends is even more useful when used in conjunction with other tools like Google Correlate and Google AdWords, but it is still a very helpful standalone tool that doesn’t get enough appreciation.

Meet The Drum’s US 50 under 30 honorees from the Midwest.

The Drum – August 16, 2017

By Minda Smiley

The Drum’s Top 50 Under 30 a list that is celebrating women across the country who are putting themselves – and their cities – on the map via their creativity, achievements and dedication to an industry that is changing at a fast clip.

Rebecca Mader, designer at Cramer-Krasselt in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

What is your biggest achievement to date?

I have what some people call “project management brain.” I think I’m one of the rare Type-A Creatives, so details and planning excite me just as much as design and art direction. I worked on a massive newspaper insert – so big in fact, it set a Guinness World Record. This was an incredible accomplishment because of the organization and coordination it took in addition to the designing. And I was at the center of it. That entire project I felt like I was floating from one thing to the next using all of my strengths at once. From figuring out how to get more than 5,000 products into the insert to figuring out what the thing should look like. It took major problem solving and a major sense of calm in the eye of the storm.

Who or what motivates and inspires you?

I’m continuously inspired by people who put good into the world. A powerful speech, a TV spot that makes you happy-cry, someone who buys a stranger coffee in the Starbucks drive-thru. The smallest of good deeds remind me of who I am and who I want to be in this world.

What brand means the most to you?

I go to a local gym called Spire Fitness and take spin classes. It’s a place I wholeheartedly I stand behind. It’s a community dedicated to challenge and bettering yourself both physically and mentally. My favorite part is that you never sweat alone. They’re Milwaukee based, and I’ve never been more enthusiastic about working out.

To read about the winners from each state, visit The Drum.

The post Meet The Drum’s US 50 under 30 honorees from the Midwest. appeared first on Cramer krasselt.

What marketers can learn from Phish

“In a world gone mad, there must be something more than this.” This is a stadium-rockin’ lyric from one of Phish’s newer songs “More”, and sums up all that has and will go on from the band’s current 13 show run at Madison Square Garden, cleverly dubbed ‘Baker’s Dozen’.

For those of you who don’t have an obsessed Phish fan as a friend or family member, let’s start here. Phish is a band. Sometimes they are classified as a ‘jam’ band (a term I personally find pointless). They are a band that has existed since 1983, and has succeeded below the mainstream for more or less that entire time (outside of a few down years where the lead singer and guitarist lost his mind on drugs, but that’s a different story). They are sometimes classified in the same genre of the Grateful Dead for a variety of reasons, but let’s just say, they are a band that creates music most people cannot easily embrace. Rolling Stone has recently said of the band and this 13-show run, “the formula strikes a balance between well-laid surprises, long passages of relaxed conversational interplay, and the goofball groove-oriented exuberance that makes Phish repugnant to civilians and beloved to Phishheads.” Pretty much sums it up.

Within this special residency, come Sunday August 6, Phish will have played 13 shows and somewhere in the area of 260+ songs, with no repeats. Some are covers (including Tay Zonday’s Chocolate Rain), but for the most part they’re Phish originals. No other band alive has the ability to do this, period. No band could get away with it, no band could physically do it … or even care to. All this while selling out the most famous arena in America while no one else is paying attention besides a core group of fans (like myself). To this core group, this is the World Series. We track this in the way others follow Game of Thrones, politics, their favorite baseball team, The Bachelor (my wife), or whatever fun thing that makes you feel alive (and nerdy). Phish has certainly made these run of shows extra special for the live attendees, but has also offered up high def webcasts of every show for $25, reaching out the rest of the world of ‘phans’ who can’t be there. From a business standpoint, this band is crushing it. With that, I thought it was a good time to offer up my thoughts on what marketers can take away from this silent juggernaut … and maybe shed some light on what is actually going on with the business of Phish.


Having been in experiential and event marketing for 16+ years, I’ve certainly gotten into a few budget battles with clients over the ‘little’ things. Phish does not care about these debates. This band overspends on big things (their sound equipment and lighting being #1) but also focuses a lot on the little things that their fans (consumers) get excited about. During ‘Baker’s Dozen’ the tickets are card-stock printed in the shape of donuts to push on the theme. Each show is centered in some ways around a different donut flavor (from Federal Donuts in Philly – www.federaldonuts.com). They have unique designs from a variety of artists, producing different merch for every show at every price level. They simply have made enough money in their lives, that they are focused on splurging at key moments to say thank to their old fans … and to make sure they keep it contemporary and intriguing to new 18 year olds looking to get involved. The old adage of ‘you gotta spend money to make money’ is never more alive than with Phish … and is true for every brand out there.


For the past several decades, Phish has normally traveled around the country during this summer period (like every other ‘normal’ band). For Baker’s Dozen, they took a huge risk of pissing a large portion of their fan base off by only staying in NYC. To try and thwart this, they’ve over-delivered to a point that most fans are still in awe of. Perfect fun. Perfect weirdness. Perfect inside jokes. Perfect variety. At least one 20-minute song per show. It’s what every Phish fan wants. It’s a big risk, for sure, but one that has had most fans applauding and thanking these group of 53-year-old white dudes they worship. Additionally, during these themed shows, there have been a variety of new cover songs that don’t necessarily fit within their standard tone as a band. It could have failed massively, but the band has built up so much good will over the years, that these risks are welcome diversions. Try something new. If it’s done with good intentions and love, truly passionate fans of your brand will respect you more in the long run for trying something out.


This is certainly a standard adage of biz … and something Coca-Cola probably has felt this past week from die hard Coke Zero fans … but it’s true! We’re always changing as people, life is always changing, and so do brands & bands. Much to the surprise of most non-Phish fans who just vaguely know and make fun of the band, they’ve been putting out new music their entire career. Like with risk, it doesn’t always work, there are certain songs that fans hate (myself included), but some of it works exceptionally well. In 2014 Phish debuted a live ‘album’ (of sorts) that is more or less devoid of lyrics and based off an album from 1964 of sound effects. Seriously, this happened. And to Phish fans, it was one of the greatest things that ever happened! It’s weird, it odd, it’s not easily accessible for a neophyte, it’s risky and I’m sure it was hard as hell from them to learn, but it paid off. Embrace the full evolution that is life. Change with it, run to the light, and magic can happen.


While change happens, and new works, so does nostalgia. Since 2009 especially, Phish has at the same time embraced new and nostalgia. In some ways, it is the new that makes the old even better. There are 30-year-old Phish songs that the band ‘could’ play every night, but they don’t … and that makes those times when they do all the much sweeter. For a certain segment of brands, there is a lot of untapped magic in the old, from time to time. I think there’s too much respect given to what’s next. While evolution is inevitable, and time keep ticking on, there is magic in history and to ‘going home’. Phish can play a 30-year-old song in a fresh new way on any given night … and it works for a 16-year kid who barely knows it … and that 40-year-old guy who fell in love with it in 1994.


This may be obvious, but this can’t be easy for them. These 4 guys are loaded now. They could phone this in and people would still give them all their cash … but they DON’T. Phish fans are highly critical. We all think we’re food / art / music critics … and will happily tell you what we think of each show … and since the dawn of the internet, have made these critiques well known and distributed. Phish has not talked much about their music in a way since 2009, or embraced publicly any dissection of it, but we all know they’re paying attention. They hear it and they care. These guys want to provide a quality product for a small segment of the population, and they work DAMN hard to do it. Brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, NIKE, Sierra Nevada … they hear it, and they actually pay attention to try and make the brand experience a great one.


Phish has spent, what I can only assume, a ridiculous amount of money, time and effort on their own app, Live Phish, where for $10 / month you can listen to every Phish show minutes after it is over. The quality, sound and user experience is nearly perfect. In addition, a significant amount of all of Phish’s live shows over their history are on the app to listen to as well. Is there anything remotely like this from any other band right now? On top of that, the band’s twitter feed provides live updates of song lists in real time to track … and has an A-list photographer on staff at every show, providing awesome stage pics via social. Do they have to do this? Hell no! Is it an unnecessary cost at some level? YES! But, it’s these extra efforts, attention to detail and embracing new channels and technology that keeps it all fresh and from becoming a state fair act.

Listen, I know that this is certainly not for everyone. There are certain bands I love that I try to bring people into all the time. Phish is not one of them. They are weird. It’s full of inside jokes, odd fairly-tale style stories, the scene can be a bit much to take sometimes, and I get it. It’s certainly not for everyone … and I get how easy it is to make fun of. However, for brand, sponsorship and entertainment marketers, there is a LOT to learn from the way they run their business and the ‘product’ they provide their fans. You may never be able to talk to me about the nuances of the 1998 Riverport Bathtub Gin, but I could certainly get you to see the value of embracing certain commercial moves of Phish. If you can see through the smoke, there’s gold in there.

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With names like ‘surge protector’ and ‘torpedo tube,’ free condoms are finally fun.

Adweek – August 15, 2017

By Angela Natividad

Have you ever been to a Planned Parenthood, or any similar organization, to fish from their glass bowl of free condoms?

It’s awkward. Worse still is what you end up with: A handful of suspect brands you may not recognize, or sometimes—if you’re lucky—a random pineapple-flavored one, more perplexing than exciting.

Free condoms get a bad rep. And while that’s not the only reason a teen gets pregnant or contracts an STD, their inherent lack of sexiness doesn’t help overcome that ol’ “Ugh, condoms don’t feel good” chestnut.

With that in mind, Milwaukee, Wis.-based organization Diverse & Resilient partnered with agency Cramer-Krasselt to come up with something cool—and just as free as the tropically-tanged Jimmy hats of yore: Naughty Bags, a brand of condoms created by teens, for teens.

The U.S. teen pregnancy rate dropped 9 percent in 2016, marking an all-time low. But it’s nonetheless higher than in other developed countries, with remaining disparities for minority groups and people in certain geographical locations. Milwaukee’s teen pregnancy rate is three times higher than the national average, and STD transmission worsened as U.S. rates hit a record high.

As Cramer-Krasselt puts it, Naughty Bags are meant to “hit the sweet—and often missed—spot of function and lifestyle.” In other words, they’re neither boring nor embarrassing.

Made instead to be sex-positive, humorous and cool, the labeling was designed in partnership with the target market and features witty names like Pork Parka, Pelvic Poncho, Scuba Gear, Surge Protector and—our favorite—Papa Stopper.

Finally a place where young people can put all their clever puns to good use!

The insight was drawn from focus groups with young urban adults and research on their sexual behavior. WISN.com posted a video of teens themselves talking about whether Naughty Bags will actually make a difference. Even if they’re a little corny, “People will laugh at them and try to get one so they can show people or tell people about it,” one says when asked the question point-blank.

The condoms went into distribution this month, in places that (hurray!) don’t require you to cross an angry evangelist picket line or scrounge for change while getting gas. They’re being handed out at barber shops, including Gee’s Clippers and Dep’s Hall of Fades, and discreet pickup locations disguised as newspaper stands. Diverse & Resilient is also giving them away at its home base and via its 414All program.


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