After a spectacular lunch served by the food trucks of Skillet and Marination Station, the conference resumed with Evonne Benedict, Social Media Manager for @KING5Seattle, a PRSA student, and two volunteers from the audience. The next question raised was one I have thought about many times. Is possible to have authentic relationships with a brand, even when they are on so many platforms and have so many followers? The overall consensus seemed to be “yes.” Social media platforms help humanize brands. Also, these platforms allow for brands to consistently make authentic connections, since they are out there online and cannot ignore the public. They must be transparent.
Next up was Brent Friedman from Electric Farm Entertainment. Friedman had spent “20 years working for ‘the Man’’’. While he was paid good money, he never owned the content he was producing. After leaving his studio job in LA, he began working on multi-platform entertainment. He created many successful animated Sci-fi series, such as 2007’s “Afterworld.” It was a $3 million animated series that premiered on MySpace and ran for 130 mini-episodes.
Friedman’s speech concluded that transmedia is the future of entertainment. People are no longer watching entertainment programs passively. They want to contribute to the content being published, as well as interact with the brand.
Mark Dyce, Partner at 206inc., presented his 5 elements of an authentic campaign (see image). Before executing a campaign for its clients, 206inc. chooses a theme/strategy and then a partnership. For example, for the Windows 7 operating system, they capitalized on its photosharing feature. In partnership with Southwest Airlines, who had deep valuable marketing assets (11 million unique website visitors per month), they were able to publicize this feature to an enormous audience.
The next question they ask during their planning is: What is going to be the experience we create with the audience that creates an emotional connection? “Every market we went into we integrated a cause. For Windows 7, we wanted to give our audience holiday photos on the fly,” said Dyce. In partnership with Southwest, Windows gave out FREE Santa photos during the holidays at the airport gates in return for participants giving feedback on the Windows 7 software.
Last but not least was Steve Mallory, Director of Idea Startup at Edelman. Besides being absolutely hilarious, Mallory also shared his ideas on how to tell a brand’s story. “Every big story follows the same format: the orphan, the wanderer, the warrior and the martyr.” Look at any movie, or campaign for that matter, and you will find an element of this “mono-myth.” He emphasized that, when storytelling, “you have to be transparent & confident in the ENTIRE story. When you try to hide faults or failures, the story loses its steam.” This lesson can be applied beyond the Hollywood Blockbusters and into campaigns, either big or small.
Overall, I walked away with a new appreciation for our industry. It is always changing, and it’s impossible to remain stagnant. Thank you IN-NW for a wonderful, and inspiring conference! See you next year.