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Best Practices for Operating at the “Speed of Culture” – sparks&honey and Reebok Break it Down

As a part of Advertising Week 2014, the 4A’s hosted its Competitive Edge series on Sept. 29, bringing together top agency and brand executives to debate the value of operating at the intersection of cultural intelligence and business innovation.

The session kicked off with a video clip from the new HBO show, “Last Week Tonight,” in which anchorman John Oliver explored recent examples of brands’ Twitter #fails. From the DiGiorno mixup with the trending #WhyIStayed hashtag to various brands tweeting misguided 9/11 content, the clip raised some very interesting points about when it is the right time for a brand to engage in real-time social practices.

Terry Young, CEO/Founder of ad newsroom sparks&honey, and his colleague Imari Oliver, VP, Director of Creative Strategy, and good friend, David Oksman, U.S. Marketing Director at Reebok, spoke about best practices for brands that want to operate at the “speed of culture” in a session entitled, Leading Culture and Collaboration.

Why do so many brands struggle with creating authentic social conversations? According to Young, brands need to identify places, trends, dialogue and topics that they want to be attached to as a first step. When thinking about everything that is happening in social – it can seem overwhelming and random, so brands need to sort through everything and zero in on the select areas of opportunities, he said. Moving at the “speed of culture” isn’t an easy feat but it’s essential for brands that want to be successful in today’s world.

Oksman’s advice: Brands need to be strategic rather than opportunistic.  Just like an athlete, brands can develop muscle memory when it comes to identifying trends/cultural elements to attach to  – that is what drives nimbleness, Oksman said.

Culture is the pulse of the social world and there are two types – “slow culture” and  “fast culture,” according to Young. 3D printing, autonomous cars, and the sharing economy are examples of “slow culture” – these affect companies and brands over a long term. Memes and viral videos though are examples of “fast culture” that impacts culture and consumers in the short term.

The panelists concluded that when brands are looking to operate at the “speed of culture” they should be asking themselves three things:

  • What makes sense for their brand?
  • Which aspects of real-time trends and culture are a fit with the brand’s core messaging and essence?
  • Does the brand want to enter an existing conversation or create a new one?

Because isn’t creating conversations what it’s all about?

(INSERT PICTURE FROM PANEL)  From left to right: Terry Young (CEO/Founder of sparks&honey), David Oksman (U.S. Marketing Director at Reebok) and Imari Oliver (VP, Director of Creative Strategy at sparks&honey) with panel moderator, Advertising Age reporter, Malika Toure

From left to right: Terry Young (CEO/Founder of sparks&honey), David Oksman (U.S. Marketing Director at Reebok) and Imari Oliver (VP, Director of Creative Strategy at sparks&honey) with panel moderator, Advertising Age reporter, Malika Toure

The Collaborative Economy: Join or Be Left Behind

collabsummitWhat exactly is the Collaborative (Sharing) Economy and how will it affect brands, marketers, consumers and business at large in 2014 and beyond?

These questions were the hot topics at Wednesday’s Collaborative Economy Summit in New York City – an invite-only event co-sponsored by global digital agency, Tribal Worldwide and culture identification shop, sparks & honey.

The half-day summit brought together industry leaders and featured panels with top players in the sharing economy space — including Jeremiah Owyang, Chief Catalyst, Crowd Co.; Joe Justice, CEO of Wikispeed; Miguel McKelvey, Co-Founder, WeWork; Nick Foley,Co-Founder, Social Bicycles; Jase Wilson, CEO, Neighbor.ly; and Jerry Needel, Head of Growth, Indiegogo.

The event sparked inspiring conversations on how startups have grown the collaborative economy into a multi-billion dollar industry. Presenters shared POVs on how corporations and big brands will need to embrace this shift toward sharing and a new “agile economic model” or risk becoming irrelevant.

Wikispeed CEO, Joe Justice kicked off the conversation and went into detail about his “extreme manufacturing” business model – one that utilizes the same successful methods of fast-moving tech startups and puts the consumer at the center. It became apparent throughout the day that this was a common thread between the “disruptor companies” – whether you’re sharing a bicycle, office space or home – this new economy is about consumer centrism and the idea that the whole is greater than the individual.

Compared to the introduction of social media, the sharing economy has not been as widely accepted or adopted in today’s society, but that time will be upon us shortly according to yesterday’s panelists. And for companies and brands hesitant to join or unwilling to accept this movement, keynote speaker, Jeremiah Owyang shed some light upon it.

According to Owyang, companies will need to become service providers that operate in the collaborative marketplace. He noted that people are becoming empowered, getting what they need from each other, not necessarily from companies or big corporations. Therefore the crowd is becoming its own company.

Owyang also argued that collaboration effects every single department inside of a company. “Corporations must provide a platform to give people a place to build things,” he said.

Overall, one thing become very apparent from the discussions and presentations – the collaborative economy is here to stay and its starting to shift the way we shop, sell and experience all aspects of life. The only question left is, are you on board?

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