Posts Tagged ‘The Unconventionals’

Embodying the Craft Ethos: Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better

January 12, 2015
Heady Topper | The Unconventionals

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At the Brand Center we firmly believe that a strong brand begins with a great product or service and is maintained with a clear purpose. The rapid growth of the craft beer industry is one testament to this. Listen to The Unconventionals’ latest podcast for a fascinating interview with John and Jen Kimmich, the founders of The Alchemist Brewery, a small craft brewery that embodies these sentiments. They are best known for producing Heady Topper, which is viewed as one of the best beers in the world.

The couple was running a small pub when, “People started taking our beer out… pouring pints into bottles, and capping bottles, and trading it,” John recalls, “I can’t believe some dude did that!” Hurricane Irene pummeled the company’s pub in 2011 and forced them to refocus all their efforts on building a production brewery. “We do zero marketing,” John states, “We have no marketing other than the picture on the can and what is in the can.” Despite the demand to expand, the couple isn’t interested in taking on investors, and remains happy and proud of how they help build and support their Vermont community.

The Center on Global Brand Leadership is a proud academic supporter of The Uncoventionals.

BY MATTHEW QUINT

Investing in Unconventional Thinking

April 23, 2013

PJA Some of the best brand stories emerge from unconventional thinking, especially in a market environment where pure financial wins are harder and harder to come by. Big blue-chip companies are increasingly turning to less traditional methods for expanding brand awareness and affinity by adding a more “human” touch to their marketing efforts. At the BRITE ’13 conference, PJA Advertising + Marketing’s President Mike O’Toole led a panel of marketers from Intel and PepsiCo who have invested in just this type of thinking. Panel members relayed some unique brand-building tactics and how they’re positioning themselves for stronger relationships with current and future customers.

O’Toole, host of PJA Radio’s “The Unconventionals”, started the conversation by noting some of the common characteristics of outside-the-box approaches. In particular, he highlighted the long-term nature of these initiatives, saying, “There’s a sense that if you create experiences that your customer cares about, the goodness will accrue back to you over time.” He also notes that content-owned platforms, vs. external media sponsors, have become a popular tactic in recent years. Txchnologist, an online magazine created in partnership with and sponsored by GE, is one example. Populated by a network of freelance writers and reporters, Txchnologist articles and op-eds discuss technology and innovation’s impact on modern day society. Through this vehicle, GE is able to drive conversation in the space and strengthen its position as an industry thought leader.

Another approach is to provide an outlet or resource that allows consumers to relate better to, or learn from, a brand. Both Intel and PepsiCo have heavily relied on this strategy, lending to the success they’re now seeing nearly three years after kicking off their respective initiatives. Intel’s Creators Project was developed to support new and emerging artists in music, film and design. Run by Creative Director David Haroldsen, the Project produces videos, releases albums, and builds stages for bands, among other things – all in the hopes of showing younger generations how technology enables them to reach larger audiences and celebrate creative expression.

PepsiCo, on the other hand, dedicates about 10% of its digital media spend working with startups during their nascent stages, believing that early investment in these highly innovative companies will lead to valuable business partnerships down the road. PepsiCo Beverages’ Global Head of Digital Shiv Singh tells Crain’s, “We decided to formalize a relationship, to really think about how to bring infrastructure to supporting startups, helping them help us.” Singh likened the relationship to a venture capital firm, but without the need for a checkbook. Startups benefit primarily from PepsiCo’s guidance on things like monetization strategies and marketing insights. PepsiCo team members co-locate incubator spaces, sponsor key events and broaden media relationships. In turn, these startups help develop PepsiCo’s credibility in the social and digital spaces.

Both Intel and PepsiCo have hit plenty of speed bumps before achieving the results they are seeing today. The panelists were also quick to underscore the importance of ongoing measurement. Data and findings from focus groups, website traffic, and attendance at sponsored events are critical to recalibrating program strategy where needed and helping to secure increased budget, time and credibility.

Watch BRITE ’13’s “Unconventional Marketing Investments” to learn more about how PepsiCo and Intel go beyond traditional marketing tactics to strengthen consumer engagement.

Visit Public Radio Exchange for full episodes of “The Unconventionals,” a PJA Radio Production with academic sponsor The Center for Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School.

BY NANDITA RAY

What Can You Learn from a Chief Big Ass?

October 26, 2012

The Unconventionals: Episode 1: Big Ass Fans' CEO Carey Smith“My first impression, when I heard of the company,” notes a current Big Ass Fans employee, “is that I would never work for this company in my life.” A bold name does hold some risks, even for a company that makes gigantic industrial fans. CEO Carey Smith found, however, that his decision to commit to the name yielded tremendous rewards.

Mike O’Toole, President of PJA Advertising + Marketing, talks with Smith in the first episode of PJA’s new radio show, The Uncoventionals, which our Center on Global Brand Leadership is proud to be sponsoring.

In a wonderful and frank conversation, CEO Smith talks about:

  • How the name was inspired by listening to the customer
  • How it differentiated the company’s communications in a traditionally bland industry
  • How it created a purpose that drives his tribe of nearly 300 employees to live up to this moniker, with a focus on R&D to build the best fans possible

As Smith notes, “it peaks interest, but that isn’t building a business…. It has, though, given us an opportunity to build a company that is substantial.” It starts with the name, but it can’t stop there.

Listen to Carey Smith for insights that you can apply to your business.

Subscribe to The Unconventionals podcast on iTunes as we help support upcoming shows on IdeaPaint, Relay Rides, Dollar Shave Club, and Converse.

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