Rudy Fernandez: In part two of my conversation with Pete Heid, he talks about a really cool internal process called collaborative journalism. We talk about stuff like fried chicken, pool floats and how to collaborate with younger team members and to prove it, he brings in a couple of younger team members to help him answer some questions. Welcome to Marketing Upheaval
Earcon: You’re listening to Marketing Upheaval from Creative Outhouse.
Rudy: So we both acknowledged, you know, production type of first you need to be creative and wait groups or work together. The role of PR agencies, he’s ad agencies. When was the point when you sort of dawned on you, oh, Shit’s changing.
Pete Heid: Yeah, it’s funny you asked that question. But I was at another agency and we were coming up with ideas and I remember the creative director said, I want ideas that um, don’t feel like advertising. So we came up with those ideas and then when the client saw them, they just were ready to accept those ideas from a traditional advertising agency. And even though the ideas were sounding, you know, they definitely worked. They just weren’t ready to do that. And I don’t even know if we really knew how to sell the work. Cause it’s like one thing to come up with the idea. It’s another thing to tell. Well how do you sell it? How do you get people to talk about it? That’s a whole nother thing. And how do you find the right, you know, it’s not just finding the right idea, it’s, it’s almost like telling the right story at the right time and the right channels and the right channels.
Pete: So all those things when they come together, it’s really cool. In fact, we do something here we call collaborative journalism and it acts just like a, almost like a traditional newsroom, but we have it for different brands. So like one of our clients, they want this kind of work will form this um, sort of group where it’s account people and strategy people and creatives and we all get in the room and we just talk about different topics that are related to that field. So if it’s in the food industry, there is a topic about food or there’s a trend, we’ll bring it up. Or if there’s something in say, pop culture that’s relevant, we’ll bring that up and then we’ll create things to talk about or stories to tell. We find these stories within the brand and we do that once a week and then we pitch them to the client.
Pete: And that’s where that proactive thinking comes about. And you’d be surprised how much really good content comes out of these meetings. Billable. Well, I think there’s a certain level and the investment that has to happen, but at the other end of it, you do have to get the client to pay for some of that. Sure. So if they’re buying into this like collaborative journalism model, they, they, uh, have to offer some level of, uh, of investment themselves. Um, so I think it Kinda goes both ways, but it also means that we can’t just sit in a room and talk about ideas. We have to at the end of the day say, Oh, and through this, uh, you know, weekly Kojo segment, we call it Kojo. Um, we’re going to come up with eight pieces of content a month. I’m just making that up. Yeah. So it’s written into the contract that we have to come up with certain amounts, uh, a certain amount of content, uh, so that it’s not just us thinking out and, you know, thinking of ideas and nothing ever, um, happens.
Pete: It’s just ideas. No, these are, this turns into something, you know, it turns into something like a, like a video or an infographic or, or maybe even a TV spot who knows what it is. But, um, it’s a great way to really dissect a brand and understand a brand. And what happens is we bring all kinds of people into that room so that, you know, it might be somebody who is an expert in food or animals or government policy across health or crisis. Um, but when they’re mixed with an account person and a creative and a producer, stuff happens in that room and it’s fun to watch it happen.
Rudy: I’d love to sit in on one. Because there’s so much overlap now between ad agency, and PR agencies. Do you ever run into situation where you have a client who, let’s say as an ad agency, do you ever do stuff that steps on the ad agency’s toes and vice versa?
Pete: Oh yeah. Yes. That happens. You know, sometimes it’s, you have an idea and you’re playing in their sandbox and you know, the client will tell you to separate and make sure you don’t step in their sandbox. I think I’m using the right phrase. That’s fine, I get it. But sometimes you, you work together and come up with something that you couldn’t have come up by yourself. And I have examples for both, but I think it’s, you know, just by nature, creative people get competitive, especially when it’s, you know, the PR agency in the Ad Agency in the same room together. Because at the end of the day, it’s an idea that gets produced and who puts their name on it? Who gets the credit for it? So, you know, there’s a reason for that. But clients aren’t, they don’t care where the idea comes from anymore. They’re going to bring all their, all their agencies together in a room and they’re going to give them an assignment.
Pete: And the person that comes up, or the agency that comes up with the best idea, they’re going to do that idea. And you know, everyone’s going to be involved to make it happen. So I found that it’s better to not fight it, but to actually work with other agencies to make it happen. Because at the end of the day, it’s a product that you’re all got to live with and be happy with. And that’s kind of what the clients want now. And that’s what they need.
Rudy: What do you see happening in the next five years or so that excites you and what do you see that scares you? Well, let me start with what scares me. First of all, my age, I’m getting older and we’re in a creative field. So you know, you think young, you gotta, you know, you be young, but you know, you can’t be young forever.
Pete: So what I do is I surround myself with really smart young people who are more talented than I am. And know more about technology and up and coming trends. So when I, when you’re part of that environment and it’s, you become younger and feel younger and, you know, I’m always looking at pop culture. I watch a lot of TV, um, and I read a lot and those things are so important to figure out what’s happening. I do it because it fills my soul, but I also do it because it’s part of my job. Also, those young people, uh, they may feel far for you and give you a job. Right. You be nice to people and…
Rudy: Uh yeah. I noticed this too early on in my career in an ad agency where it was a lot, there was a lot more ageism, I think, than now. I saw what happened to the older people and yeah, I always thought there was a time limit on this. So far I haven’t hit it. Nobody wants a walrus coming in and saying, “let me tell you how we did it in my day”.
Pete: I mean, yes, I tell stories. I’m guilty as charged, but, um, I look to hear what they have to say. And really what I like to do is walk into a room and ask questions. And you know, if you do that with young people, they’ll know that you’re invested in them. And I truly want to hear what their ideas are or what their point of view is. In fact, I remember, uh, one of my guys, we were on a shoot and you know, there’s like 10 people around and they all look at me and they’re like, what do you want to do? And I was like, I dunno, what do you want to do? And I turned to my guy and he’s like, you want my opinion? I was like, yeah. And he was so impressed with that. And I, and I, I feel like kind of bringing the younger people into the decision making processes so important because their take on it, they’re not as jaded as us actually. So, and they’re fearless. Yeah. You know, so they’re not afraid to say what might be a stupid idea or what you might think be a stupid idea. But it ended up being actually quite breakthrough.
Rudy: So that’s the key to having any successful team is give people ownership.
Pete: Yeah, no, true. It is. And that keeps them vested in it will keep them wanting to work and stay at the company.
Rudy: And the ideas get better. When you turn to your editor and say, I need you, you are in creative input or you turn to your engineer or you know, your, your younger team, then the idea is just get better.
Pete: Absolutely. You know, we talked about what, what scares us. Also it’s, it’s trying to keep up with those trends and getting too caught up in what the latest technology is. And the next thing you know, you’re trying to create an app. I mean that’s not what you’re trying to do. That’s not how you come up with an idea. And what, what I fear is that, you know, trying to come up with making sure you’re, you’re up with the latest trends and you know, gets in the way of the actual idea. So having enough space to actually come up with the big idea and not getting caught up in, okay, am I using this new technology or, um, you know, is there this new thing that, I read about last week in that blog, uh, you know, forget that. What is the idea first? And then maybe the way you express it comes through new technology, but it can’t drive the idea, cannot drive the idea. So focus on the insight, focus on the idea and then let it come through with technology. So, you know, uh, we’ve done, uh, this is work that was done in one of the other Edleman offices, but everything from recreating the Taco Bell chime with Big Ben, we actually kind of programmed that sound so that when big Ben went off, it kind of morphed into a, um, a Taco bell ring, which I found fascinating. It was based on technology and it was just an interesting take on it. Edelman just launched the Taco Bell Hotel. Yes. Yeah. Called The Bell and it sold out. Uh, you know, they’re, they’re all filled up, but that kind of thinking is so refreshing. It was a pop up. Yeah. Pop Up Restaurant, a hotel, you know, for Real Taco Bell fans and you know, you have everything from the Taco Bell Pool floats to the menu items.
Pete: They were sauce packets. Yeah. To sauce packets. Yeah. A we did that. We just recently did that for Cracker Barrel who launched fried chicken. And the funny thing is we came up with this idea of doing a pool float and we’re like, fried chicken pool floats. They don’t exist yet. Let’s make one. So that’s a trend that’s happening right now. Anyway. Um, what excites me about, about it is the same stuff I just mentioned, the possibilities that technology brings and this new generation, yeah. They can come up with those ideas because they’re, you know, it’s part of who, who in what they are. You know, like when VR just came out, we were working with one of our clients, Yamaha and we came up with this cool idea based on a truth that people couldn’t just come in and try a waiver on her. Cause once you part it out on the water, the test drive, it’s not new anymore. It’s not like a car. You can’t do that. Uh, so we did a virtual test drive. You could put on VR goggles, get on the unit and we filmed an actual ride and one of the units and we did actually multiple units because each experiences it’s different. Um, and they put on the VR goggles and they can ride around. And it was a, it was a really interesting and got me a little nauseous, which is kind of cool cause it’s so real, you’re like in it. But that’s an example of how we use technology to solve a real business problem. And those kinds of things really, really excite me. I’m, one of my guys was telling me about something called Sonic advertising where we’re starting to think about sort of the pneumonic device around how we use sound in advertising so that you instantly think about that brand in a certain way.
Pete: Even when the spot starts, before any words are uttered, that music evokes a certain feeling and it opens you up to that messaging.
Rudy: We called them Earcons.
Pete: Right? Yeah. It’s funny cause he was telling me that and I was like, well that sounds like sort of like an earcon. He’s like, what’s an earcon? Everything from that Taco Bell Ring to, you know, whatever it might be a jingle or a guitar riff or you know, a tagline that it’s set a certain way. It’s, it’s fun to rely on devices like that.
Rudy: Yeah. this show has an earcon.
Pete: What is it? Can you, can you recreate it?
Rudy: Yeah, I’ll play it. I’ll play it right now for everyone else, but I’ll play it for you later. Here it is.
Earcon: You’re listening to Marketing Upheaval from Creative Outhouse.
Pete: That’s awesome.
Rudy: And you want to bring your team in here? And so you’re actually proving what you said to me about getting, getting the smarter young people in the room to answer questions. So why don’t you guys introduce yourselves?
Andy Hu: Andy Hu, Art Director at Edelman.
Brandon Brown: And this is Brandon Brown, Senior Designer here.
Rudy: How long have you guys been in the business? In the marketing, PR, creative business.
Brandon: Uh, I’ve been doing this for about eight years. Creative professionally
Andy: For me about five years. Six years.
Rudy: All right. And where do work before here?
Brandon: Before it was full time freelance.
Andy: I worked this consulting firm.
Rudy: What kinds of things do you see changing in terms of the creative, your assignments, how things are produced?
Brandon: Yeah, I think everyone is starting to move into the direction of video as like the priority way to market essentially everything since kind of like the rise of social media kind of starting with first like text, that was fine. Like things like Twitter and then we started moving into like images only, maybe like a little video here and there. But like what happens with societies I’m noticing is that we’re, we can’t really like stay on place. So like now we’re in video and it’s kind of like this thing where we’ve just become greedy. So like we have to keep trying to figure out like what that next thing is. But I’ve just noticed right now like video seems to be like the biggest thing and every company has to use video on some form or fashion.
Pete: So essentially we’re all ADD.
Brandon: I mean we went from one minute, no worry. Eight seconds. Yeah.
Pete: I mean I find it interesting now that we’re measuring video content and when we look at performance, it’s like if we get them the first eight seconds we’re killing it and it’s like a 45 second video.
Brandon: Like the thing of a, was it like a vine or like either like now, like there’s like what like TikTok, like those types of apps where they’re very quick. Um, almost Instagram stories and Instagram stories were kind of like doing it to ourselves really. Like, no one is killing our productivity or like, uh, our mental capacity, but ourselves, like, you know, the advertisers are the ones that are really making it harder for people to stay focused on something longer than 30.
Rudy: We’re all still kind of – people choose the path of least resistance. My, my wife has got a car and like most cars that has a novel that you have to read to just know how to turn on the windshield wipers. Yeah. And we couldn’t figure out how to change the clock because it’s designed by an engineer instead of somebody who actually talks to people. And so we, uh, watched the video of it. Yeah. Cause you can find a YouTube video on how to do everything.
Brandon & Andy: He probably didn’t even have to watch the whole video. You skipped over that halfway
Rudy: confession. I’m watching Netflix shows like that when it gets to like the relationship….
Brandon: Yeah, I’ve done that to ourselves.
Andy: But that’s where like the skip intro comes in now
Rudy: I, I’m guilty of that. So what do you think is, uh, what do think is going to end up, where does that end?
Brandon: Honestly, I don’t know. I mean truthfully I feel like, like it’s, it’s Kinda like looking at cds and then going, where did we go from here? You know what I mean? No one ever thought MP3 would be something that would come along the line. So when you sit, when you look at Mp3, now you’re going, okay, so where do we go from here? It’s feels like it’s impossible there, but there’s always something that someone…..
Rudy: There is! You know, I was just hearing a, on the way here, they were talking about, um, when antibiotic antibiotics had been around for a while and like early 1960s, someone had some surgeon general I guess had said that we’re nearing the end of diseases. I forget in the 1800s, the head of the patent office considered closing it because he said, well, there’s nothing else that can be invented. You know, you just, you can’t sometimes imagine what it’s like. But I’m going to tell you this long time ago, it was a show called Max Headroom back in the 80s. The first half of the first season was great and in the writers quit. But my point is they pictured this dystopian future where there were screens everywhere and so stuff would come, people would stop and just stare at the screens and they didn’t have advertising. They had things called Blip verts that were three seconds and they bombarded you with information. And actually one of the first episodes is people were exploding when they saw it.
Brandon: It is like after a while you won’t need a commercial. It’d be like, you know, if Pizza Hut wants you to buy a pizza, they’ll create a soundbite that is maybe less than three seconds long, where every time you hear it, you’re, unless you want a pizza hut. So like if you’re walking down the street, have you heard about this? If you’re walking down the street and you hear like a Oh case in point, Taco Bell, right? They already have one. If you think about it, right? So if you’re walking down the street..There aren’t any billboards, there’s nothing there. All you hear is <dong>. Now you want Taco Bell, you didn’t watch anything, you didn’t see anything. But now you’re thinking about that, you know, Chalupa or you know, whatever it may be, and it’s crazy that like, that’s where like I guess advertising or PR communications can go to, because from there it’s like, okay, how do we adapt to that? That’s like the smallest scale of minimalism in terms of advertising because it doesn’t feel like it doesn’t feel like advertising. Yeah.
Rudy: Yeah. Which actually is, it’s, it’s an evolution of a thing we used to call an Earcon, which we, you know, the, one of the most famous one at the time was the Sprint, the pin drop. It was like they had to set up a pin drop or Busch.
Brandon: Or Red Robin, “Yum”. Just hear “yum” and, you’re like burgers. I want like, I want Red Robin.
Rudy: So that it would be interesting. Where else you can use that. Like just a quick blip vert of some sort.
Pete: Max Headroom. I haven’t thought about that.
Rudy: I really appreciate you taking the time. Thanks. Thanks for taking the time.
Pete: Yeah, it’s been great. I think it’s important to just talk about what we do because you know, we get into the trenches and we’re working on stuff and it’s fun to just kind of step back and analyze kind of what we’re doing here. It gives us kind of purpose and helps us sort of, uh, maybe if we’re stuck in a Rut, uh, realize that, you know, I kind of rise above it and see the big picture.
Rudy: And I think it’s my contention that what we do is a lot more important than we, we’ve often let ourselves to believe because societies run by the stories we tell. And I’m, that’s not my theory. Somebody smarter than me and we are the ones who help dictate what that is not dictate. We were the ones who helped structure those stories so that we can have sort of mass cooperation.
Pete: Yeah. And to add to that, um, you know, I’ve seen this in award shows, especially where it’s advertising with a purpose and it’s purpose driven advertising, I guess you call it. We’re seeing that, you know, more and more of that stuff is being awarded and it’s just evidence that brands are looking to not just sell a product but do some good in the world. And you know, it might be cleaning up an ocean or it might be a billboard that provides power to a third world country town. You know, it’s things like that where the, you know, the advertising that you create actually makes a difference and helps people in a way that doesn’t just, it’s not self-serving. And by creating a good feeling BD, that’s what branding really needs to do now is just create a good feeling. And people, you know, give, give consumers a good feeling because if it makes them feel good or makes them feel positive about something, it gives them a positive outlook on life. And maybe it makes them want to do something good for someone else. And knowing that we’re not just out there selling, say fried chicken or, which is important, people need to eat. But we’re also trying to do some good in the world too.
Rudy: and tell people what you, what you’re about. Not just what you do. Thanks. Thanks again, Pete. Thanks guys. Yeah, it was a pleasure. Thank you.
Rudy: Hey, thanks for listening to Marketing Upheaval from Creative Outhouse. If you want to see some of the creative work that Edelman’s doing, visit edelman.com/creative for show notes, previous episodes and previews to upcoming episodes, visit creativeouthouse.com and if you liked this podcast, please give it five stars and subscribe and share it with others. And that’s it for this episode. And remember if the current state of marketing has got you confused. Don’t worry. It’s all changing. See ya.
To listen to Part 1 of our interview with Pete, click: https://creativeouthouse.com/2019/08/15/pete-heid-on-building-a-modern-creative-department-and-switching-to-pr/(opens in a new tab)