KND TV – Interview with Gen Y Marketing Expert

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Creatively transcribed and ‘edited’

KND Digital: Welcome to the Innovators Series on KND TV. Today, we are joined by Adam Penberthy from Think Fresh. He’s an expert in youth marketing and advertising. So Adam, tell us about Fresh.

Adam: Basically, Fresh is a youth ad agency. We work on specific youth focused campaigns that connect and engage the sub 30’s.

The majority of the work we’re engaged in is digital projects. We do a lot of work with social media to optimise campaigns and create buzz with the youth demographic.

KND Digital: How did you get into this?

Adam: I started when I was 22 and I’m 27 now. It started with just me in my bedroom; the table next to my bed, my phone and laptop, and a pile of business cards. That’s kind of where I started from.

KND Digital: Quite different from what most young lads do in the bedroom.

Adam: (Laughing)

KND Digital: A bit more productive.

Adam: Yeah, a little bit more productive.

KND Digital: You talk about engagement and entertainment. What’s the difference and can you have one without the other?

Adam: Yes and no. A message that’s telling us not to drink and drive or speed or take drugs – those are social-based messages. It’s very hard to entertain and still try to be comical in that space. We have to come up with other ways to engage, so yes and no.

It’s ideal in many instances to try and merge the lines between entertainment and engagement. And, certainly I think social media in many instances has really provided us a platform to be able to create entertaining and engaging content, which is obviously relevant to this demographic.

KND Digital: There is a lot of noise in the marketing space and young people are pretty good filtering it out, we’re all are. But what is it that catches their eye?

Adam: Creative content, stuff which is a little bit left of center, stuff that sits outside of the box. Its physical experiences or what we call ‘experiential marketing’ – campaigns that give people a physical experience with a brand or an idea or a lifestyle or a position. I think Red Bull is a really classic brand for doing good experiential marketing, whether it’s sponsoring a major music festival or little mini’s with the girls giving out Red Bulls. That’s a really good example of experiential marketing and that’s one of the key opportunities for brands wanting to connect with young people.

It’s looking a little bit left of center and moving away from the traditional TV, press, radio and looking at these more progressive forms of communication. Whether it’s experiential or whether it’s digital, things that give people a physically positive experience with a brand or brand message is where it’s heading.

KND Digital: You seem to be infiltrating society by influencing people through their peers rather than just blasting messages at people.

Adam: Yeah, absolutely! I think MySpace is a classic example for allowing brands to come in and put up posters if you like, all over people’s backgrounds and change their themes. It was all of a sudden, ‘Coca Colarised’.

And the brands, unfortunately copped a lot of flack for doing that. It pushed people away from a controlled environment, which is MySpace to media like Facebook.

I think with youth marketing at its core, a brand needs to tread really carefully and can’t go into a kids’ bedroom and plaster the brand all up over the wall like it would 25, 30 years ago.

Now we have to become more tactical. We need to reach people via their peers. We need to create really positive experiences for young guys and girls, whether it’s a music festival, event or just physically giving them product like a tasting in the streets.

We need creative content to break through the clutter. You mentioned clutter before. The average 20-year old walking around the streets of Brisbane today is exposed to about 130,000 messages on an annual basis. That’s 130,000 messages that are being slammed down the throats of them and their peers. Not messages like the Dick Smith ads or like a real estate ad or whatever it might be. A hundred and thirty thousand messages are targeted specifically at this demographic. So we need to think differently to break through that clutter.

KND Digital: So, to get this cut-through, you’ve done some pretty radical campaigns in the past. Can you tell us about one of those that has either gone really right or very wrong?

Adam: We’ve done things like bought old Combi Vans and turned them into recording studios and put them in major events around Queensland. Then we’ve set up tents outside schools and told kids if they don’t book their accommodation for schoolies sooner rather than later, they could end up sleeping in a tent at schoolies.

We’ve been chased by the police many times doing different stunts for clients and we’ve been applauded by our peers in the industry for the stuff we’ve done as well.

KND Digital: With KND, everything we do is very measurable because it’s all on the web. How do you measure a campaign like a recording van?

Adam: Yeah, exactly. It’s something which is really, really difficult and it’s a shift from the marketer’s mindset as well. All of a sudden we can’t give a physical dollar return on what this is going to produce. We’ll quite often preface the projects we do, if it’s an experiential campaign, with ‘this could work really well’, or ‘this could be a complete disaster’.

We can’t determine which way it’s going to go until we start getting our hands dirty. Some brands are more likely to take those risks because they see the value for the brand.

To measure a campaign like pimping a Combi and throwing in a recording studio inside it was about the amount of kids that physically came through and experienced it. But, I think beyond all that, to see the reactions and having someone there saying, “What was that like?” And you know, seeing these smiling faces from kids saying, “You know it was really, really cool.”

They get to show their friends that they’re up on this big TV outside the recording studio. That was, I think, really the true measure of the campaign success.

KND Digital: How do you use the Internet these days? It’s probably even changed since the start of the year.

Adam: It’s been really interesting. If you look at social networks, I think this is phenomenal. More users connect to Facebook via mobile rather than computer. I think we’re seeing a shift in the way media is being accepted and that’s the beauty of what you fellas at KND are doing. You created a business that is not only across the standard desktop computers, but mobile devices and social media as well. And, I think that’s really where the market’s heading and starting to penetrate.

KND Digital: There are a lot of stats on the number of people that sit and watch TV while they’re on Facebook, on their phone. I guess that’s why you’re seeing a lot of Twitter feeds, etc, across the screen now – engaging people on a number of levels.

Adam: And, for traditional media they need to. They need to be prevalent across, not just the square TV that sits in the lounge room. They need to be on the person’s mobile phone, on the Internet, they need to be in the magazine. They need to own that entire suite, make it a full 360 package.

We’re starting to see that more and more, like on The Block, the TV show that I think was on channel 9 just recently – a classic example of this defragmentation of media at large. So it wasn’t just a TV show, it became informational on the web, a magazine, and all these extra stuff.

KND Digital: OK, some tips for small business – what are some of the simplest things that you can do with social media?

Adam: I think the first thing you need to do is address why you need social media, which is a critical component. If you haven’t got a strong reason why you’re entering that space then probably don’t. The other component of that is if you’re not doing it with the full gusto that it requires, again, don’t consider it if you haven’t got the time or resources to commit to it.

I heard a guy speak just recently. He said social media is like spinning plates. You just need to give a gentle touch continually to make sure that the plates keep spinning. I think that’s really a good analogy for how social media best works. It’s about giving it small bursts of little spins often.

If a brand appeals to a youthful market, sure use the Facebook fanpages – create custom applications that sit within the Facebook walls that engage the demographic and the customers there targeting. Give them added value experiences with their brand.

If you want to promote a service or the business is a bit more ‘how-to’, use YouTube videos. They are absolutely fantastic! YouTube videos show us everything from how to sew button on to how to make a lemon meringue. So I think, it’s about using the media to fit your business and brand and really understanding how your brand could be bolstered and boosted by using social media.

KND Digital: You are known for your speaking engagements. Is this a sort of thing you talk about?

Adam: Yeah, most of the speaking engagements that I’m called to do more often now than in previous years revolve around digital trends and social media and the use of digital to engage young people. The other side of it is just engagement at large – what do we do to connect and engage.

KND Digital: Well, thanks Adam!

Adam: Yeah thanks!

KND Digital: Thanks very much. You’ve got a really interesting business and you’re doing some amazing things. And, you’re one of the only people I know that working this space and it’s no wonder that your business is growing from strength to strength.

You can find Adam at thinkfresh.net.au or adampenberthy.com.

Thanks for watching KND TV. This is the Innovators series where we talk to innovators in the web industry. You can also find us on knd.com.au or subscribe to the podcast on the iTunes store.

About the author

Chris Garrett is an experienced information architect, online marketing specialist and director at KND. His knowledge is based on years of industry experience in taking online application ideas to reality across a broad range of industries.

KND are digital professionals with over 10 years in the business. We specialise in web, cloud and mobile apps, eMarketing and SEO strategy, servers, hosting and design. We work closely with our clients to achieve successful outcomes. Call us today 1300 228 100 or email enquiries@knd.com.au to discuss your next project.

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