Our Marketing Blog

Our industry is ever-changing. Get insights and perspective from our experts as we share our knowledge and experience on how to successfully navigate the marketing landscape.

AMP Agency Wins 4 Hatch Awards

AMP Agency took home 4 awards last night at the 60th annual Hatch awards that celebrates creative excellence in New England. AMP won bronze awards for the below work: “Eastern Bank’s Color & Capital for Good closing Boston’s wealth Gap” Work for Good Category “Facebook’s Gaming Just Like Us” Film Category “Stop & Shop’s On Your Terms”Design Category AMP also won a Merit award for work done with RXBAR.  Be sure to check out AMP’s article featured in the Boston Globe that looks at the virtual realities of advertising and how flexibility led to a creative growth spurt in marketing in 2020.

How Social Media Saved Us & Brands in 2020

Despite a difficult year, we made it through 2020 with the help of playful distractions like memes, dance crazes, and viral challenges. Oftentimes, brands want to tap into these cultural phenomenons in order to humanize their voice on social media. Marketers frequently question, 'How does a trend become a viral success?' and, 'Who creates these trends?'. Let's take a look at the various key players that come together to create these trends and learn how your brand can capitalize on them and join the conversation. The Innovator If we think of social media challenges holistically, the template is always the same: innovators create the idea, influencers make it popular, and the rest of the social community joins the trend. By definition, an innovator is ‘a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products’ In every viral equation, there needs to be an innovator to help spark an idea/challenge.  The innovator is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle when it comes to viral trends. For example, Renegade creator Jalaiah Hermon had the most prominent dance on the internet in 2020, but most users didn't even know who she was. Unfortunately, content creators are often not given credit for their original ideas and are seemingly left in the dust. However, that isn't always the case; skateboarder Nathan Apodaca quickly rose to fame when his Ocean Spray video went viral, and others recreated the video with their own flare.    The Influencer Spark Influencers help set the standard of "cool" within the digital world and help push the innovators' ideas in front of fans. TikTok influencer Charli D'Amelio was named ‘C.E.O.’ of the different dances similar to the dance craze Renegade, which she popularized.  If the concept is unique and interesting, other influencers and celebs will begin to jump onto the new craze. Once a trend becomes popular, users recreate the template with small differences while always keeping the overall idea the same. During the pandemic, the ‘Don't Rush Challenge' became very popular amongst all different audiences - make-up artists, celebrities, students, and more. Less than a month later, the ‘Wipe it Down Challenge’ went viral; both of these concepts had the exact same template with small variations.  Brands and Trends Being authentic on social media will encourage consumers to follow, engage, and ultimately purchase products, assuming that's the end goal. Consumers align their personal values to those of brands. Once brand values are established, a fundamental building block for brands is to showcase their personality through their content – tapping into cultural trends is a great way to humanize themselves. From a brand perspective, capitalizing on viral trends shouldn't be a hard selling point but instead, a chance to connect with your audience and showcase your brand's personality. In the summer of 2020, Twitter began to flag misleading messages about COVID-19 and the 2020 Election with 'This claim is disputed' warnings. After the Election, the disputed claim Tweet type evolved into a popular trend on the platform. Brands like Oreo, Burger King, and Maruchan saw an opportunity to participate in the pop culture conversation and added humor to the political trend. Viral memes are also a great way to highlight the brands' wit and humor. Just For Men participated in the ‘How it Started vs. How it's Going,’ and it showcased the brand's growth, wittiness, and personality. A brand can even use pop culture to sell a product when it feels native to the platform. For example, Invisalign used a soundbite from a popular viral video to help promote its product.  All things considered, this doesn't mean that every viral trend is an opportunity for a brand to enter the conversation. Sometimes jumping into a conversation that isn't authentic to your brand will feel forced by consumers; for example, in 2014, DiGiorno accidentally used the hashtag ‘#WhyIStayed,’ which was about domestic violence. Prior to your brand joining a viral trend, consider the following questions: 1) Will this feel authentic to the brand's audience? 2) Can this help support the brand's values and develop the brand's personality? 3) What value will this content add to the social media space for your brand? 4) Is this the appropriate social channel for the brand? 5) Is this something you should test into first before diving in? And lastly, remember to have fun and tag the innovator to give them credit for their work!

Consumers Expectations For Brand Leadership Has Changed

Jacob Steinfield, Assistant Account Executive May 7, 2020 An acronym soup for breakfast: COVID, WCS, and KPIs It does not look like our distancing days are going to go anywhere soon, but even when mobility comes back – and we rise dramatically from the couch – consumer relationships with brands will have been transformed. There's some debate over habit-forming timelines. Conventionally, 21 days was the magic number needed for permanent changes to occur (based on research published in Maxwell Maltz's 1960 bestseller Psycho-Cybernetics), but more contemporary researchers have found the length closer to 66 days. Either way, our COVID journey will certainly surpass both, and we have undoubtedly developed new attitudes and conditions that will remain as the world slides back into normalcy. This is especially true in consumer expectations for brands as embedded community leaders, given the instantaneous pivot to solemn commitments to employees & customers in response to this emergency. There is a new standard for purpose from these entities: The uncountable statements of “togetherness” and ventures for collective healing will not be allowed to merely dissipate in the post-COVID era (which will not be such a binary distinction either). Learning from those who have delivered effectively and creatively in these conditions (see Light, Coors) will be imperative as consumers are more inclined than ever to use their buying power on companies whose actions and values align with their own – and uncommitted to companies who merely shouted for everyone to remember they existed. As Adweek reports from social psychologist Hillary Haley, “[People] don’t just want to be helped, they want to provide help themselves, and they’ll reward brands that act as facilitators.” Take Spotify for example. This week, they launched their Music Relief project, with a new Artist Fundraising feature that gives listeners the option to donate to their favorite artist directly or a relief initiative of their choice. Donations will be matched by Spotify up to $10M, and users are given immense freedom to provide much-needed support. During this time, our client Eastern Bank has also successfully delivered on the values of their long-standing Join Us For Good brand campaign. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have pledged $10 million in aid to those most affected, became founding donors and administrators for the $25 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, and provided pathways for people to join them in giving efforts along the way. The brand has deep roots in local volunteering and service, with this additional leadership making it clear that commitment to their communities is not new or temporary, but endemic to their brand’s DNA.  Brands & marketers must consequently re-calibrate the levers they use to turn communication and brand identity into desired outcomes. This brings us to an important consonant jumble: WCS – What Constitutes Success? Achieving a quantifiable level of success is not a new challenge in the advertising space. The rise of digital marketing made the wide world of impact measurement a much more complicated game. Near infinite opportunities for companies to connect with people, ever-consuming throughout their day, creates a dizzying array of data points to synthesize. No longer is a sales lift or focus group – both limited by bias – the only ways to measure effects. We can see the resonance in real-time with brand recall and changes in buyer habits, and instantly tinker, AB test, and iterate. This can, however, restrict the horizon of our improvement targets in the endless pursuit of immediate incremental benefit. It is important to take a step back from your anchored campaign norms to identify larger potential opportunities, especially as messaging expectations change.   Customers are less motivated than ever by undiluted sales pitches or vague statements of pandemic camaraderie, growingly conditioned against them, and capable of tuning out through ad blockers and nearby alternative devices. Attention needs to be truly earned, and people react positively and strongly to premises that are relevant, important, and authentic to them – especially when those messages are tied to action beyond the advertising or purely-commercial realm.   As The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull reports, “[Leadership] vacuums have often been filled by brands that see social issues as an opportunity to connect with customers — especially younger ones, who want to believe that there’s a right way to spend their money.” While it may be challenging in our current circumstances to rationalize, brands are on the right track trying to compel outcomes that benefit society. In fact, consumers have growingly defined brands themselves by their social practices and philanthropic priorities. Cooperation opportunities are key for marketers to validate brands as forces of communal good, but there is a huge opportunity and need for brands to give more direction in achieving such results. While hope and community belonging are fabulous intentions, the onslaught of purpose-based messaging inundating our timelines and networks with solemn background music often do not give specific, convincing instruction to achieve these goals. This is where marrying commonly-shared desired outcomes to internal metrics of improvement can create business objectives that are sincerely important to the customer – like the aforementioned Coors activation. Coors raised spirits with a unifying metric of donating 500,000 beers, while also focusing on definitive financial impressions by contributing all merchandise profits to COVID relief efforts.  Cause-based marketing may pose difficult questions for ROI, but we can use our skills in translating data-driven insights to make cause-related messages as productive as our commerce-related ones.  To do so, marketers must re-define their KPIs – Key Performance Indicators Good marketers understand that true ROI is based on the lifetime value of your relationship with the customer, and the positive externalities that being in their network entails. To achieve such fruitful relationships, marketing initiatives must find a compelling way to demonstrate not just shared values, but a common purpose, all while facilitating ways to connect the two. Consumers understand that advertising is aimed to drive action, and when that action is one they consider worthy, it creates an association of aligned incentives. Considering the enormous challenges in global health, environmental protection, and human rights, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t be compelled to think favorably of a campaign intentionally designed to improve these worthy outcomes. Converting favorable perception into action can be a difficult task, but brands can ignite such behavior by communicating KPIs that are meaningful to both the company and consumer.  Conveying a measurable definition of success for your civic engagement program helps alleviate public concern about motives. Non-monetary KPIs can also be constructive, such as donated cans of non-perishables, volunteer hours, or shelters built. These not only create attainable goals, but valuable bonds for the company and consumers to work together toward.  To build this new type of relationship with customers, brands often partner with philanthropic organizations that have endemic popular trust. It’s a form of assuaging concerns about the integrity of their efforts. However, with hundreds of brands flooding the market with cookie-cutter COVID-19 responses, such partnerships alone cannot galvanize when consumer individuality is not recognized. Advertising is often powerful because it speaks directly to a specific need, but when a sea-of-sameness permeates throughout, that influence dissipates. To break this mold, AMP helped its client GIANT Food Stores launch the national #MoreForAll campaign, aimed to mitigate panic shopping by spreading direct, actionable instructions and driving awareness through digital conversations. Across media platforms, and with influencer help, local individuals instructed followers on ways to extend the life of their produce and urged them to be considerate of their peers. AMP was able to measure overwhelmingly positive sentiment and engagement, the topic clearly resonating with followers, and GIANT was able to see definitive reductions in over-buying. Even when the COVID-19 era subsides, there is a heightened expectation and opportunity for companies to continue to support communities. Large organizations can use their scale and connections to create value beyond their immediate spheres of influence, and engrain themselves positively into the public consciousness. When normalcy returns, brands should look at the successes of these charitable causes moving forward, and see that ROI can be earned and sustained with marketing that optimizes its positive impact on consumers’ daily lives.  Key Takeaways Brands are increasingly defined by their conduct as community leaders and responses to social needs Leading firms are developing stronger relationships with consumers by empowering buyers to make a philanthropic difference with their spending Cause-marketing is most effective when campaign KPIs are also pertinent to consumer ideals, and messaging clearly illustrates how specific actions by both parties can catalyze an outcome that is mutually rewarding.

Defined by Defiance: How AMP Agency Embodied Naughty this Holiday Season

The holiday season means something different to everybody. For some, it’s about snowball fights with friends and baking cookies with grandma. For others, it’s all about celebrating traditions and spending time with family. And for us at AMP, the holidays are when we as an agency get to show appreciation for our wonderful clients with a gift of our very own creation.  It really has become quite the tradition – using our agency’s creative capabilities to craft something our clients can truly enjoy. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at what we made for our clients in 2018. We feel these custom-made gifts are a great way for us to connect with clients during the holidays in a way that reflects who we are at AMP. But with any good tradition, there comes a time when things need to be shaken up. That’s why instead of crafting a creatively thoughtful gift this year, we decided to do something different; something a smidge outside the box; something a bit, well, naughty. This past holiday, AMP rebranded coal as the hottest gift of the season and sent it to some of our clients on the East Coast. WHEN THINGS WENT “BAD” It all began in the heat of summer. It was mid-July, temperatures were high, and our Boston creative team thought “hey – let’s talk winter.” Because in an agency setting, timing is everything, especially when it comes to the creative process. As a team, we needed to give ourselves enough opportunity to ideate on something people would not only enjoy, but that would stick out to them amongst other gifts they’d receive. That’s why in order to get things right, the first of many brainstorming sessions started five months ahead of the holiday season. During that first brainstorming session, COAL was one of the very first concepts we came up with – although we didn’t envision the luxury branding, bold copy and seamless UX design that came out of this project right from the get-go. We simply liked the idea of elevating something from bad to badass, and we felt that a lump of coal could be a cool place to start. Since we didn’t just want to go with our first thought, so we continued to think up as many festive ideas as we could for our holiday gift. There was talk of Mrs. Claus taking over the season, mention of making a festive video game, and some serious consideration for custom-branded hot sauce. Yet after compiling our ideas into a list as long as Santa’s, COAL still remained at the very top. So we rolled with it. CHISELING AWAY With our concept in place, we knew we needed to capture the essence of COAL in a shareable format. So after lengthy discussions about what COAL truly means and days spent deciphering exactly how we wanted to bring this experience to life, we were ready to begin crafting a brand that would encourage people to “Embody Naughty” at every possible touchpoint. Building out the COAL brand began with pinning first, second and third drafts of logo exploration on a wall for full-scale critiques. From there, we sourced artists in France to craft our COAL resin cubes, tracked down decadent chocolates our clients could devour, built an eCommerce web experience from scratch, captured the look of COAL in black and white photography, and designed the perfect packaging to tie everything together. As everything came to life, we also shot an anthem video that could live on our eCommerce site and across social. Written, directed, filmed and produced entirely in-house, our COAL video took a total of four days to film, but those days were scattered throughout many late nights and lunch breaks. Once final video edits were made and the last caption for the @coal_by_amp Instagram was written, everything was ready to be sent to clients and shared with the world. THE OUTCOME By mid-December, our website was launched, our Instagram was live, and our clients were given the hottest gift of the holiday season as a token of our appreciation. Our full list of deliverables included an anthem video, an “eComm” microsite, a faux Instagram page, and a mailed COAL branded package containing a designed COAL card, a resin coal paperweight, high-end chocolates with an AMP-branded ribbon, and a nice bottle of wine with a black label. All in all, we’re quite proud of this project. Not only was COAL a unique way for us to express our appreciation for our clients, but it illustrates that when you work in a creative environment, sometimes, it’s good to be defiant.  Want to score yourself a spot on the naughty list? Check out all COAL has to offer here.

AMP Agency Named to 2020 Chief Marketer 200 List

We’re honored to announce that AMP Agency was recently named to the 2020 Chief Marketer 200 list. The list highlights the top agencies across the categories of experiential, sports and entertainment, promotion, retail, social media, business-to-business brand engagement, digital, design, business-to-business demand generation, business-to-business experiential and marketing technology. AMP Agency was chosen based on customer testimonials, high caliber and consistent work, case study submissions, innovative and creative executions, and bold and inspiring concepts and ideas that help propel the industry forward.  See what our CEO, Gary Colen, had to say about AMP’s inclusion on the list.  “We’re proud to attribute our recognition on the Chief Marketer 200 list to our continual commitment to offering our clients data-led total experience management across digital and physical, affecting change at every touchpoint in the customer journey. Our focus on creating highly differentiated, data-driven audience building capabilities has consistently proven to help brands and retailers scale consumer engagement and deliver meaningful results to the bottom line.” Check out the full Chief Marketer 200 list here: https://cm200.chiefmarketer.com/?q=winners

AMP Agency Client Eastern Bank Wins 3 MarCom Awards

We’re proud to announce that our courageous campaign work with Eastern Bank won three MarCom Awards today, alongside their other agency partner, Skyword. Congratulations to our client, Eastern Bank, on this honorable distinction. Gold Award for Social Engagement Platinum Award for Social Campaign Platinum Award for Social Ad Campaign The awards honor Eastern Bank's commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community and their Good Votes campaign. When a Massachusetts ballot question during midterm elections threatened the rights of our transgender community, we knew we had to take action. The Good Votes campaign was about fighting for and giving a voice to the marginalized. It was about protecting the human rights of our transgender friends, family, and neighbors in Massachusetts. And it was about getting the New England community to join Eastern Bank for good. We're proud to say, it did exactly that.   The campaign garnered 11,300+ reactions, comments and shares on social leading to a 72% lift in engagement rate. The results showed in market as we well with 68% of MA voters voting to uphold transgender rights and MA voters casting a record high of 3MM votes with a 60% voter turnout. Appreciation from Eastern Bank’s audience was evident in social comments too – "In a time when literally every "sage" in the industry would tell a brand not to "choose sides," thank you for knowing the difference between issues of human rights and dignity and merely debatable options. Your brand's staunch visible backing of LGBTIA concerns is noted and appreciated time and time again" –Social user You can learn more about the campaign here:  https://joinusforgood.com/category/good-in-action/good-votes/ Or you can check it out on the MarCom winners list at here.  Again, congratulations to Eastern Bank. We are incredibly proud to be your partner.

Good Deeds & Cool Tees: A Look into the AMP Agency Volunteer & Giving Program

The year was 2018. Meghan Markle married into the British Royal Family, Mamma Mia 2! Here We Go Again hit theaters, and AMP Agency kick-started efforts that grew into its Volunteer & Giving Program. It all began when program co-founders Alyssa McBryar and Thalia Rivera Ortiz expressed the desire to start a formal volunteer and giving practice in the AMP Boston office. Met with excitement from executive management, McBryar and Ortiz started working together to source local organizations for AMP to support, set up volunteer and giving opportunities, and engage employees on a monthly basis.  Our program’s first year was well-received by Boston AMPers, finding successes in both in-office and out-of-office efforts. Since then, our Volunteer & Giving Program has expanded to AMP offices across the country, unifying our volunteer efforts and establishing them as a strength of our agency.  AMP has donated 535 hours across 19 organizations, helping nearly 12,000 people throughout the country, and counting.  The way it works. In an effort to align with employee values and make the AMP Volunteer & Giving Program more comprehensive and intentional, we’ve established quarterly cause themes based on top causes near and dear to our employees’ hearts. These themes unify efforts nationally and help us measure meaningful impact in the following areas: (Q1) Hunger & Homelessness, (Q2) Sustainability, (Q3) Health, Wellness, and Disabilities and (Q4) Children. So far, so good. As we’re wrapping up the third quarter of the year, we are excited to share the success we’ve seen through our volunteer program – from the number of volunteers who have participated, the lives we have helped, and the impact we’ve had on the planet. Fighting hunger and homelessness. Q1 saw us serve 100 hours across 5 hunger- and homelessness-focused organizations, creating a positive impact on 2,100 people. With Cradles to Crayons, we collectively donated 60 items and helped sort even more clothes and toys in the organization’s warehouse for 142 children in need.  At the Greater Boston Food Bank, we unloaded 4,000+ lbs of food that were then set up in the cafeteria of the Orchard Gardens school so parents & families in need could ‘shop’ for free food. This helped relieve hunger for over 430 adults, children, and seniors. We also helped distribute over 20 Cradles to Crayons ‘kid packs’ filled with essentials to caretakers in the same space. As an in-office effort, we collectively donated 100+ essential items to poor and homeless women and their children through Rosie’s Place.  For the Salvation Army, we donated enough clothes to help 200 people in need.  With FareStart, we packed over 100 lunches and prepared dinners and desserts that were ultimately served to approximately 1,100 people in need through social service and school programs.  Taking care of the planet. Turning our focus toward sustainability in Q2, we volunteered 295 hours at 6 organizations, helping not only 130 people, but the planet as a whole. For the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, we collected 40 special occasion dresses in our office and donated them to the Big Sister’s Dream Dress Drive. Through this program, young girls can go “shopping” for a dress that will make them feel special on big days from Quiceneras to Prom. With the Fenway Park Green Team, we collected over 10 huge bags of recyclables from ballpark patrons between innings, helping to ensure items made it to the recycling instead of the trash or the ground. We helped clean up the Mass Audubon Society nature properties at their Mattapan location. This included trimming back branches from the fence, and filling multiple large bags with trash from the street and the property. As an in-office effort, AMPers took part in a Sustainability Challenge. Throughout the course of a week, we made the commitment to form more sustainable daily habits, like avoiding single-use plastics, using public transit, and turning off our laptops each day. We managed to keep over 500 items out of landfills by using reusable items, saved nearly 50,000 gallons of water by eating over 100 meatless meals, and prevented the emission of over 200 pounds of greenhouse gas by taking alternative transportation. Working with Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, we were able to provide hot, nutritious meals and survival services to low-income families and those experiencing homelessness. As part of Heal the Bay, we worked with over 500 volunteers over the course of an hour to clean up Redondo Beach, removing a total of 130lbs of trash from the shore. Leading happy, healthy lives. For Q3, we pivoted our volunteering efforts toward organizations that focus on bettering health, wellness, and inclusivity in our local communities.  With the Boston Living Center, we prepared and served meals for over 100 local community members living with HIV. At the Ellie Bloom Special Olympics, we helped coach and cheer on 150 Special Olympics participants at various events throughout their big day. Supporting in style. On top of our volunteer program expansion, 2019 also welcomed the debut of our AMP Volunteer t-shirts. Designed by our very own Rick Dias from our LA office, these shirts have been given out to every AMPer who donates their time participating in our program. And to think, we have a whole quarter left to do some good. So far, it’s been nothing short of a fantastic year for our AMP Volunteering & Giving program. While we’ve already seen great success, there’s still so much more we can do. With the final quarter of 2019 left and many more volunteer opportunities on the horizon, we’re excited to see where our efforts take us next. After all, helping our clients is what brings us together. And together, helping our community is what makes us proud to call ourselves AMP Agency.

AMP Agency Makes Adweek 100 Fastest Growing Agencies List

This week,  Adweek debuted its first-ever Adweek 100: Fastest Growing Agencies list. We’re excited to share that AMP made it! Comprised of organizations from around the world, this select list celebrates agencies of all sizes who have achieved significant financial growth over the past three years and whose industry presence is on the rise. Doug Zanger, Adweek senior editor for creativity and agencies, shared, “We are thrilled to be presenting this honor to a wide range of successful agencies covering 21 different disciplines. From full-service to performance, creative consultancies to experiential, we see a very bright future for agencies and this award is a testament to these award winners’ drive and dedication to the industry.”   The Growth That Got Us Here Our growth starts with our people. When our CEO, Gary Colen co-founded AMP in 1994 (headquartered in his garage – true story), we started off as a regional experiential agency focused on engagement with college students and grew to be one of the most respected college activation agencies in the country. Since then, AMP has transformed into an award-winning, digital-first, full-service marketing agency that continues to expand through organic growth and mergers & acquisitions. From our humble beginnings, the agency is now over 300 talented people across our offices in Boston, New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles. We stay tightly connected to our sister agency Adlucent in Austin, TX, a group of 100+ experienced performance marketers that gives us and our partners a competitive edge in ecommerce solutions. The entrepreneurial spirit from our co-founders continues to be a driving force within the agency and fuels our passion to create unconventional ideas that grow brands. That’s why our growth is truly a testament of our people and the platforms created within our company. We’ve been able to attract an amazing staff that’s courageous, collaborative, genuinely curious to explore beyond the status quo and hungry to make a difference. Collectively, we share a continued vision to evolve that keeps us inspired to not only develop new capabilities as an agency, but become a place where marketers can work, learn and lead through many industry transformations. Over the last three years, our development has led to many new strategic partnerships. Gary sums it up best, “Clients come to us because in today’s complex marketing landscape, they need a partner with a radical approach to creativity. We enable small, intensely integrated teams with varied skill sets. Our teams question industry norms, allowing us to connect disparate dots in new, unexpected ways and drive businesses forward.”  Our expansion is not growth for the sake of growth. We’re honing in on the evolution of communication channels, leveraging data and advanced measurement capabilities, designing custom experiences, and applying creativity to everything we do while not forgetting the power of an experiential campaign. We’re excited to continue to create strong, groundbreaking work for our clients, take on new brand partnerships and projects throughout the process, and welcome new talent along the way. Now, We’d Like to Say Thank You Being featured on Adweek's list of the 100 Fastest Growing Agencies as an established mid-sized agency with 20 years in the industry is a great accomplishment. We’re very proud. But more importantly, we’re in this game for our clients and helping them deliver. It’s the trust and confidence these partnerships have put into our capabilities that has catapulted us into the agency we are today, and for that, we could not be more grateful. Thank you to every client who has supported us, both since our founding in 1994 and throughout these past three years. Looking back at how much our agency has grown, we could not be more proud. And when it comes to looking toward where we’re headed, all we can say is: we’re amped.

Tenured Outdoor, Sports, and Lifestyle Creative Lead, Dan Richards Joins AMP Agency Seattle as Group Creative Director

Following a successful four-year stint at Columbia Sportswear, where he led all brand design efforts within marketing, Dan Richards has landed a new role as Group Creative Director at AMP Agency. At Columbia, Richards directed a robust team of designers, project managers, photographers, videographers and production designers, re-designed Columbia’s retail experience, and oversaw many additional seasonal global marketing initiatives. Richards will lead the AMP Seattle office’s creative and production studios, contribute to the agency’s thought leadership, while developing an updated creative approach to new business, and widening the firm’s experiential marketing opportunities.    Richards, who is no stranger to fashion, outdoor and sports lifestyle brands, has already made an immediate impact at AMP Agency - his first assignment was to lead the creative, production and amplification teams throughout the RFP process for an assignment dedicated to Eddie Bauer’s 100th Anniversary, which will be celebrated in 2020. Richards and AMP Agency earned the title of Eddie Bauer’s 100th Anniversary AOR for the 18-month long experiential campaign that will debut in Q4 of 2019.   "We believe brands that design better customer experiences lead the world in business performance,” said Gary Colen, CEO AMP Agency. “Dan’s experience matches perfectly with AMP Seattle’s expertise in creating immersive customer journeys that deliver exceptional brand experiences. His talents are core to heart of AMP Agency and he’s already shown that with team’s recent win of Eddie Bauer’s upcoming 100th Anniversary campaign.”   “I’m thrilled to be a part of the AMP Agency family, which is an incredibly talented team comprised of thinkers, makers and amplifiers, and I’m excited at the chance to build even stronger connections, through experiential marketing, for our clients and their consumers,” said Richards. “It’s already been an amazing experience; within my first month I had the opportunity to work on RFPs and projects for brands including Eddie Bauer, Walmart, PUMA and The UPS Store, which is a wonderful way to establish our client base.”   Throughout his career, Richards has earned a reputation for being a passionate, creative leader who excels at being a swell guy and, in his spare time, an avid birdwatcher. He is equally capable of designing a project from start to finish or directing a team to realize his vision. He leads with enthusiasm and thoughtfulness, creating strategies and outcomes that are bold and unexpected. Richards is also an expert diplomat. Able to broker solutions that satisfy business needs without compromising the intangibles that make design powerful. Former clients of Richards includes: Nike, ESPN, Dr. Martens, Adidas, Starbucks, Target, Columbia Sportswear, Sorel, Keen Footwear, GoLite, Reebok, Microsoft, Camelback, Yakima.

Building Strong Brand Tribes (Inspired by Presenters at SXSW)

Jen Herbert, Senior Strategist at AMP   I haven’t been to Disney World since I was eight, but this year I was fortunate enough to go to South by Southwest (SXSW), which I have now dubbed “Disneyland for Adults.” When I wasn’t busy presenting with the rest of the fierce AMP team for our participation in   YouTube’s SXSW Creative Agency Challenge, or being distracted by the puppies at the Amazon Prime activation and the endless CBD-related samples at the wellness expo, I promise I was putting on my Brand Strategist hat and attending a wealth of panels and keynotes with my colleague and SXSW partner-in-crime, Andie, AMP’s Director of Business Development.   The best part was listening to speakers with such diversity in perspective, and realizing that all of these accomplished individuals offered a unique method for building and strengthening a brand tribe: through social impact, play, internal creativity, and centering the customer experience around a singular emotional benefit. While we’ve been hearing about “brand community” for some time, “brand tribe” is a relatively new term in Marketing, yet it’s important because it denotes a much deeper relationship between brand and customer. While a member of a brand community need only participate on occasion, perhaps via a purchase or a ‘like’ on Instagram, a member of a brand tribe wholly believes in that brand. Connection with that brand becomes an outward expression of one’s identity to the rest of the world. Brand tribe members wear merchandise, create user-generated Social content, join loyalty programs, go on auto-pay plans, and, perhaps most importantly, recruit others to join the tribe too. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Social Impact Study after study has proven that in 2019, consumers want to back brands that share their values and create a positive change in the world. That being said, brands can’t talk at customers about the good they’re doing; they need to work with their customers to spread good together. As panelists during How Brands Can Engage the Social Impact Generation outlined, social impact must be participatory. One panelist, Viveka Hulyalkar, Co-Founder and CEO of Beam, has developed a customer engagement platform that partners with a given company, say, a fast-casual salad stand. The salad company decides how much they’re willing to donate per purchase and a cause they would like to support, such as third world female education. Customers can then log into the app to track how each salad purchased gets them closer to buying a textbook for a young girl. Another panelist, Helena Hounsel, Social Media Manager at Brandless, offered an example of how a brand tribe of activists can be built on Social: “Rather than spending International Women’s Day showing how your company volunteered at a women’s nonprofit, why don’t you instead ask your audience which women are inspiring them this holiday?” By rallying around causes that your brand and your customers share a passion for, and then providing a platform for your customers to become ambassadors for the cause, your social impact becomes experiential and your brand tribe becomes united around a higher purpose. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Play All work and no play makes a brand’s tribe very dull. IBM’s Dr. John Cohn reminded us of that in his session, Prioritizing Play in an Automated Age, where he outlined how making room to play can smooth the bumps during life’s tough disruptions. During the talk, Dr. Cohn told us about play projects of his, like an 18-foot tall animatronic pumpkin man as well as an art car built for Burning Man. He recounted how droves of people, some of whom then became his fellow creators, were drawn to his projects while they were being built and shown off to the world. In other words, play can help you find your brand tribe, in a very “if you build it, they will come” kind of way. Through your bravery to look silly and/or fail, and your willingness to surrender to wonder for no reason other through indulging curiosity, your brand will show its authenticity and customers who identity a similar raison d’être in themselves will be drawn to you naturally. Sure, you might be saying, A wacky scientist from IBM can have a little fun, but how can brands? Let’s not forget this Southwest flight attendant who transformed the safety demonstration into a burlesque performance, or KFC apologizing for running out of chicken with an on-the-nose newspaper ad featuring its carton respelt as FCK. _________ Building A Brand Tribe Through Internal Creativity It is often hard for brands to prioritize looking inward, to their own company culture and values, when there are always so many externally-focused tasks to complete. The beloved bakery Milk Bar, however, is proof that the spirit of brands that cultivate internal creativity will always shine through and be felt externally by customers.   During Innovation in Pursuit of the Unexpected, Christina Tosi, cookie-baker extraordinaire and company founder, along with her agency partner, Michael Greenblatt of REDSCOUT, reflected on how the Milk Bar brand toolkit is a toolkit in the truest sense of the word. Through the codified system of the color palette, off-kilter logo placement, branded pastry box tape, and decorative stamps, Milk Bar employees at locations around the country are encouraged to leverage their creativity to use the tools as they’d wish. For example, the Milk Bar team suggested designing the delivery truck to look like it was covered in the Milk Bar tape; others use the logo and colors to bedazzle denim jackets and beanies that they wear to work. This DIY spirit has created a tribe of Milk Bar devotees. Because employees are welcome to live and breathe the brand uniquely, customers also view the brand as a living and breathing thing to interact with–for example by holding up a cup of “cereal milk” soft serve to a pretty background for the perfect Instagram, or by decorating their laptop in Milk Bar stickers. _________   Building A Brand Tribe Through Creation of “Brand Feeling” Lastly, it’s easy to get bogged down in lifting brand metrics. Yet during Following the Feeling: Creating Brand Value, Columbia University lecturer Kai Wright argues that the most important brand metric is how you make others feel. After all, Wright noted, humans make 95% of our daily decisions on “auto-pilot,” rather than weighing pros and cons in order to choose the best and most rational choice, with emotions influencing nearly 70% of our decision-making. He cited brands who have expertly structured their brand “LAVEC”– lexicon, audio cues, visual stimuli, experience, and culture– around a singular brand feeling. Take Disney, whose feeling of “happiness” is supported by audio cues like fireworks and visual stimuli like wearing the iconic mouse ears, or Gatorade, whose feeling of “endurance” is brought to life through the lexicon of calling its products “fuel.” If a customer can rely on your brand not just for great products or services, but for a guaranteed emotional experience, your brand tribe is then powered by the strength of shared human connection.

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