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  • How Unexpected Collaboration Can Enhance A Brand’s Authenticity

    CMQMY6fVAAAgpH3The uncomfortable moments are where the magic happens.

    Imagine you’re a musician, and you’ve been asked to come to a conference as a member of an exclusive club of other artists, creators and (gulp) CEOs and CMOs of banks, clothing companies, tech behemoths and more. Doesn’t seem like the most comfortable place to be, does it?

    Surprisingly, PTTOW! has created an environment where these people and brands collaborate with unprecedented success.

    PTTOW! stands for Plan To Take On the World, and its members are doing just that. From C-level execs at companies like GoPro, American Express and Spotify to talents like David Blaine, Questlove and Steve Aoki, the brands, artists and leaders that make up this exclusive group are more than kind of a big deal. They’re huge.

    At the end of October, its members congregated in New York City for SESSIONS — a new platform that brings brands, media, creators and artists together to create more impactful partnerships that better reflect and engage the audience and fandom that love and surround them.

    In SESSIONS, all walls were down, all minds were open and all members were challenged to get out of their own heads – their own comfort zones – and find a way to make the world a better place through more meaningful collaborations.

    According to John Kirkpatrick, PTTOW!’s CMO, what makes SESSIONS so special is “the sheer diversity of people and industries that come together in a way that’s more open than anything.”

    The direction marketing and branding is headed has changed the way business occurs and how artists and creatives get involved, yet Kirkpatrick feels that advertising hasn’t caught up fast enough. “You can’t just sustain yourself with what’s been done before,” says Kirkpatrick. “Any entertainer, creator or artist with any brands and media – if you look at how things have been done, it still feels like it’s happening like it did in the hay day of TV and what existed 50 years ago.”

    Kirkpatrick says he wants to raise the bar higher and inspire the room to come together and realize so much more can be done.

    “What if you took a really big idea, and [asked] how do you build supergroups (of people from various industries) and put them in an environment where everyone feels comfortable? Everyone in this room doesn’t need help connecting with each other, but all companies almost become beholden to their own strategies. The consumer doesn’t have that delineation. How do you crack the code so that these brands can get out of their own heads and better connect with consumers?”

    The biggest disconnect, in Kirkpatrick’s opinion, is not that brands don’t understand strategy, rather they aren’t approaching it from a deeper perspective of why a fan becomes a fan.

    “How often do collaborations really mirror what the fan is looking for?” The dialogue between a brand  or creator and the fan or audience, you have to mirror where the culture is.”

    The solution? Kirkpatrick believes that “brands and media companies need authenticity — a real connection to someone’s life that empowers both themselves and their peers.”

    Granted, we’ve all heard “brand authenticity” over and over. Kirkpatrick even admitted himself that the word has saturated the marketing industry. Yet the reality is more people interact with more stuff than they ever have. What brands and business have to do is figure out why and how those interactions occur. Only then will an audience feel truly connected to the brands or artists it admires.

    Yet too many brands often fail to ask these crucial questions and use the answers to create more meaningful content. According to PTTOW!’s CMO, “If you can take a step back and start to recognize where the actual passion and emotion is created, how it’s created and how it spreads, you can create a hell of a lot better objective, strategy or business initiative than by simply realizing ‘we need to connect with people.’”

    If there’s any magic to what PTTOW! is, it’s that it “brings people together in a format, a platform that feels open and engaging and unexpectedly serendipitous,” says Kirkpatrick.

    Based on what I saw and heard, PTTOW!’s magic is real.

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