First off tell us a little about hi5.agency, how would you describe your agency and the work you create?
We’re a mid-sized, full-service creative agency in sunny southern California. We were born in the age of social media with roots in the entertainment industry, and we believe that allows us a unique approach in how we solve problems. Our works spans everything from original shoots, experiential activations, and out-of-home to brand strategy and social campaigns.
With the increasing amount of content being generated, decreasing attention spans, and constantly changing algorithms across platforms, how can marketers get and possibly hold the attention of consumers?
In order to answer that question best, we need to make a little tweak on the word ‘consumer.’ At hi5.agency we actively try not to think about things in terms of ‘consumers’ because at the end of the day, consumers aren’t looking to have their attention held, audiences are. Audiences seek to be entertained - they want to engage, interact, and - if you treat them right - they’re eager to come back for more. At the end of the day, the best way to gain and hold that attention is to add value.
On the topic of holding attention, for The Haunting of Hill House, you targeted a niche audience most would overlook. Can you speak on the insight behind that and how you were able to connect with them?
It’s easy to hit a broad horror audience, but in order to find horror superfans, you have to go to scarier places. Marketers always say reddit is one of the scariest places to enter, but we knew that some of the actual horror stories being shared on the platform were way scarier. Subreddits such as /r/NoSleep have become an infamous place for horror stories and have built a community that upholds one major rule: everything in the subreddit is true, even if it’s not. We were able to connect with them by respecting their rules and adding value to their community. It was as simple as that.
There would seem to be a sort of tension between data (statistics, proven practices) and creativity (art, spontaneity). As a creative agency, how does hi5.agency reconcile the two?
At a lot of agencies, there’s tension between the strategy and creative departments, and that’s likely due to the fact that they simply aren’t speaking the same language. hi5.agency takes a truly collaborative approach that begins with a strategy that is created in collaboration with the creative team. This allows the strategy team to present and explain statistics and insights in a clear, simple manner, illustrating why they matter and how it all can ladder up to a compelling creative platform. It’s why we call our strategists, creative strategists; strategy has the ability to influence the creative platform through developing key truths and insights in collaboration with the creative team.
Looking at the current digital environment, how is it affecting the boundaries of what can and can’t be said in advertising?
Advertising has always had boundaries around what could and couldn’t be said and historically those boundaries are continuously broken down. It all comes down to a combination of common sense and timing. Ask yourself: is this the right time for me to be saying this and is the way that I’m saying it coming across in a manner that allows it to be received the way I hope for?
As we come to the end of the first quarter of the year, what issues do you see advertisers struggling with? Do you have any predictions for the rest of the year?
I think advertisers are having trouble making sure that their content is getting discovered. Between the increasingly fragmented use of social media platforms, all the real world consequences we're seeing around the internet in general and the exponential rise of stuff being made to fill feeds, it’s a battle to stand out.
The rest of the year will be filled with advertisers trying to figure out how to inject more unique elements into their messaging. How can they add more elements of humanity into their marketing mix? What are the opportunities to be first movers? How can they learn to listen more, then do something with what they hear? Who’s going to do something that truly resonates in culture? We’ve seen bits and pieces of this taking place in Q1 and I’d say by the end of the year, the ads we will all talking be about will have accomplished multiple elements of the above.