Rebel industries

Word on the Street: Episode One

Word on the Street: Episode One

It's finally done. This spring, Rebel Industries kicked off a new event series we're calling Word on the Street — interviews with top marketers who are setting the example for the rest of us in terms of genuine consumer engagement.

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No ‘Brake’

Marketers give the food truck craze extra miles with social media integration.

“The assumption from some chefs is that they know how to make these recipes, so they’ll do it their way, but if you have consumers waiting a half hour for food, that’s a problem and you’re not going to leave the kind of brand impression you intended,” says Josh Levine, ceo at Rebel Industries. “It’s balancing fresh food and speedy service.” The goal is for consumers to linger for 10 minutes or so to discuss the product with brand ambassadors as they wait for their food.

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The Convenient Truth

This month, Rebel produced the Street King booth at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show. NACS brings buyers from the nation’s 100,000+ convenience stores and gas stations to see the latest and greatest products that are cheap, small, and easy to consume.

What a crazy show! I’m no stranger to trade shows: I’ve attended and exhibited at MAGIC close to a dozen times, walked the never-ending halls at CES, been overstimulated at E3, ogled the custom cars at SEMA, and sat through more auto show press days than I care to remember. All things considered, I’d never seen anything quite like NACS.

The first thing I noticed was all the cigarettes. Given that I spend most of my time on the Westside of LA (Wessiide!) in airplanes or other major metropolitan areas, it seemed to me that America had basically given up smoking. Judging from the ridiculous number of tobacco brands on exhibit, I was wrong. Apparently, I’m also very late on a technology called electronic cigarettes, which eliminate the need for lighters. Several of the booths offered attendees the opportunity to light-up inside the hall, so lets hope they give off less second-hand smoke effects too!

Unlike most trade shows, which you have to leave in order to get a bite to eat, NACS provides the world’s largest buffet. All you can eat, as long as you only want to eat chips, cookies, energy bars, slushies, pre-packaged pies, muffins, and the like. Fortunately, the good people at Gallo and Miller Coors, provided open bars in their booths to help us wash down all of the junk food. By 1PM, the Miller booth was completely packed with delegates enjoying free beers and watching football. I wonder how much work they got done that afternoon...

All of this fascinates me, especially since I’ve pretty much ruled out convenience from my life. In fact, I think the only thing I would actually use from a convenience store (except for gas) is water. Don't let me fool you though. Judging from the vibrancy of the show and  numerous trade publications on display, the convenience store sector is hot! It makes sense: We are increasingly dependent on our cars, and our speedy lifestyles are well served by mini-mart clerks who can give us something unhealthy to snack on while we sit in traffic and gulp down a supplement to keep us awake for the ride.

On the other hand, the activation at NACS is definitely not keeping pace with industry growth. Most of the booths featured little more than basic displays. Heavy hitters like Coca-Cola and Procter and Gamble had nice looking booths, but nothing interactive for the viewers. A few booths offered the chance to meet celebrities or Mascots. Detour had a champion bodybuilder (not sure why anyone wanted to meet him), and one booth had a UFC fighter. Miller provided photo opps with the delivery guy from its commercials, and Trident gum had the lady in the trench coat.

Of course, we brought 50 Cent (co-founder and spokesperson for Street King) to take pictures with possibly the biggest crowd of the weekend. We may have had the only bona fide celebrity, unless you count Snookie, who made an appearance at the Ebi-Brown booth for no apparent reason.

Other standouts included the Monster booth, where girls in bikinis went sliding into a swimming pool. Trashy? Maybe, but it was an impressive production nonetheless. Matador had a mechanical bull. I didn’t ride. Red Bull showcased “the brand behind the can" with a media-driven experience that featured its bar-raising lifestyle content.

Besides that, it seems like most of the would-be convenience store powerhouses need to step their game up.

Is Your Marketing T-shaped?

T-Shaped Marketing  I’m having an argument with a client. Actually, my client and I are on the same side. We’re having a somewhat friendly argument with an event partner. And it goes a little something like this…


Event partner: Events are really expensive to produce, and hard to scale. If we turn our attention to creating digital content, we can reach more people for less money. That means you get more for your sponsorship dollar!


The client & I: That is true. But consider this: People love your events. They save up money to buy tickets, pay for gas, food, hotel rooms; they take off work or school to drive or fly in; they tell their friends about their plans to go to the events, and about their experience afterwards. While they’re at the event, they’re totally immersed in the experience, interacting with sponsors, spending time with friends and making new ones. That doesn’t happen when you watch a video online.


So which is it? Do you create experiences, which are costly, cumbersome, limited by geography and the laws of physics, but also memorable and meaningful? Or do you invest in digital content, which is fun and easy to share, and relatively inexpensive, but more superficial in terms of the emotional connections you create?


The answer is simple: both. Today, your marketing needs to be T-shaped. That is, it needs to be deep and rich, and at the same time shareable and scalable.


If you aren’t willing to make the kind of investment it takes to build a brand that is meaningful to your audience, why would you expect the audience to make an investment in you?