Video Transcript

00:13 Audience Member: Did they win their first game?

00:14 Cal McAllister: They won the first game. We control that. That was expensive and they won the first game... They won the first game and it was very, it was an exhilarating experience and it certainly did a lot of work. It's easy and exciting when teams win games. It's easier to make a broader fan base.

00:35 Audience Member: Have you won a game since?

00:37 McAllister: No, just a single game.

00:40 McAllister: They have their... About a game or two over 500. They have been eliminated the first round of playoffs each year. What's interesting about working with the Sounders and the fan base now is the honeymoon period is over. We're now like every other Seattle sports team that loses in the playoffs when you shouldn't. What we can do is try and control the experience to give people reasons to be excited and hold out hope. And I think I was watching the basketball game... Watching the basketball tournament, as with any sport given, basketball tournament, 63 teams will play in this year, I don't know how many teams, 63 teams are gonna be disappointed with their results. One team is the champion. So, by working with the fan base and trying to help create opportunities for them to be excited across the way, that's what you control and hopefully records don't have as much to do with how excited the fan bases.

01:36 McAllister: Yes, the stadium has been sold out every single game for three years. They've been named the one of the top 50s soccer franchises in the world. It's the only US or MLS team that's been held up there. The challenge is interesting. The goal for the first season was to sell 22,000 season tickets. The MLS average was 4700 and the LA Galaxy with Landon Donovan and David Beckham had 11,000. We didn't think there's anyway we can do it [laughter] But every game has been sold out since. This is largely because of the fan experience. Again, we can't create that, we sort of set it up. We gave enough people an opportunity to participate, but beyond that, it's really the fan. Our goal by year three was to turn the team over to the fans like the sports franchises, all the best sport franchises do; Detroit Red Wings, Green By Packers. Those are basically owned by the fan base, that was our goal with the Sounders, and they've sold out every game since.

02:37 Audience Member: Have you done the B-to-B campaigns for the companies?

02:41 McAllister: We do a lot of work with Microsoft and probably half of our work is B-to-B. But people think, "Well, you can't do crazy things for business-to-business." And we say, "Is that because you think that those guys aren't human? Are those guys, they don't like things." [laughter] It's actually, we love doing B-to-B work because that category is so bland, it's fun to do interesting things and people respond in the same way that people wanna be fans. In business, they have to do their jobs. If you make their jobs a little bit more fun, B-to-B, then it gets really easy for us.

03:14 Audience Member: Can you give us some examples of B-to-B?

03:17 McAllister: What we would consider business-to-business step that we would consider, we do a lot of recruiting for Microsoft and we don't consider Microsoft really to be a consumer brand. We do... Well, in that regard because we're trying to hire students. We do work for... We did an event here for Microsoft's competitors to VMware, which is a business-to-business product. We are at The Venetian. I might get arrested for this. We've dressed 25 people up as gondoliers and security and cleaning... The cleaning crew and they handed out little business cards with a dollar poker chip glued on to it, this was two or three years ago. That SAID, if you're betting on VMware, you're wasting your money. Take a bet on us and right before the key note, we started handing those out. And it was cool because they had no idea who to pick out because everybody looks like everybody else. We got rid of about 4000 or 5000 chips in the 15 minutes it took for us to get kicked out, and we got New York Times and The Wall Street Journal the next morning as an interesting way for... Of how businesses are trying to interact with other businesses. So, we treat B-to-B as a consumer campaign, and consider them consumers also, but that's probably our favorite B-to-B example.

04:44 Audience Member: In social media, what is the trend for [04:47] ____? How is that impacting the marketing industry?

04:53 McAllister: Question is, in social media, what's the trend for advertising and how's that impacting marketing, in general? So, I would say that never in the history of communication, at least as much as I've studied it, has there have been an opportunity for people with absolutely no credentials to spread their message and what they think and for people to give them some form of authority than there is today. People will tweet about brands and put Facebook post about brands and blog about brands. To be a reporter, you used to have to know what you're doing. Now, what you need is to do is have an opinion. So social media and the ability to affect that with marketing and the ability to make sure that because you can't truly control it, you can only stir it. You can only make sure they're at least well informed. It plays a huge role in what we do. It's also where companies go because they think it's free. It's not. But that's where they think, "Oh, I can just have a Twitter account. I can have a Facebook page, and that's gonna solve all my problems." But that's... But if you pay attention to it and you use it as a marketing tool, it probably is the of the most important things you can do.

06:02 McAllister: At the same time, there is no way that you can reach as many people. If you run a Super Bowl ad, you're going to reach more people than any other social media campaign that you can do. The biggest Twitter followers are still in the low millions and the Super Bowl is 64 times that. So it's not the only way. Traditional media will always exist, but we are a social media company because that's where we base all of our campaigns. And truly, that's where people go. Last night, as a good example, instead of calling up... Instead of calling up Zagats or something where to go to dinner, it was a Facebook post and Twitter feed and I wanted to hear what my friends suggested. Social media is truly changing the world. It's overthrowing governments, so you kinda have to pay attention to it.

06:49 Audience Member: Do you have a certain process that you go through to come up with your ideas for these different campaigns?

06:56 McAllister: Yeah. We have a creative brief. We did... We still do that, but I would say that those last three things that we did that I showed really contribute to what leads to the development of our creatives. So we do have a process. We do a lot of research, probably more than a lot of agencies 'cause we like to understand what will get people to move and what will get people to participate and how we can activate them. That's really critical to us and that's all in the creative brief. But, other than that, it's just to give it to the creative team, and thankfully that's part of what I do and we just kind of go away for a little bit with that brief as guidance and knowing that we need to get people to engage with the brand and that's basically... Also knowing that we need to solve, not just solving the problem first, knowing that we need to solve the problem first, understanding what the problem is, and then looking at our resources. So we'll come up with the idea and then to see how we can spread.

07:54 Audience Member: How can I move an enthusiast, from an enthusiast to a fan? First, how can I find them, and how can I move them from an enthusiast to a fan?

08:04 McAllister: Enthusiasts are an interesting category. Enthusiasts are people, you can find them by just doing a general web search, you can find them by doing a Twitter search, you can find them just talking about your brand, you can find them saying, "I really like those guys." General social media audits will let you know where the enthusiasts are, and then your own companies and your own records can show if they're fans or not. And if they're not, by identifying them, the best way to turn an enthusiast into a fan is to engage them. There's a lot of people who talk about brands and a lot of people that say that they like brands through their social media. If you engage them, there's companies... Comcast does a good job, Boingo does an outstanding job responding to just line of tweets. Twitter has become probably one of the best places where people can go when they don't have the time to read the Q&A in there [laughter] in the customer service section. Engaging people in a... Across all the spectrum, but engaging enthusiasts is the easiest way to turn them into a fan.

09:07 Audience Member: Right here. Now someone actually tweeted me a question to Inc events.

09:12 McAllister: Awesome.

09:12 Audience Member: They said, "If one has essentially no creativity, how do they do the things that you're suggesting?"

09:19 McAllister: Right on I have never met anybody with no creativity, including my taxi driver that got me here yesterday through, I think, Phoenix [laughter] If you don't have creativity, or think you don't, then just live it off authenticity and just see what the truth is all about. There are brands that are a lot more truthful, like Ben & Jerry's come across as being a lot more honest and sincere and that's one fantastic way to do the kinds of things that we're doing just by being truthful. And then the creativity comes and the execution of that, and that'll come when you have an interesting idea that you're proud of. You've started your own company so there's, obviously, already passion. When you're gonna start a company, you're already passionate about the cause or about what you're gonna do. That's where the truth lies and that's what the authenticity is. So the creativity comes in executing that. Once you have that passion, you'll discover it. It will sneak in. Everybody's creative.

10:24 Audience Member: Hi.

10:25 McAllister: Hi.

10:26 Audience Member: So you've got a pretty good cross for keeping our clients' fans, but what about our employees? How do we go about keeping them passionate and inspired? What kind of creative ideas would you go about keeping our staff interested in what we do and as passionate as we are?

10:43 McAllister: I'm glad that you've asked that because that's what Microsoft has challenged us to do. We do all... When we talk about a giant scale, we do all the creative for their company meeting. There's 95,000 people at Microsoft, 95,000 human beings that are now getting over it, but they had a bad reputation for a while. They become your ambassadors. They're the people that you can deal with every single day. So if you show, at least at Wexley, I think we have a pretty passionate group about the work that we do, we're only 26 people. If they see the excitement and the passion that we go at things, and we keep them involved, and we give them an opportunity to not only be fans of it but to participate and to help steer, we're a pretty collaborative company. We find that our employees, well, every single one of our employees, probably including the two founders, could go to a different company and make more money, if not almost double their salary. The reason that they stay with Wexley is because they're excited about the cause and the passion.

11:39 McAllister: And I think that's probably the reason why people stay at any company when almost anybody could probably leave and make more money some place else. So making people, making your employees fans of your own company, realizing that they're the ones that every single day tell people what they do because they're asked. They're your most valuable asset, whether it's a small or a large company. Keeping them engaged and keeping them fans, and giving them opportunities to interact and not only engage, but steer the brand, is probably the most effective way that you can keep them engaged and embrace your own fan base, in your immediate fan base, that you pay to be fans.

12:21 McAllister: I think that's got it. I've got one more.

12:23 Audience Member: I'm wondering if you can give us the concept behind the white room?

12:27 McAllister: The concept behind the white room is a simple one in that, there's a wall that is laser-etched Styrofoam that's then shrink-wrapped with plastic that our architect found. And... We'll see if I can get all the way back there. She said, "It's gonna be kind of difficult... That's not gonna work. She said, "It's gonna be kind of difficult. It's all white and white rooms are incredibly difficult to work with." And we said, "We could probably handle it." It's where, we think, our purest ideas come from. This is gonna be very underwhelming once we get there, isn't it? [laughter] It's hard to see on the piano, but that's an 8-foot long rubber snake. We call it the original white snake.

13:29 McAllister: Again, everything on Craigslist, the busts of our celebrities. This is sort of where the Grateful Dead shot their album, Heaven. I think that's got it and it's time for me to give this stage up. Thanks very much for not only making it happen. I hope I made it relevant for you.