Friday, February 27, 2009

Sparking A Cultural Movement

Q: Introduce us to yourself and your company.
I am Scott Goodson, founder of StrawberryFrog. I have been building brands for over 20 years. I love my work. I love my family more than my work. I am originally from Canada, but started my advertising career in Sweden. I think we were one of the first countries to start using the internet for marketing in the early 90s.

I started my career in diapers. My parents and my grandparents and all of my sisters all worked in marketing. (My sisters have all gone onto other things: Anna leads; Joelly is at Genumark, and Tracy is running her own food company called Mamaluv.)

Q: Interactive Producers come from all walks of life, they are a hybrid of talents, tell us about your background and how you got interested in digital production?
I started my career in diapers. My parents and my grandparents and all of my sisters all worked in marketing. I grew up with very smart and interesting people around our family. When I worked in Sweden, the talent was multi-disciplined because TV wasn't a dominant media like it is in the USA. As a result, you had to be good at many things to make it. Being a hybrid was like the starting point. You had to be great at brand building, great at writing tv commercials, great at print ads, design, crm, understand the net. Sweden is a small country so brands had to travel, and the ideas had to be border less - both geographically and in terms of disciplines.

I remember the first time I started using the internet. We were all wired for email in the early 90s. So back them we were already communicating with our clients, like Ericsson. We started to build websites and web experiences around the mid 90s. There wasn't 60 years of history for how you should build a website like there is for doing TV commercials, so it was a little bit like the wild west. So we did trial and error. We made a lot of mistakes back then, but we started to get some important experience under our belt. We developed our own agency website which was a lot of fun. I remember all the crazy things we did. It was very early days, but because Sweden was such a design-oriented and technologically advanced place, the websites were pretty amazing even in the very early days.

I sold my 50 percent in the Swedish agency. When I started StrawberryFrog in Amsterdam, I scoured the web for the most amazing work out there. At the end of the 90s there wasn't a lot. But there was this one site I came across that was amazing. So I contacted the person and asked him to help me develop StrawberryFrog's first Website. I wanted it to be a talking item - something really amazing. He helped me develop something that I hadn't seen before. A site that used primarily flash. It was so successful that we got tons of calls from clients wanting us to do the same thing for them. I was working with this digital dude only by email and phone. His name was Luke. So I called him and asked if he wanted a full time job and move to Amsterdam. He told me he did but that I would have to speak to his mother. Turns out he was only 16 years old.

Our whole model for StrawberryFrog back then, was based on my agency in Sweden - a global agency that worked closely with a core team but was buttressed by a dynamic collective of independent talent and companies around the world. So Luke fit this perfectly and enabled us to develop state of the art web experiences. Eventually we grew so much that we had to hire interactive producers and we did.

Q: How do you stay on top of emerging technologies and keep your team informed and motivated?
There is only one way. Remain curious. Stay out there and try new things as they rise to the surface. Talk about them, lead by doing.

Q: What does your ideal client/project look like?
Clients that think big and who have products that excite us. The ideal work is Cultural Movement. StrawberryFrog's competitive edge is Cultural Movement. We spark Cultural Movements for our clients. Once you have a Cultural Movement you can do anything in a fragmented media world. Cultural Movement is the maximizing and mastering of all tools and technology into a focused campaign that is inspires people to belong. Of course digital is a very important element to this approach.

Q: How do you educate your clients and set realistic expectations for a project?
The key is to have excellent relationships with your clients so that you can be open to new things. The better the relationship the better the collaboration, the better the work. Both agencies and clients can learn from each other. It's also important to know and agree on what you;re going to build. If you want to build a Ferrari and the client wants to build a Mahindra, but can only afford a Kia, well then you're not setting expectations, and you will waste time, energy and eventually will fail.

Q: What was the best project you have ever worked on?
True North Snacks which we launched last summer and which this week was one of the primary sponsors of the 2009 Academy Awards. The site is
Here are some of the Oscar work:

Q: How many projects are you comfortable producing at one given time?
We can handle more projects than a traditional corporate agency without I dare say losing any quality.

Q: What does your dream production team look like?
The dream team would be some of the best talent, meshing well with the Frogs, very motivated around the movement we are creating, adding ideas and pushing it all forward, incredibly nice to work with, making problems melt away, inspiring us, delivering on time and budget.

Q: How do you ensure that your client's best interests are met?
StrawberryFrog has some very smart people. We rely on their expertise to lead this work and connect with the best production companies out there whether they are across Madison Avenue or across the world.

Q: What is your vision of what the next phase of our industry is going to look like?
The industry is chock a block with offerings. Some new, some old...the future will be about ideas and about pulling it all together with ideas that consumers care about. I think Europe is a good yardstick for how to gauge the future of the US advertising industry. (When I use the word 'Advertising" i mean all forms of communications, but advertising is the best word we have at the moment to express the combination of strategy + marketing + brand building + digital.) In Europe the big huge corporate agencies dominated back in the 90s, like a great pine forest with gray needles on the ground. Back during the last recession, these great holding companies were leap frogged by smaller, faster, more agile companies that could do everything huge clients need and want, and more effectively than the huge conglomerates. Today in Europe, some of the tall pines are still standing, but many are dominated by lush green sprouts that are thriving in a new environment. The same will come to pass in the US. The recession is plowing right through the traditional industry, driven by clients demanding higher, swifter, faster partners.

Q: Please share a snippet of wisdom that you would like to impart on our readers.
I'm for Optimism vs Pessimism.

I'm also believe that you can do anything once you have a Cultural Movement. I spend some of my time writing a blog about Cultural Movements. please enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Scott, its great to see an agency that isn't afraid to discuss Cultural Movements and their importance on the future of our industry. I think far too many shops pussy foot around it lately and, with the current economy, are just settling for projects that they think can tide them over but not really make an impact on the world around us.

    Truly inspirational and at just the right time I say! When life gets the most difficult, that is when it is most important that we stand by our convictions.

    Thanks so much for sharing and Craig, keep up the awesome interviews!