Fresh out of New York University’s undergraduate film program, Pete Chatmon couldn’t find a studio that would support his vision for his first project. So Chatmon, now president and CEO of Double 7 Film, created his own. Nine years later, the production company offers its creative genius to brands through its marketing arm, Double 7 Boutique. We spoke with Chatmon to find out what he offers through his full range of new media marketing services—and what’s wrong with your current strategy.
What is your definition of "new media"?
New media is old media that takes full advantage of the global reach of the web.
It's how you position the content and exploit the multitude of available platforms that speak directly to your audience. The barriers are falling down everyday.
Our new media initiatives are designed to create a more effective conversation between a company and its employees, customers, and the millions of people waiting to interact with a well-crafted viral campaign.
Are there millions of people willing to interact that way?
The easiest way to answer that question is to look at the 2008 Presidential Election. President Obama controlled his message by strategically utilizing new media to deliver the goods and counteract anything that clashed with campaign objectives. YouTube was launched in February 2005. I think it's safe to say that Obama might not have won the 2004 election.
Most companies aren't trying to secure 63,000,000 votes or shall we say "customers", but it's evident that new media allows the platforms of communication that people seek and are becoming more and more used to everyday.
What makes your approach to new media marketing different from what’s already out there?
We do a thing called a Biocast, and it's about treating everyone like an audience and letting the mission of a company be the story. … Corporate video is the word on the wall that you want to avoid. Storytelling is something that’s not a given to everyone. [Imagine] people hanging around the water cooler: Somebody could tell a really heart-wrenching and traumatic episode in their life that nobody wants to listen to, while the next person is just telling about how [his] ride on the train was, and [he’s] got everyone enraptured.
Walk us through the process of creating a Biocast from conception to launch.
Our process begins with a conversation where we go very old school with it and just listen. We work to identify our client's core values and the primary message/objective of the Biocast.
Next, we review all applicable literature on the company or product and visit the client's site to get a hands-on feel of the corporate culture, its processes, and overall vibe. From there, our creative team constructs the creative proposal as to what we would like to capture (in high definition, of course) and how we intend to structure the overall piece. Upon approval, we load up our equipment and turn the creativity on high.
When the Biocast is complete, we work with our client on a variety of "premiere" options, whether it be a physical event at their offices or another venue, a web premiere through their intranet, or if they desire to go viral we structure a web dissemination strategy to identify the best blogs, websites, other platforms for direct exposure to the correct demographic.
Our process ensures that no two Biocasts are ever alike. Two companies in the same industry would yield two entirely different Biocasts because we are ultimately highlighting how you do business. We tell your story.
Why is storytelling an important branding strategy for quick-serves?
It becomes a way to connect with people in a very organic manner where they're learning something while at the same time getting a very good feeling about you as a company. … On the flip side, if you're a new company that, let's say you're launching a new initiative or you have a new product and you want to use the Biocast as strictly an internal kind of communication, it can be the difference between having everybody on your work force on the wrong page or not.
But does that necessarily translate to an improved bottom line?
I think so. You have the new media initiative, and that would include a Biocast, which we kind of coined for your people, and then if you were going with the whole campaign, you would do a viral campaign, which is for the people. That's something that maybe, depending upon the client's needs, might be more of a traditional advertisement, more of a traditional creative piece that is selling an asset of your company in a creative way.
On what platform do you see Biocasts working best?
It can exist on the [company’s] Web site. It can exist on strategically placed blogs, and other Web platforms that are search-engine optimized. … They’re also things that can be incorporated into an event.
How much would a Biocast campaign cost?
They range anywhere from between $7,500 and upwards of $35,000. It depends on the nature of what’s needed. … If you compare that to what you might have to pay a much larger, non-boutique agency, you pay maybe 10 times what we're doing and are not necessarily going to be able to reach as many people.
Why hire a company at all when you can produce something yourself with a Flip?
A lot of companies are able to pick up a camera. They’ll show a day at the office, and just shoot it and edit it, or it won’t even be edited. It’ll be one shot, and they’ll put it on the Web, and they’ll think that that’s new media. But it's really now up to more creative thinking and talented filmmakers to make sure companies are distinguishing themselves within new media.
And traditional corporate video wouldn’t accomplish the same?
Just because a company's message is important doesn't guarantee that it will translate to an audience. Employees are an audience. Customers are an audience. Even your competitors are an audience. Corporate video delivers information with little regard for the audiences need to emotionally connect to the message.
As filmmakers, we make sure that no gaps are left in the conversation and a client's corporate culture is cemented in a highly resonant cinematic style. People have to want to watch something.