How do brands cultivate community?

The next generation of marketing agencies, a new $100 million concert hall, a rare mead concept & more

Back Feb 22, 2023 @ 11 am

The quest for authenticity in advertising is nothing new. Brands have always been after a genuine connection with their customer base. But the tactic of triggering consumer desire with aspirational images and shiny campaigns is falling away to something more genuinely authentic. 

“Consumers today want more to the story,” says Honey CEO Meghan Phillips in Robin Douglas’ February marketing feature. “And I think that kind of transparency will only become more critical. It truly makes a connection with people.”

In 2023, that connection is often made through video with an organic, unfiltered quality. Small, boutique agencies in the Capital Region — Yellow Brick Group, which counts Epic Games as a client, and Channel, whose team has produced campaigns for TikTok — are going with more vulnerable, raw forms of content.

Channel co-founder Adam Leno describes the shifting advertising landscape: “The old big media creative models — where the suits come in, they make the sale, and they push it down the pipeline and the creatives get told what to make — both from an artistic place and also from a commerce place started to make a lot less sense.” 

Read or listen to the story “The Medium is the Message” by Comstock’s contributor Robin Douglas.

Here’s the rest of the Capital Region Rundown: 

Thunder Valley Casino’s new $100 million concert hall The Venue has a blockbuster opening weekend with sold-out shows to the Eagles on Friday, Bruno Mars on Saturday and Santana on Sunday; the writer of our marketing feature shares commentary and reads her story on our podcast; CalMatters reports on the experimental California programs that are testing guaranteed income; and we go off the beaten track to one of the few places in the region that produces and serves mead, a fermented honey beverage.

Recommendations from our editors:

In this section we editors share what we’re reading, listening to, watching or even eating. Here’s what we’re consuming this week:

Judy: Comstock’s February special report on the fentanyl crisis in the Capital Region is getting a lot of positive attention. KFBK’s Kitty O’Neal did an interview with me in which I break down the main information in the 12-page report that features more than 25 interviews. If you haven’t read the report yet, please take a look. Twice as many people are dying in our region and state from fentanyl overdoses than homicides, and too many of them are young people. We want to get the word out. 

Jennifer: The news has been clogged full of the Ohio train derailment and toxic chemical plume for weeks, but today the New York Times published a story that approaches the issue from a different angle — one similar to the angle we often use at Comstock’s. Correspondent Emily Cochrane spoke to farmers and other business owners in the area who are struggling to attract customers in the shadow of the plume. The story is beautifully written, sensitive and rich with detail, and you can read it for free here.  

Vanessa: I recently read the novel “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow,” the New York Times best seller about two childhood friends who leverage their love of gaming into careers in game design. Its immersive narrative takes place over 30 years and occasionally dips into ancillary timelines and realities. I liked that this story had a lot to say about the creative process, creative partnerships and both the tenderness and tumultuousness of long lasting friendships. I also enjoyed learning a little bit about gaming! NPR’s book critic Maureen Corrigan gives a nice review of the novel.

Odds and ends:

We’re mere weeks away from our biggest issue of the year, our Women in Leadership showcase! Get a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of our photo shoot at a gorgeous new Midtown Sacramento location. 

Don’t forget to subscribe to the magazine to stay up to date on the region’s business trends, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for daily stories and extras.

Recommended For You

Comstock’s Talks: The Medium Is the Message

PODCAST: Contributor Robin Douglas reads her feature about local marketing agencies that make brands stand out in the market through research, unique design processes and a leveraging of user-generated content.

Feb 21, 2023 Vanessa Labi

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