The PRG Ideas Exchange is a series of monthly invite only events, which has been designed to delve deeper into the minds of some of the most creative people in the events industry, for an exchange of inspiring ideas.
In January our guest speakers were Theo Gentilli and Robin Shaw, the founders of Warm Street, a highly specialised culture marketing agency that connects brands with the youth and music market.
Warm Street’s ethos is simple: They believe a generous and sustainable value exchange between brands and music culture is key to cultural relevance. They advocate using culture in a long term way to enrich and enhance consumer's lives, this can drive real, tangible results that are 300% more likely to drive market share improvement and 60% more likely to drive profit improvement. (IPA 20 year study 2018)
The Story of Warm Street:
The story of Warm Street can be condensed into three key, rather wonderful moments:
Just Jack was all about building an institution for the love. It wasn’t about money, but somehow did well, and did make money. It became massive. So much so, that it was able to sell tickets all its 10th birthday with no talent announced. A great example of how we build cultural capital over the long term and the party is still going today (14 years strong) as a key part of the UK’s cultural landscape.
In the early days, Red Bull headhunted Warm Street to help concept and curate some events. They were invited back to support Red Bull nationally the following year this was the beginning of a four-year ongoing relationship with the brand, and the beginning of the agency as we know it.
Hubrick is a tech app that launched in the UK last year. Warm Street was challenged with producing its UK strategy, and as part of this, created some interesting examples of cultural IP. Warm Street listened carefully to the environment and the need states of talent and consumers, and created a bespoke football tournament that played to young people’s desire to play with artists and artists’ desire to engage with their fans.
SO WHY IS CULTURAL CAPITAL IMPORTANT TO BRANDS?
Young people are losing faith in social media
We’re seeing the implosion of social media right now in a big way. Users feel over-targeted by ads, tricked by marketing ploys and anxious about their presence there. They feel like they’re feeding a social media beast and have no choice but to comply.
Today’s youth are going through a period of self-realisation that the world they live in was not created by them, nor for them (Protein Youth Report 2017).
So, how can brands fit into this picture?
Against this context, we’ve seen many brands step in to position themselves as a positive force for good for young people. Whilst this can be applauded in principle, many don’t fulfil their bold claims and little is done in practice. What occurs, then, is a feedback loop of distrust. Young people don’t believe brands and think brands are appropriating their causes to sell them more product. It’s an ever increasing feedback loop where distrust breeds purpose which breeds more distrust. Against this backdrop, cultural capital is a way for brands to actually play a positive role and cut through.
Patagonia recently, and quite quietly, donated its $10M tax subsidy from Donald Trump’s reform to climate change initiatives.
Stormzy has always articulated having a purpose but this year used his platform to create a Cambridge scholarship and an imprint with penguin books, to provide a platform for a new generation of underrepresented authors to publish their work.
Consider culture and capital together
The key idea is to consider culture and capital together. The two are not traditionally united, but the metaphor works well as a template for how brands can and should engage with culture. It takes a long time to build this up. That doesn’t mean the brand doesn’t benefit from short term benefits in the lead up, but it won't get the benefit of a longer term commitment to culture immediately. Once you have cultural capital it doesn’t disappear immediately. Longer term strategies engender longer term results and ROI. Red Bull have been building their cultural capital for years. Red Bull book an artist and that artist will play for cheaper, they are excited to tell their fans they are playing for Red Bull, their fans are excited to attend and share it to their friends. The entire brand ROI is heightened. Alongside this, hidden influencers, who don't have thousands of followers on instagram but have massive influence, like club owners want to stock Red Bull so this closes the feedback loop where the product is seen & trialled online, at a heightened brand experience and then in real life at a cultural event (for example its the only brand present at Fabric which welcomes half a million cultural consumers through their doors a year).
Theo and Robin presented a toolkit to help really understand a project's cultural and capital fit. For a copy of this toolkit please email email@example.com.