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Creative Series: Jimmy Smith, Amusement Park Entertainment: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Apr 16, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series with Jimmy Smith, Chairman, CEO, and Chief Creative Officer of Amusement Park Entertainment. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: Creative Series: Jimmy Smith, Amusement Park Entertainment

In this episode, we continue our Creative Series, focused on the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. Our second special guest is Jimmy Smith, Chairman, CEO, and Chief Creative Officer of Amusement Park Entertainment, and the Author of The Truth graphic novel. He’s one of the advertising industry’s most celebrated creatives and has created award-winning work for brands including Nike and Gatorade. Hear how to research and learn from legends, what’s working and not working in the experiential space, how to view a brand bible, how to embrace big thinking, and his favorite celebrities he’s worked with. This episode covers everything from NBA players to the iPhone. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • What trends are happening in the experiential marketing space?
  • How should agencies approach new technology?
  • Why is there a lack of big thinking in the creative space?
  • How do you stay away from one-hit wonders?
  • Why is Thriller still iconic?
  • How do you build an experiential campaign?
  • Why is George Lucas a genius?
  • Quick-Fire: What’s a food Jimmy could eat every day?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Jimmy Smith 0:00
You aren’t making your money work hard enough. If you continue to do these one-hit tech wonders and most of them aren’t hits.

April Martini 0:11
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

Anne Candido 0:38
Welcome to Marketing Smarts! I’m Anne Candido, and I am April Martini, and today we’re continuing our Marketing Smarts miniseries on the topic of the issues facing creative agencies today, and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. This year, it brings together folks from both agency and corporate that’ll have different POVs on this topic, but all our experienced practitioners and thought leaders with decades of experience. Today we welcome a very special guest Jimmy Smith, founder and CEO of Amusement Park Entertainment, which creates 360-degree brand experiences through storytelling and compelling interactive technology. Now Jimmy, and I go way back, he is a big thinker, which is so important to have on your team to really push the limits of what is possible, and shake out a complacency. Jimmy has worked on some of the most iconic brands in the world, including Gatorade, Nike and JBL. In addition to call the binding partnerships with a long list of influential celebrities. In today’s conversation, we cover specific topics, including what happens when we put some soul back into the ideas and innovation we work on. versus maybe being a bit lazy and making things very transactional. We talked about the brands that have been brave enough to go for creative ideas that have then stood the test of time and key paying dividends for that brand. We all know clients and creative folks speak different languages. But with a bit of trust, we can find a common language and work together to create hit records versus one hit wonders.

April Martini 2:05
All right, Jimmy, welcome to the show. And please introduce yourself to our guests.

Jimmy Smith 2:10
My name is Jimmy Smith, and how y’all doing? I’m the Chairman, CEO, and Chief Creative Officer of Amusement Park Entertainment.

April Martini 2:18
Awesome. And with that we will get into the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to evolve to stay relevant. So Jimmy, what we’ve been doing with all of our guests is kicking off by just talking to us about your experiences over the years in the creative industry, where you’ve been what you’ve seen, Top Things you’ve worked on, just introduce yourself overall to give the audience because you know we’re doing many of these, like just a general understanding of who you are and what lens they should take your interviewer through.

Jimmy Smith 2:50
Okay, I’m a black man in America. My background started off in advertising. My first gig was at Burrell, in Chicago Burrell communications. And for those who don’t know, it’s a multicultural ad agency that targets folks of color. And they’ve also done broken out and done some dope general market stuff as well. But that’s where I cut my teeth. That’s where I learned through time, Burrell Alma Hopkins, Anna Morris, and Lewis Williams, my mentor. That’s where I cut my teeth and learned everything that I practice today. I learned at home base there and then built upon that by going to foot cone and building it was called foot cone building back then worked for the great al Hopkins and that was also a brother over there and he taught me a whole lot. From there. I went to Texans Mueller in Hawaii. And yeah, I thought it was gonna be cool, but it wasn’t it was like being being a million miles away from home. And from there, I got my big break. I went back to Burrell for about six months but I got another big break from Joe muse. Legendary Hall of Famer Joe Muse over at Muse Cordero chin and muse, black Cordero Mexican, Mavis Cordero, and David chin Chinese so I would work on it, that was an experience and a good one because it set me up for doing international work because I would be doing work for the Asian consumer market, the Latino market and be translated into Spanish or whatever. And then we had a sliver of night, real small bit of Nike. And that gave me my springboard and that was for the African American market that gave me my springboard to get into Wieden + Kennedy. And I was at widen for over 10 years and did a whole bunch of stuff that you know, folks thought was pretty cool. And some of that work is in the Smithsonian, the African American Museum in the Smithsonian, African American Museum of History and Culture, that was an experience because it taught me I was always looking for a place where I could just do who I am and do what I do without worrying about whether there’s two black to white, whatever it just is, as long as it works with whatever sport you’re promoting, and for now, Nikes behalf so I helped convince LeBron to come there. Girls might have done more than what I said. But you can Kobe, same thing with Kobe. From there I went to work for and I can’t say enough about Dan Wyden, David Kennedy, John J. Susan Hoffman is like Legend after legend after legend over there from there and went to work with another legend David Liu bars, and BBDO, New York. And while in those two places, I was cutting my teeth on what we become today what amusement park entertainment is today, which is branded entertainment. So in both places, I was doing things outside of traditional advertising, TV shows, graphic novels, video games, all types of crazy stuff and actually launched the help launch the iPhone, although I’ll never get any credit. Steve, obviously, it was Steve Jobs, his baby. But he was testing out whether people would want music on their phones, a bunch of music on their phone. So we launched the Motorola rocker, and that Motorola rocker was the first phone to have items. Okay, interesting. And it made sense. You’re going well, why didn’t he just do it himself? Well, that was his plan, his master plan. All along was the you know, to bring the iPhone to the world. Their work with my other Hero League cloud, went to Shai de TBWA. Li a, you know, I thought he was Asian. I’m from Muskegon, Michigan. So you know, what the hell did I know back in when I was first coming up? This is when I was coming up. I knew by then he wasn’t but when I was coming up in the mid 80s, there was no internet. Right. So I didn’t know what he looked like. And Lee being from Muskegon, Michigan, I’m going to Lee Palau ChIAT day, there was no TBWA ChIAT day. And I’m thinking as an Asian agency in LA, that’d be cool. My wife’s from there. So why don’t we do that, but he hated my book. back then. And fortunately, he loved it. By the time I by the time we got into the 2000s. And so he brought me on to hit up Gatorade with them. And that’s where we launched G. That’s Rejina data rate. And so if everybody digs, whoever digs the G I did that. And if you’d hate it, somebody else did it. And from there we I opened up amusement park entertainment, which is branded entertainment, company branded entertainment, culture, technology, sports. And we’ve we’ve done some cool stuff. We had a guy jump out of a plane with no parachute, no wingsuit from five miles up in the air where you couldn’t even see the net. And that was prescribed GM and their tagline was mad intense. So they needed a mad intense event. So binding bow and Laura Henderson I call her l boogie. But the binding approved it greenlit it, and pushed it through and gave it to the to the Bulldog. Laura Henderson, l Boogie and she got it through. And yeah, so that won a Guinness Book of World Records.

April Martini 8:50
I mean, amazing. Yeah, first of all, so so hope everybody’s listening. I don’t think we have to say why you are on this particular series. But I do think so a lot of what we’re talking with folks about is kind of the the iteration of what we’ve all experienced in the industry, right and where things are now and where we think they’re going to go. So I think with your unique per view and the experience you have and more of this experiential space is the way I say it. Talk to us about, you know, What trends are you seeing or what’s going well, for the creative industry, what’s not going so well just give us your point of view based on all your years that you have and where you are.

Jimmy Smith 9:32
I guess what’s not going so well. I think it started in No, it started during the era. A lot of gimmicky things start popping up then real gimmicky, new technology, we’ll do this and we’ll do that and we’ll do this and they don’t have any soul to those ideas, right? They’re just attaching selling something like a A new toy that they really don’t understand what to do with they haven’t thought through. I’m talking about the agencies and the clients. And it’s just, it’s just something to get a quick, wow. And then they’re done. Right? So they haven’t had, folks haven’t had a chance, they’ve been lazy to like massage, whatever that new tech can be what it can be, you know, like TV commercials have a lot of time for folks to okay, we can do this with it, we can do that we can present it, whatever it is like this. And they’ve had a lot of time with TV commercials to give it a soul. And these new technologies are coming through so quickly, which is not a bad thing. Again, I’d say it’s pretty much laziness of not saying, Well, wait a minute. Now, this is not just something that’s just Here today, gone tomorrow. It’s like I remember, back when hip hop first came, and the media kept saying is just a fad, it will be here, it’ll go away. It’s like, well, a lot of these technologies, they’re treating them like fans, like they’re gonna go away in five minutes, not even 15 minutes, five minutes, and they’re be done. Whereas No, machine learning is here to stay. And you should treat it with the respect that it deserves, and what it can provide for, for the world and for your brands.

Anne Candido 11:28
So how is that then changing the way? Or how would you suggest then, agencies think about technology and the evolution of technology in their day to day and how they’re approaching the work or they’re in the clients?

Jimmy Smith 11:43
Well, everything so transactional stop making it so transactional, you’re building on what I said earlier, they’re mining something for a quick hit. They’re making trying to make a hit record, as opposed to a hit album. That stands the test of time. And they said, well, and you know, a lot of stock pricing prices and all that kind of stuff is what they’re in Wall Street, what their minds are on. But Michael Jackson’s Thriller ain’t going anywhere, right? Yeah, let’s see, Taylor Swift’s records are so good that she remade them, redid it so she can have her masters again. And when when you’re doing something great, it keeps giving over the course of time, it doesn’t just did that done. So one example is where I mentioned heaven sent. That’s where the guy jumped out of a plane with no parachute wings. We did that in 2016. And I don’t know how many millions of views it has now, but it keeps growing. So still delivering for the brand, even though it was a 60 minute show on Fox and internationally was shown on YouTube is a pay per view event. It’s still giving. So in other words, it’s still selling even though you you haven’t, you know, I don’t know how many like 50 100 million. I don’t know if you added up all of the views that it has is off the charts. It’s the same thing when you do something that stands is tested. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Nike freestyle. So my greatest commercial all time would be on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or whatever what great is and you got kids, actually still to this day doing the moves to it. Well, that’s still selling the Nike brand. It’s still an ad, and it’s still selling Nike. It was cool, then it’s cool now, as opposed to something I do not remember you guys don’t remember that. So you aren’t making your money. Work hard enough. If you continue to do these one hit tech wonders, and most of them aren’t hits. I shouldn’t even call them a one hit that most of them. Vast majority of them are not hits.

April Martini 13:59
Yeah, I mean, well, the brand lover and strategist in me loves to hear you say that, because I’m totally on the same. And I know, you know, we share that love a brand on the same page. And this has been one of the threads of conversation with all the guests that we’ve had so far is this whole short term knee jerk, I need to be here. Now I need to make my mark for my career I need to show up on this channel. And so what do we do about that? Because I think we’re all in agreement that that’s a huge problem. And none of us want to see these brands go that way. I mean, the examples you give, right, it’s because it’s a brand led execution. It holds the essence of what Strider Nike is standing for and has always stood for. It’s not just a stunt or something gimmicky that’s out there, and that’s why it continues to pay dividends for those companies.

Jimmy Smith 14:53
You know, that’s a great question because, I mean, it’s fallen into like American society. I mean, it’s not just, you know, a brand or a client or whatever, you look at the politicians and how they go about their business, and they don’t believe in something, but that’s gonna get me the votes. So I’m gonna, I’m gonna do that all the while they’re just stabbing their brand, you know, when it when it goes down, and maybe they don’t care about history, but when it goes down, many of them not picking on Republicans not picking on Democrats or whatever you eat on either side, that’s not going to look well, for you as time goes on. Well, same thing with your brand. I mean, how many of these brands are hurting like her team? And it’s because the of the selfish people they had working for him. And it’s because of that upper echelon of management will Oh, you made a mistake? Well, I’m not going to be brave. If you’re going to ding the hell out of me, because I tried something and it didn’t work. That’s not worth it. at the feet of family. So it’s like, and then the selfishness on the other end of it. I don’t understand why the CEOs can’t tell that whoever’s running your marketing department doesn’t care about your brand. is pretty doggone obvious. Right? And so for you to allow them to continue to do that. But it’s not all doom and gloom, gloom. You look at GEICO, that their brand is super strong. You know, and how they go about their business is? You know, oh, you know, they’re the ones who started that whole thing of, okay, we got the GEICO Gecko. Yep. And we’re gonna do this. The caveman and they were gonna do that they had multiple messages. But they all seem to come from the same place. Yeah, multiple avenues, roads to get to the same place. The Have you give you a good feeling about Geico. And I believe that’s why they dominated was was the Wizard of Wall Street. I mean, that’s one of his companies. Right? And he seems to roll like that with all of his businesses. He’s looking at long term. And so how come folks don’t connected that you have the Wizard of Wall Street? Who always thinks long term? You’re thinking short, short, short, short, short term? How’s that working for you? Not well. And then the last thing on that, when you mind something, I don’t care what it is, you’re mining for gold, you’re mining for diamonds, your mind you’re, you’re drilling for oil, right? Eventually, that oil will dries up. If you don’t put oil back into the into the Not that that’s how it worked. But if you don’t put oil back into that oil, well, if you don’t put diamonds back into the diamond mine is going to dry up. And as they’re doing, they’re sucking their brand dry. So when you suck the brand dry, then yeah, you have to do a whole bunch of sales. Because your your water is the same as this water, your toothpaste is the same as that to pave your sneakers. Same as it doesn’t frickin matter. Right? Because you’ve sucked out all of the power. It’s super powers. You sucked it out and made it just made it so it’s a transactional thing. So Well,

Anne Candido 18:32
I think there’s a lot of a lot, a lot of wisdom in that. And I mean, you and I go back in, we tried to do some big things, or some well established brands at p&g That didn’t quite get sold in to a bit of our chagrin. But I think the point that you’re saying about the short term is right on but there’s also an element about Well, there’s two things there’s one is there’s always seem to be a playbook for some of these brands. Right. So it’s interesting that you know, the Nikes of the world in Australia, GM to the world will take a risk on something that could go either way, right, there’s no guarantee about how it’s going to show up, even if it’s very well conceived. And sometimes they’re not cheap executions to be said. But then also there is an element of really trying to understand where this is going to go next. Right? Because it may not just immediately turn into sales, sometimes it’s a build and so there’s a patience that’s needed in order to kind of build and to take that and to go someplace else with it and to really have the mindset that Brandon mindset of We’re building something here so I speak from my own frustration because I was really disappointed that we weren’t able to sell something in but you have been successful in getting established brands to kind of change up the playbook a little bit without, you know, selling your seat. You could sauce or anything like that. But do you have any, like insights or tips that you could share about? How do you get these brands out of their own heads? Like, how do you get them to trust that, hey, we’re going to try something different? And you know, we’re gonna be all in it together, like, how do you get them to think that way?

Jimmy Smith 20:16
I have no idea. I get in the sense in that question, answer, right there, I have no idea what makes them buy what they buy. So when we present it, first of all, understand who you’re presenting to. Yeah, that’s your, your first thing. Don’t waste your time. You know, the Bible says, Don’t sell pearls to swine, though. If you understand who you’re who you’re dealing with, they are not going to buy a big idea. It’s just not going to happen. It’s not in their nature, and you’re wasting time, energy and money, trying to sell stuff. But I didn’t know you were gonna call and I know I was gonna get an email from you. And hey, you didn’t know. And that would have been the farthest My point is I would have put P and G in the category of wasting my time. I was I was at it before I knew you. Right? I would have said, No, I’m not trying to present anything to P&G, this waste of time. And then you call so I don’t know. And then Bonding. Bonding is always trying to do big things. Always, always, always bonding bow I’m talking about column three, B, triple B. So when I took having sent to him, he was immediate, like, Yeah, let’s do that. And I’m thinking we’re gonna do it for tain because Tang was, you know, that was the drink of astronauts. And it’s big in Brazil and bigger than other countries. This idea wasn’t necessarily had to be a US based idea. And it was owned by it is owned by Mondelez, which owns Oreo cookies, Ship ahoy, and Cadbury. And so I knew he would dig it. And I’m thinking it’d be good for tank and show it to him. I was that advertising week, he was on my panel. So after we got the panel, a triple B, I want to show you something. And he brought on some of his co workers and show it show up. We had a sizzle video. And he goes, whoa, this is great. Yes. Pray for tank, right? He goes, No, this would be good for stride go. Hmm.

April Martini 22:34
And you’re like Ha

Jimmy Smith 22:38
What does dried gum got to do? And gunfight out there, they were changing the formula on the gun. And it was gonna do cool stuff in your mouth. And so it was mad intense. So they needed a mad intense event to match up to bolster what they were saying about the gun. I had no way of knowing that. So but so what the one thing I would say is be always be open. But zero in on the on the ends of the world of bindings of the world. People that you know that? No, it’s bigger than that. It’s bigger than us. That’s what we did for JBL with with Damian Lillard is bigger than this. And so nice to work with you, April. So I’m sure you’re rolling with and so there you go for everybody. Company.

April Martini 23:33
I make you cool.

Jimmy Smith 23:35
But in terms of there’s one other thing taken, because you need it to work now whatever you’re doing, you want to work now. And it amazes me that folks can’t connect that building a brand sells I’m not proposing doing something that doesn’t sell work. Now. I’m just saying get something. If you’re paying all that money for it, don’t you want to work beyond today? What’s wrong with it working over the course of years. So one example is when we did the FOP Andy Fackrell. And I created this mythical ABA team. ABA was the American Basketball Association. So at one time there was the ABA in the NBA. And then eventually in 76, two NBA bought the ABA or they merged. And that’s why you have the San Antonio Spurs the Denver Nuggets in the Indiana Pacers. Right, so I didn’t know that either. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah. So and same thing with New Jersey Nets. So what we did was is a New Jersey net. So the New York nets. Yeah, Brooklyn, Brooklyn net is the Brooklyn Nets now but at the time. Yeah. So what we did in 2002, for Nike recreated the mythical team called the Roswell Reagan’s great character team logo. The Whole Nine and cats like Vince Carter, Jermaine O’Neal, Baron Davis, I’m probably missing some folks played on that ABA team, right? They Oh, Paul Pierce. Paul Pierce is on there. So they played on that mythical ABA team. And we did the commercials. It was a three part series. We had Bootsy Collins in it. He’s like Uncle Uncle book. It blew up. It did what it needed to do at that time was the follow up to Nike freestyle blew up, but it didn’t stop there. So that’s 2002 and 2020. And 21. I couldn’t get him to do it in 2002. I tried to get him. Hey, man. Do that. They made a limited limited limited run of jerseys. But I want them to just release the jerseys. Release this release that all with the Roswell ray gun logo, they ended up but it did what it needed to do. At that time, it was a massive hit. 20 years later, they did the jerseys, the shorts, the sweat pants, the sweat jackets, the hats, the basketballs, the shoes, and not just the shoes. They did the Air Force ones they did carry shoes they did pauvres got in on to the act, and made Roswell sneakers and what not 20 years later, that idea was still paying dividends is my point, as opposed to something you did in 2002. It ran for a month or two. And it was done and nobody talked about it. This one still pay it off handsomely worldwide for Nike 20 years later, why wouldn’t you want those type ideas you’re paying for?

April Martini 26:54
Well, and that’s another question or avenue of conversation is really making sure that yes, you know, blip on the reader, one hit wonder those type word not even type things. But also the actual building an entire experiential campaign versus just one experience. Because in your examples, right, whose things have legs because they’re going beyond just, you know, the stride drop out of the helicopter that day, you know, there’s multiple videos and experiences and the example you just gave about all the gear and all the different touch points. So can you talk a little bit about the value of that, because I think that is something that agencies are struggling with. And the ones that aren’t doing well are chasing more of these one project one hit things versus taking a step back, and working on the whole experience, and that being brand LED. I

Jimmy Smith 27:47
see us not being brand led, you know, let’s take Jesus, I’m looking over here at a sweatshirt I have is God is dope. And when you say that’s the most brilliant advertising campaign in history, now I’m a believer. So I’m not disparaging Jesus, that He is real. He is He is the real McCoy. But how it rolled out. Now of course, they had the ultimate creative director, but how it rolled out it still talked about over 2000 years later. And all of those things from the from the how they started off with you know, the 12 disciples and and grew that thing out from writing letters, okay, and then went from writing letters and going all over wherever they could by boat and foot and donkey and whatever and preaching the Word, and then doing a Bible. So you get to the Bible, where’s the brand Bible? That’s your brand Bible, when you see read the Bible, New Testament Old Testament, that’s your brand Bible. And whereas that for these brands, is nonsensical stuff. And what happens is when the new guy or girl comes in, right, they throw out that brand Bible and there’s a new brand Bible. So what did you originally did didn’t mean shit. I believe the Bible is the Bible as the Bible is the same as it was over to if you look at the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Jewish Bible, right, which is in the Christian Bible is the Old Testament, that’s essentially the same, so nothing’s changed. So what they believed then about their guy, state has remained the same shirt. So my take has a slightly different take, but if you read it, read it, it’s the same. It’s not that way with brands, their their call is this as when they did the New Coke thing? Oh, that’s New Coke. It’s this that is this that there’s no consistency in the vast majority of the brands. So I would say if I’m the head of a brand if it was good. When Jessica came up with the brand Bible, if that was working and making up the name, work in, in in 1950 560-575-8052 1005, it was the bedrock of that worked. You know, it’s like you go to a church, they don’t sit up there, it’s not the same as what it was back in 1965, they got the screens right there beaming this in from over there, and whatever what it’s evolved, but the message is the same. I think that’s the most critical thing with the brands. There’s this thing with Checkout. Star Wars, what Lucas laid down in 77, works in 2024. And is still they got a whole line of movies that are coming out, I’m sure it will ebb and flow and whatever whatnot. But the Mandarin, the Mandalorian is came out. Who was demand a lot, I remember the man how the story is the same, the concept, the Brand Book is still the same. And that I think that’s the biggest thing to do is to keep if it worked, keep it on point.

Anne Candido 31:14
I wasn’t sure where you’re going to take that because I thought you’re gonna tell me that Jesus had a best selling book. So that’s why he was six. But I like where you went with that. And I think, though, what, like Jesus and forget to use that metaphor and reality and for branding, but like, you and others, have bought it. And those people see is like, they’re big thinkers. Right? They have the ability to see how the pieces come together, and how the pieces can then live on their own. And how do you build on that? Because I remember, when you we would like, look at these ideas. He’d be like, nn, we could do this with it. And we could do this with them. We could do this within and we could sell rev extra revenue through this. I’m like, so everything you said that’s that actually occurred for some of these projects you work on, it’s actually the way you think. But if you’re not in the mindset, that you can see the opportunity, all you see is, that’s a lot, that’s gonna cost a lot. That’s gonna take a lot. How do I do that? Right. So I do think it takes an element of big thinkers. And that’s like a clear point that I’m bringing out because I think you’re my, one of my favorite big thinkers of being able to have somebody who actually thinks that way that stimulates the conversation that can go to different places. And that can see the opportunity, they could see all the different incremental streams that it can take to see what it might look like 20 years from now. So I think there’s an element of that. That’s super important. So would you say that, and I’m not trying to put words in your mouth. But would you say that this element of big thinking is something that I would say is something that a lot of agencies have lost in favor of the quick turnaround stuff, and maybe the why that the things that were being created now doesn’t have the longevity that doesn’t have that ability to look back 10 years from and be like, Hey, we can use this again. And we can reprise it, all of those. And what would you say about that?

Jimmy Smith 33:15
You know, what you’re saying is absolutely true? And I think to bring back, George Lucas Star Wars into the conversation, you asked a question, I think it was you April, or one of you asked it, how do you get them to buy these big ideas. You don’t tell them everything it can be unless you do it unless you’re dealing with somebody like you guys are bonding. And I just recently learned this, you don’t tell them everything you can because it just scrambles their brains. Like my wife, Smoke, is a numbers person. She can’t write her way out of a paper bag. She can’t get it and she’ll tell you that. But if you give Smoke Einstein, it can be some Einstein problems, math, mathematical stuff. Oh, man, this like. And I’m looking, I do not know what you did. And what why that makes sense. And she’ll go like when we’re doing she’s, she’s the comptroller of the company. And when we’re doing stuff and doing the numbers, and she’ll say, Well, how did you come up with it? So I don’t know if it makes sense to me. I just do that. And it’s and it works the same way. So my point is, we’re asking and I don’t know what you’re entirely what your background is how you understood that that was that was unique. That was special. Most people in your position. Were like two ships passing in the night. I’m saying that and other and the brand folks are saying data and reality we’re saying the same thing. I just speak in my language. You know, I might be speaking Tulsa and your speak Going French, but we’re saying the same thing. You just write it out in the strategy brand folks write it out in the strategy, like April when I’m writing it. I’m saying the same thing, but I’m writing it out in the idea. And so if I’m saying, if we can trust each other, and understand that, yes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve presented to somebody, and they go, Yeah, but we’re supposed to do. And I said, Yeah, that’s what that that’s what I just showed you is what you said in that paper. Nobody’s gonna read your paper, a consumer wise and go, Yeah, that’s it, let me go buy that brand new television, it’s got to be articulate in a way that inspires. And on the brand side, the same the forget, you aren’t talking to robots you’re talking about to people who need to be inspired. And they all they think is that the creative person is just trying to win another award, which some of them are, but if you don’t trust who you’re working with. And it goes both ways, if you don’t trust who you’re working with, if I if I’m trusting that what you’re writing on that paper, you that I can just share with you all the things that it can be like we did with you, and I can share with you and you’ll get it and that and I’ll have to hold back. We can you can get somewhere some point. But back to George Lucas. Lucas didn’t tell them didn’t tell 20th Century Fox, everything that Star Wars could be. He just told him Hey, look, I’m going to take a as I understand the story, I’m going to take, you know, normally my fee for directing is this. But I’m going to take less, and you’re going to turn over the rice to me in 10 years. Yeah, yeah. You go ahead and make that thing, Georgie will be fine. But he didn’t talk. And we know what happened was everything reverted back to him after 10 years. So I’ve been thinking, it depending on who I’m working with, if it’s a bond, and if it’s, if it’s an end, dissolve that can be this is what it can be. And we can roll it and you’ll get it. But if I’m dealing with somebody, I’m not trying to be mischievous or anything, but if I’m only going to scramble your brain by telling you what this can be, then I’m only I’m not helping you. And I’m not helping ourselves by telling you all that because you’re not going to get it. Let me just tell you, it’ll do it’ll be a great 32nd spot.

April Martini 37:46
Well, I think it’s such a good point. And, you know, this whole idea of really knowing the people you’re working with is another thread that I think and there’s different reasons people have said, why we’ve lost some of this right? Some of it is we haven’t been in person, you know, we’re over camera, we don’t get to actually see people’s mannerisms. Or, again, the idea of you know, we’re chasing the transactions, or the immediate numbers and not thinking long term, all of those things. So what I’m hearing you say is that you really take maybe more time to get to know the people you’re working with and what they’re able to, and will react to what are their triggers? What are the things that they can understand and what motivates them? And so, again, not putting words in your mouth, that’s my interpretation. But so how do you how do you do that? How do you make sure that you are in this world where things are moving so fast, and things are changing? And people are chasing different things? How do you make sure you get to that?

Jimmy Smith 38:43
I’m still learning. And hopefully, I’ll always be learning. But on that same day that we presented the bond and I learned a whole lot. And that was like in 2014. He was on like I said, he was on my panel. And I said, I asked him that question. How do you? Do we got a bunch of creatives in the room? How do you get them to buy great ideas? And he goes, first of all, you got to understand they don’t give a shit about your idea. I said, well, well, that makes sense. And, and then he said, and they don’t give a shit about making money, I’m quoting, and they’ll give a shit about making money. And that one blew me away, because I thought that was the deal. As long as I can make you a whole bunch of money. We good? We’re good. And when he said that, and it that floored me and then I experienced some things one brand, we increased sales by 47%. It was JBL. We increased sales for JBL by 47% with the dame Lillard bigger than us music video for their headphones and speakers and what neck information came from them, not me, and we never really worked with them again. And then like, we just increase your sales by 47, you don’t want to keep doing that. So I said well, on him was right, he said that he’s like profit. And he said, what you have to do is find out what their life’s their business lifecycle is. So if you got a cat that’s about to retire in five years, she’s not gonna do anything. Not doing anything, if you got a guy that is looking to leave and looking for, you know, to land his next big gig, he’s going to do something, he’s more likely to do something, right. Or if they’re, and what type of person is it that about to be promoted, they want to stay at the company, and they want to be promoted? Do they want to do something big, because that’s gonna be the end, you have to talk to them, you have to understand what it is. So while you’re at Cannes, instead of just drinking the Rose. Talk to the folks that you might be interested in, in working with or when you head south by or when you’re at Advertising Week, hanging out with them and see and see where they’re coming from on their business lifecycle. And that can help you by no means 100%. But it works a lot better than you waiting on a call for from and

Anne Candido 41:27
I think that’s a really good lesson to learn too, about networking, which a lot of times, clients don’t do, either they they go to see and be seen and want people to engage with them. But they’re not on the lookout for the next best agency or person that’s going to help them shape and build their future if it’s self reflected, or the future of their business in general, if they’re looking for our contribution for their work and development plan and to move to the next level. Then I build on that though, and oh, yeah, go ahead.

Jimmy Smith 42:01
Yeah, I’m sorry, what you triggered it when you said what it can do for them. So if they are kind of selfish and not brand, I can’t tell you how many people got promotions off of the G campaign that we created for Gatorade, right? Yeah, on the brand side, I mean, those cats blew up to CEOs, global CMOS. They just rode that wave and are still riding that wave, something that was created back in 2009. So being on the lookout, just like what you said, and at some of these events on who who if yours, I don’t operate that way. I’m trying to hook up the brand, I’m trying to put I’m weird that way. Take care to brand. They’ll take care of you. That’s that’s the way I roll. And oftentimes, I think I care more about the brand than the whoever’s on the client side. But um, if you are not of that ilk mindset, then yeah, look, look out there who who’s doing stuff that’s blown up in can get you wherever you’re trying to go. Because doing these little things, is not helping the brand. And I’d say if you’re trying to get from point A to point B, doing something big and big doesn’t mean like you spent $10 billion. It, I mean, a big idea, an idea, like just do it that stands the test of time, right? That’s gonna get you from A to B a lot quicker than let me do this thing that maybe increase sales by .000000001%. Maybe, as opposed to something that everybody is still talking about 10 years, 15 years. 50 years? Yeah, I did. I did that you did that. Hey, can you come over here and do that for us? Hey, can you come over? We’ll make you do this or that. So there you go. Well, I

Anne Candido 44:03
think that’s really well said, because I think it goes back to the trust factor. Because I think if you talk to a lot of these people about what they’re working on, they’re going to tell you, it’s gonna be the next G it’s gonna be the next, like, whatever that big thing is that they had in their head. And the reality of the situation is they don’t know. Right? And they may not have the experience to say, yeah, it’s going to be like this. And, and so it’s a very arbitrary assessment of what the possible potential is or what the opportunities. So again, I go back to why it’s so important to have somebody who knows what a big idea looks like how to execute a big idea. Who has done it before, versus talking to ourselves about thinking we’re creating these ideas and being very proud of ourselves for another 32nd spot. That looks like the same shit we’ve done over and over and over again, but we expect it Oh, this one didn’t hit well. That’s kind of shocking. That’s kind of surprising. I mean, without going out on the tangent, I mean, do go back to the Super Bowl ads, which will be a nice segue to what I’m getting to here in a second, which is, hey, we don’t know what to do. Let’s tie some sort of purpose to it. Or let’s put some sort of celebrity into it, right, which is, if we don’t have any creative or clever ideas, we’ll just do those two things. We’ll let those two things right. Now, I’ll say you are used to celebrity is probably been some of the smartest that I’ve ever seen. And your use of purpose has been some of the smartest year that I’ve ever seen. So how do you integrate these like, quote unquote, flashy things? Or being celebrity or purpose driven, which seems to be everybody’s like, now, moniker for how do we make ourselves a little bit more human? How do we make ourselves a little bit more warmer, where it’s going to tie it to some sort of purpose? And we’re going to go, what is your assessment of that situation? How do you do it in a way that is actually so authentic? And so well done? And why? And how are other people getting it so wrong?

Jimmy Smith 45:57
It goes, they’re getting it so wrong, because that’s not what they do. So, for instance, when when I was at Wieden+Kennedy, and we’re working with Nike, I tell him, I don’t know how to make a shoe. I don’t have a clue. I don’t know how to, you know how that’s going to work, how to design is going to work or whatever, whatever, whatever. And I’m not going to try and tell you how to tinker. Tinker Hatfield? Is the legendary shoe designer, grit, Nike, do your thing. Let me do my thing. And take her did take her in and the rest of them. They by and large, they let me do my thing. Find like you when you go to a doctor, you do your research. Right? You go to the doctor, go see a specialist. And after you’ve done your research and you talk to people and they said Dr. So and so is great. You’re sitting up there telling Dr. Bombay how to do surgery. Yeah. Like that’s, that’s what you do. Dude, I’m my life is in your hands. And I trust that you’re going to do it based off of the research. It’s the same thing. With brands like who’s doing what? Look, watch these podcasts, listen to these podcasts. Read the articles. I know when I was coming up, I treated it like Kobe. Kobe would always research. Elgin Baylor most people haven’t heard of Elgin, Baylor Jerry West, so on and so on. Michael obviously. And he did incorporate that stuff into his game when I was coming up. I would research. Mr. Lee Clow, Dan, why and Tomic elegant, Susan Hoffman, whatever, whatever, whatever. So you have to take, you should take this on on if you’re a brand person to take this on. I’m going to do my research and find out who the legends are, why they’re the legends. And I’m going to make a decision. And I’m getting that person or that agency and this and that, whatever, whatever. You do what you do. I do what I do. And we’re and we’re good. Now, if it doesn’t work, you fire him. I don’t mean, I don’t and I don’t mean like you try something brave and it didn’t work. Okay. Well, because nobody, you know, Tom Brady wasn’t perfect and Super Bowls, there’s going to be there’s going to be mistakes. And if there aren’t any mistakes, then you aren’t pressing, they need to dig in any new ground is like they didn’t get to the moon on the first rocket ship. It took a minute to figure all that out. But if it’s like not working to a large degree, get me go to the next person or the next agency and whatever and whatever and whatnot. That’s what I would do. Because like I told you guys earlier, I’m never going to understand mathematics, the way smoke understands mathematics. So I’m not going to even try when she says nobody should do this. Because the numbers this that, well, we’re going to do that because that’s what smoked this. And when it comes to the creative stuff, that’s what I do. And I’m gonna do my thing. So it still boils down to doing the research, and then trusting whoever that is, and then moving on, you know, when it’s not working.

Anne Candido 49:26
It kind of goes back to the theme I think of but we’re having it’s like you need to go to the people who know what they’re doing. So the reason why just throwing a celebrity in an ad or throwing a purpose tied to your business doesn’t work. It’s because the people who are doing it don’t know what they’re doing.

Jimmy Smith 49:41
They are star efforts. Oh, I’m gonna make I remember. I love Alicia Keys. I think Alicia Keys is the bomb, and she’s awesome and Swizz Beatz ought to die a happy man right? Um, that’s her husband. But when Motorola made her the creative director, I think it was Motorola is like, that’s not what she does. And I’m not saying that she can’t do that. But if she couldn’t do that, you wouldn’t, it wouldn’t. That wouldn’t have gone away and like six months, or whatever, or whatever the length of time, it wasn’t. And it’s not that people can’t do things that are out of their wheelhouse. You know, we do a bunch of I didn’t know anything about jumping out of a plane. But they’re they’re nice. Was there did you choose? Alicia? Because you there’s something that you knew that she could do that and be a chief creative officer, or Motorola? Or did you choose it because I like your music. And I can’t tell you how many celebs Shaq is in a whole bunch of stuff. And it’s like, what is Shaq got to do with that. And Shaq is awesome. Shaq is awesome. And he can be used and in ways that would blow people’s minds. They haven’t scratched the surface. He actually many celebrities do this stuff because they’re getting paid. But it’s fucking up their brand. It’s going up that celebrities personal brand, with the ad that they’re showing up in Steph Curry hasn’t had a great ad since I don’t know 1952. Before? And we did I can’t say that we did a dope one with him for 2015 I think it was. But in general, the celebrities just is on both sides of brand. Oh, I like step Oh, I like Shaq. Oh, I like this person. Well, where’s the connection to your brand, that’s you’re gonna pay him all this money, don’t you want that to work hard for your brand, and most the time they don’t, and they think people are stupid, I’m gonna buy that the key is that person. Now there are exceptions to the rule. Like at the height of Michael Jackson’s powers, he could sell whatever he wanted to sell. There’s only one person on the planet right now that is like that. And that’s Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift. And, you know, if she touches it, that thing I recommend, I don’t care if you’re selling paperclips, sighing Taylor, and you sell more paper, paper clips. But by and large, the majority of there needs to be a connection to the brand rhyme and reason why it makes sense. And that you should let leave that to whoever your creative agency or whoever your creative is that you’re working with, to sort that out for you. And then trust them. I remember I this just happened. This just happened. And I won’t say the name of the brand. But I recommended Bootsy wagon say this, this part of it. I recommend that Bootsy back in 2002 for Nike. And the first question is, yeah, but we’re talking to 12 to 17 year olds that don’t know anything about Bootsy. And I explained why they should do it. And they listen. Right? And which is the hallmark of when I was working there what Nike did, they did listen, well, I just brought it up to somebody else. And I said, Well, you should use Bootsy for this. And I said, Yeah, but we’re talking to and this is not Nike, this is totally totally different brand. Yeah, but our market he doesn’t he’s too old for our target market. I said, You sound just like, you must have been a fly on the wall. 2002. Well, you know, so a smart creative is going to recommend if if a celebrity is needed at all. And that’s an art and turning somebody into a celebrity who is not it’s even more valuable. If you can turn somebody into a celebrity before they become a celebrity and what makes them a celebrity is your brand and and get that to the men what Yeah, so like the lady from progressive, right? Yeah, yeah. Gum famous. Based on what did the gecko who gave a rat’s ass about the get go and they made the turn the gecko into something but the caveman we can go on and on the the man your man should smell like he wasn’t famous for Old Spice. And the last example is no seconds. I still don’t know why they got rid of that campaign. And it just boggles my mind. Oh, I couldn’t tell you one. They’ll say he’s commercial right now. I don’t know. But I can tell you what they did when they had the man the most interesting man in the world. I can tell you what, that yeah, that’s a process of being lazy. You know, let me just hire let me just get I liked this person’s music and let me get them so it just takes it’s art. It’s an art. It’s not sad. emphasis is artistry.

April Martini 55:03
All right? Well, we have covered the gamut in this conversation today. And I think we’ve covered all angles, again, with the different aspects of your experience, Jimmy and just the lens of where’s the industry going? And where should it be going? And what do we have to watch out for and change as we go?

Anne Candido 55:20
Through my website in an agency, I have an agency where we have really great, yeah.

April Martini 55:25
So before we let you go, we switch gears a little bit, we like to do a couple quick fires. And we haven’t told you what these are. But just so our guests get to know you personally, a little bit and you know, 30 seconds or a minute, call it. So the first one here is we were just talking about celebrities, right? So your favorite celebrity that you’ve worked with

Jimmy Smith 55:42
and why. Now, April, there have been a ton of celebrities and they, for the most part, they’ve all been dope, there’s only been a couple of knuckleheads. So it would have been better question would have been who was the knucklehead that you wouldn’t make him that you would never want to work with? Again, you really want me to ask you that? Oh, you could ask me that. And I wouldn’t answer that question. As far as that, yeah. Well, there’s, well, there’s one, and I’m gonna probably leave somebody off. But Tiffany Haddish. Interesting is a friend of mine. And we haven’t worked together yet. We’re working on stuff trying to get stuff off the ground. And she’s the most the biggest celeb ageless. She’s A-lister that acts like a Z-lister, meaning she’s just down to earth. And even though she doesn’t hold it against you if something doesn’t work, if that Yeah, we went to this clan and that plan and those knuckleheads didn’t do it. She’s cool. She’s awesome. Bootsy Collins is on the on the male side is that way he’s just Jimmy whether what you want. He’s just, he’s just cool like that. And then Dave Damian Lillard? What he did with JBL with bigger than us, and this is coming on the heels of Mike Brown being murdered and a lot of blacks being murdered by police officers. And whereas many celebrities one in particular, we’re running away from that up, now’s not the right time to talk about that now’s not the right time. He didn’t give a rat’s ass, he’s gonna lay it down and tell the truth and he did that in that song bigger than us and I could never thank him enough for that. Kevin Garnett. Kevin Garnett would come to the set. And okay, do you want me to read it like this? Or do you want me to read it like this? Yeah, it was it’s like whereas most many of them not all of them but many of them will come have no clue as to why which what you wish to want to do? You know what I don’t even know what the ad is. We go on and on about a bunch of those folks. Many of them are dope the vast mature that’s the horror stories that you hear about them just celebrities in general most of them are fucking awesome.

April Martini 58:22
All right, what’s your biggest hobby outside of work?

Jimmy Smith 58:27
You know Smoke accuses me of working non stop so that’s really hard because if I’m going to the movies, ideas gonna pop up well. Comic book hanging out with the family hanging out with Smoke, hanging out with the grandkids that’s the most fun stuff. And

April Martini 58:45
called the grandkids want to see the grandkids? Very proud of those grandkids?

Jimmy Smith 58:50
Yeah, I got a third one on the way too so

April Martini 58:53
congratulations. Oh, yeah. All right. Last one if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life well would it be

Jimmy Smith 59:00
Corn dogs. Corn dogs.

April Martini 59:04
Right like that.

Did you have to think about that.

Jimmy Smith 59:07
The reason I don’t eat them is because they aren’t healthy but if they were healthy, I eat them every single day I kind of hate today despise the day that I realize these are two health but yeah, organic hotdog or organic hotdog or organic corn meal cooked in coconut oil. See I got it all down with organic game over.

April Martini 59:35
All right, well, this has been awesome. Jimmy so before we let you go tell people where to find you if they want to continue the conversation and hear more. I mean, this could be this could go on for days, right? So no shortage there. Let people know where they can find. Yeah.

Jimmy Smith 59:48
People just know they know they know somebody that knows somebody that hits me but basically just email me. Email. Well, you probably should email Dee@AmusementParkEntcom. Also get The Truth graphic novel. go to Amazon and get The Truth graphic novel. And just look up Jimmy Smith. And Nolan Woodard. Nolan is a big-time Marvel artist now discovered him out of fresh out of school back in 1999. And he illustrated my graphic novel and now he’s blown up and does think he’s doing some Star Wars stuff Spider-Man stuff he’s Ah, but anyway, if you look up that the truth graphic novel Nolan Witter Jimmy Smith, you find that on Amazon.

Anne Candido 1:00:53
This has been an exceptionally insightful conversation and we want to thank Jimmy for being one of our experts in the Marketing Smarts: Creative Series, the issues facing creative agencies today and how they need to above to stay relevant.

April Martini 1:01:03
We hope that coming out of this conversation all of you listeners take action on the insights we’ve discussed today to make your agency client partnerships stronger and more meaningful, as well as be honest with yourselves and clean up work clean up as needed. We can all change the industry for the better this way. Be on the lookout or listen for other episodes in this series. And if you have particular thoughts or feedback, we’d love to hear from you as always. And with that, we will say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts! Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!