Unconventionals Podcast | Season 5 Episode 6

Beer, Records, and Watches: What Can We Learn From the Revival of Craft?

Digital dominates our everyday lives, and we increasingly organize our world around the software, platforms, and devices of the world's largest technology brands.

At the same time, there is a renewed craving for brands that are small, hand-crafted, and proudly analog. In partnership with the Columbia Business School, The Unconventionals brought together leaders from Shinola, Third Man Records, and the Alchemist (brewer of Heady Topper) at the annual BRITE Conference. We’re bringing the best of that discussion for listeners, along with new thinking and analysis that explores the role that scale, product quality, location, and story play in reviving categories and driving fierce loyalty.

Video Highlights

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Announcer:
Next, on PJA Radio’s The Unconventionals.

John:
It’s not just looking at your wrist and telling what time it is. It’s not just delivering alcohol to your bloodstream, and it’s not just flipping through a zillion digital songs. People need that connection to quality and to realness.

Mike:
That was John Kimmich, founder of the Alchemist Brewery. His flagship beer is Heady Topper, which you’ve probably heard of, even if you haven’t tasted it. John is a brewer and a maker, proudly so. His little brewery is also making a big impact, as are his fellow panelists from Columbia Business School’s BRITE Conference earlier this year. How a double IPA from a small brewer in Waterbury, Vermont got named the The World’s Best Beer several years running, it’s a good story. It’s a story that says a lot about the changing expectations and tastes of consumers. It’s a tale of disruption, of Darwinian gaps, of mission over marketing. In other words, a great story for The Unconventionals. This was also, by the way, the top-rated session at the Columbia conference, if we don’t mind saying so. It was a great discussion, so we’ll bring you the highlights on The Unconventionals. Here it is. Beer, Watches, and Records: What Can We Learn from the Revival of Craft?

Digital dominates our everyday lives, and we’re increasingly organizing our world around the software, platforms, devices, of the world’s largest technology brands. But, at the same time, we see a revival of brands that are independent and proudly analogue. Courtesy of the Columbia Business School Center on Global Brand Leadership, we’re going to hear from leaders of three such brands, and we’ll discuss the role that scale, product quality, location, and story play in reviving categories and driving fierce loyalty among customers. The voices you’ll be hearing. Ben Blackwell, who is Chief Archivist at Third Man Records in Nashville. That’s Jack White’s record label. You’ve already met John Kimmich, who’s co-founder of the Alchemist in Vermont. And Bridget Russo, who’s Chief Marketing Officer of the Detroit bay Shinola.

I’m Mike O’Toole, host of the Unconventionals and president of PJ Advertising. I’m moderating the panel, so you’re going to hear me every now and then as well.

I don’t know if people saw, there was a New York Times article in January, and it talked about the Frightful Five, and those are the big technology platform companies, Google, Apple, Microsoft, that are set up to dominate so much of our digital lives. I think the frightful piece of it is, we depend on those things. They’ve changed our lives. We’re all addicted to our devices, but we also worry about it. So I think we increasingly crave the small and the hand-crafted, and we root for categories that people wrote off at one point as dying, but are really coming back in a major way. That’s that this panel is going to be about. We’re going to look at the revival of craft through the lens of three industries that have gone through a notable resurgence.

John, I was wondering, do you have any stories about just how crazy people will go to get Heady?

John:
There’s a lot of crazy people out there. That is for sure.

We’ve experienced a steady amount of growth and notoriety from the day that we first started doing this. The first time I brewed Heady Topper was early in 2004. I can tell you tales of long lines and stuff like that, but the story that I find fascinating is the first time that Jen and I realized just what was going on. That there was something going on outside of us, outside of our business, that we, before then, had been pretty unaware of.

I had just finished brewing, I was up at the bar. I think I was cleaning a line, maybe putting a new beer on tap, and a gentleman came in just as we opened and he sat down. He ordered a Heady Topper. I said, “Ah, I just put that on today.”

He’s like, “Yeah, I know.”

I said, “Oh, okay.”

He had seen my tweet the previous day that it was on. He said, “I’m from Florida.”

I said, “Oh, great. Are you here … you know, what brings you to Vermont?”

He says, “This brings me to Vermont.”

I said, “You got to be kidding me.” I said, “You came here for Heady Topper?”

He’s like, “I bought my ticket last night because I got your tweet. I am here just for this beer, and I leave tomorrow.”

He sat at the bar for eight hours that we were open, and drank as much of it as he could, and that was it. Out the door he went.

Mike:
I want to just ask you, Bridget. If you think about craft as, exists somewhere at the intersection of high-quality products and mission or story, you’ve had that balance of different parts of your career, right?

Bridget:
Definitely. I was lucky enough back in 2004 to work with Bono and his wife on a small brand called Eden that they started, and they’re really pioneers in the area. Back then, the idea of conscious fashion just didn’t exist, and that’s when I really fell in love with this idea of storytelling through the supply chain. I come from a fashion background where, in fact, there was a curtain. You never communicated where you manufactured your products or showed pictures of who was making the product, and now that’s all changed.

Mike:
That’s a huge part of Shinola’s story.

Bridget:
It’s at the heart of what we do. Absolutely.

Mike:
Mr. Blackwell.

Ben:
Yes.

Mike:
Third Man Records. We know it’s Jack White’s record label. You’re obviously pressing Jack’s records, but you also produce records for other genres as well.

Ben:
Yeah, we do a little bit of everything. I like to say a good record label should be like a good record collection. It’s not just one thing. You should have rock and roll, and country, and hip hop. Maybe people know or have a friend who just loves rap music, and it’s great if you want to talk about rap music for a half hour. But then you want to say to them, “Don’t you like AC/DC? Can we talk about that?” That’s kind of a simplistic way of describing our approach. We love bits of everything, so we release bits of everything.

Mike:
What’s the least expected genre that you guys have …

Ben:
We’re released a record with Insane Clown Posse. We’ve done –

Bridget:
That was shocking.

Ben:
That was shocking. We literally had people say, “I will never buy any of your records again because you put this out.” It was an interesting collaboration with those guys rapping. The A-side was a reinterpretation of a Mozart song. Mozart kind of has this little known side where he did his after-hours stuff, so he had a song called “Leck mich im Arsch,” which translates in German to “Lick my Ass.” But he’s Mozart, so he gets a free pass, right? But when ICP sings it, people get mad and offended and they hate them.

Mike:
It’s truth, craft brands are not trying to sell to everybody, right? You’re trying to talk to fierce fans.

Ban is onto something big here. Big, mass-produced brands still exist, but they’ve lost their stranglehold. He actually went on to describe a spoken word record they pressed featuring Carl Sagan. It was pretty obscure stuff, but Third Man has sold 10,000 copies and continues to press new ones. Craft, or small-batch records in this case, can cater to small and idiosyncratic demand, demand that never got satisfied int eh age of mass-produced records.

This delivery on Long Tail interests explains a whole lot about the appeal of craft.

You operate in markets that used to be dominated by what’s going to sell the most and how can we bring it down to a lowest common denominator taste. I think each of your businesses does something the polar opposite. What’s in the culture that people are craving these brands? Bridget, can you take a crack?

Bridget:
I think, with everything, if everything goes in one direction and everything’s digital and people are feeling, in some ways, more disconnected than they were before … Connected in one way and disconnected in a human way, it’s sort of natural for people to crave and want that human experience. Retail isn’t dead, just the experience is different. I think as long as we’re human beings and want that sort of connection, to me it seems only natural that sometimes, “You know what? I just want my watch to tell me the time.”

Mike:
Smart enough, right?

Bridget:
Just smart enough.

Mike:
So it’s maybe a little bit of a reaction against the digital domination that we all sort of subscribe to, but rebel against.

John, when we were talking, there’s some other factors too, right? You’re talking about growing up in the 70’s and the kind of options we had as consumers.

John:
I think it’s a cultural rejection of this watering down of our society that was going on for years. All the sudden, as a child it’s … who’s going to eat Wonderbread? Who is ever going to eat that again? We were … I was raised in the midst of when it had already happened. When the giant corporations had taken over and had streamlined everything and, as you said, dumbed down everything to the point where they think everybody is going to like it.

Everybody’s eyes were opened up at some point along the way where they reject that and say, “No, there’s so much more to it than that.” It’s not just’ looking at your wrist and telling what time it is. It’s not just delivering alcohol to your bloodstream, and it’s not just flipping through a zillion digital songs. People need that connection to quality and to realness, and I think that’s what drives a lot of it. You want to be able to sit down and take the time, and to slow down and listen to a complete album. Who does that anymore? Not enough people. The appreciation of a finely made time piece. It’s not about just having something thrown out at you as cheaply as possible.

Mike:
Not just about accuracy.

John:
Yes.

Mike:
Anything you would add to what’s behind this, Ben?

Ben:
I would just say that if he wants to see people that eat Wonderbread, come down to Nashville.

Mike:
We are impatient, fickle consumers. We’re easily distracted by the latest thing. So, it’s fair to ask, is the return to craft and all that’s connected to it, is it a fad? The focus on the maker, product quality, Long Tail, small-batch production, dying segments that have new life. Will we get tired of these things and move on to the next? Or does their emergence reflect the more permanent reset of expectations and taste?

People are smart about jumping on fads, right? So, craft is a fad, now, too, so you have … Sure, you have a lot of imitators, Bridget. Warby Parker is a great brand and how many dozens have popped up to imitate what they do? I think there’s something about more permanent resetting, too. In the 70’s, you could choose from, like, seven beers if you were in America. I know that the scale for being able to be a brewer was like a million barrels. You’re happy at 10,000, right?

John:
Very happy. I remember as a kid, going to a restaurant and the waitress would come up and say, “Schmidt’s, Schlitz, or Michelob?” Those were your choices. You see it in the food industry, as well. There is an appreciation for quality. There is a desire to learn where these things come from, who makes them. What is that spiderweb that leads out from what you create? There’s a lot of people. It’s not just us. We have a trail of people behind us that help us do what we do, and they’re mostly very like-minded people, from small hop farmers in Oregon to … It’s a family-run malt business in England that supplies us our barley. It’s the world around, and it’s an issue of quality, I find.

Ben:
Interestingly enough, Kanye West … Not that he says a lot of things that he doesn’t follow up on, but he said yesterday, he said he was no longer releasing CDs. It’s going to be streaming and vinyl. That’s kind of my hope for the world. I hate CDs. They’re Frisbees and coasters at this point, but if people still want CDs, we’re going to make them until … We’re by no means trying to dictate how people have to listen to something, but in terms of market, it’s increasingly even harder for me to tell. I know if people want the Hateful Eight vinyl soundtrack, I can tell the demand on that when we put it out and we sell out really quick. “Okay, that’s a bigger demand than we thought.” But, that changes release to release, week to week.

John:
As far as my opinion on that, I see it as a sea change. When craft beer first came onto the scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it has done nothing but climb. It has been a long, hard road to readjust people’s palates to what we now create, but now that is it out there and we have done all that groundwork, the sky’s the limit. There are teenagers, as we speak, stealing double IPAs out of their dad’s fridge. They’re not stealing their Budweisers, necessarily. When they open that fridge, they’re not faced with the sea of Budweiser, it’s a fridge of craft beer. I can’t see that kid growing up someday and saying, “I can’t wait to have my first Miller Lite.”

Bridget:
The younger consumer’s a good point there. The under-30, the M-word … I hate saying it. But, that audience today are asking those questions, so it’s not this niche thing in a corner, or a fad. The consumer today, and for us it runs across many age groups, cares about where their products are coming from. Certainly the under-30 generation absolutely is asking these questions, so I definitely thing there’s opportunities, certainly. We’re passionate, but also it’s a business that we want to be profitable. So, we do believe in it, and it can be a business. It just, when it gets to the point of a big multinational corporation where it might be a little bit more difficult to achieve this kind of storytelling.

Mike:
Shinola did some focus groups where consumers said they would be willing to pay more for the same product made in Detroit versus somewhere else. Call it “the mission premium.” We’ll talk about that a lot more coming up.

[music 00:15:33]

Jafil:
You’re listening to the Unconventionals, a podcast produced and distributed by PJA Advertising. We’re always on the hunt for great business stories – not about share price or scale, but about the element of surprise. To find out how to apply the best practices and behaviors of companies like GE, Warby Parker, and Big Ass Fans to your business, visit our website agencyPJA.com.

Our academic sponsor is the Center on Global Brand Leadership at Columbia Business School, which turns the research of academia’s foremost thinkers on branding into practical tools and insight for real world application. To learn more, visit globalbrands.org.

Mike:
Welcome back. I’m Mike O’Toole and this is The Unconventionals. Today, a special edition. We’re bringing you the very best parts of a great panel discussion from Columbia Business School’s BRITE conference. It’s called Beer, Watches, and Records: What Can We Learn from the Revival of Craft?

Part of the allure of craft is that people want to connect more deeply with the products they choose. Brands need to have a backstory, and it’s all the better if buyers can verify the story for themselves. In this way, the fewer degrees of separation between the maker and the product, the better, which means small can be beautiful, as it is for Heady Topper. But craft doesn’t have to mean small. Sometimes a mission is dependent on scale, as it is for Shinola.

Somebody said yesterday that brand is now changed. Product marketing and corporate image were separate, now they’re coming back together. For your companies, it’s never been separated, right? It’s hard to imagine your product story absent your mission, Bridget.

Bridget:
It has to be part of what you do every day. So from HR to marketing to e-com to manufacturing, that has to be at the heart of what you do. I learned through Eden somewhat the hard way in that we had this great mission of increasing trade in Africa and creating jobs in Africa, but no one thought about the product. It was sort of an afterthought, and we naively put some product out there that we all weren’t that proud of, and it didn’t sell. It’s great that you have this lofty goal, but ultimately, if it’s driven b the sale of a certain product, that product needs to stand up to that mission, because ultimately, you’re making a promise to the consumer. Not only do you need to realize your mission through what you do socially, but also in those products. That’s why for us at Shinola, creating a product, first and foremost, that’s made to last, that is care in everything we do, including the box that it goes in. It had to be part of everyone’s job at the company.

Mike:
So you’re going to make all the products you guys sell. You won’t license, or is that …

Bridget:
We don’t manufacture everything ourselves, so we do assemble the watches and the bicycles and make some of our leather goods in Detroit. Otherwise, we work with partner factories in the US. Not all of the components come from the states, some of them come from overseas. Just simply, there isn’t the availability of the quality in the quantity that we need.

Mike:
There’s something, too, about Detroit in particular, and Ben, you should ring in on this, too. I would say just generally, it’s almost impossible to separate craft from place, and I think one thing craft has done is bring a sense of place and location back to products, which I think is really good. Did you say there was some research asking consumers if you would go out of your way to buy American, and I think it was sort of split. But, people would go out of their way to buy Detroit, or pay more? Is there something …

Bridget:
It was before my time at the company. I started sort of just after the beginning, but apparently there was a focus group that we did down in Dallas, and there was, I think it was, pencil, pen, something like that. Same price … Sorry, not the same price, looked the same, one was made in China, one was made in the USA, one was made in Detroit, and we asked, “Which one would you pay more for?” People said, if between made in the USA and made in China, they’d do made in China. They would prefer the cheaper made in China, that “made in the USA” really wasn’t meaningful, but that they would pay more for made in Detroit, and I think that just goes down to people want to know that level of detail.

I think that over the years, made in the USA has become diluted and what exactly does that mean? It’s something that, at least today, people are unsure of. Whereas made in Detroit, even if I’m not from Detroit, all of a sudden that conjures up something very specific in my mind and I feel more of a connection to it.

Mike:
You’re a maker business, too, Ben.

Ben:
Absolutely. Our primary focus for the first seven years of business has been acting as a record label, doing occasional live performances and merchandising, but mainly putting out records. Things have gotten so complex and protracted in terms of turn-around times in the vinyl business over this time period that we are actually expanding and setting up our own vinyl factory in our building in Detroit. So, we’ll have a record store you can walk into, you walk down a hallway, you can see these presses spitting out vinyl records to the tune of … These are the first new vinyl press machines made in about 35 years, and these are the first new ones in North America in that time,

Mike:
That’s a big thing, right? So, people probably know these numbers, but say that lowest point of records, mid 90s to mid 2000s. Less than a million records sold in this country. It’s now more than 14 million, and the record factories are working three shifts, right?

Ben:
Yeah, and these are machines, too, that were only ever made to run 8 hours a day, so you’re dealing with having to constantly repair the machines. Most plants are operating with the finest that mid 1950s and 1960s technology has to offer. So, it’s … for us, Third Man, we’ve been open 7 year, I think almost to the day. We’ve released over 350 titles. Across those 350 titles, we’ve pressed over two million pieces of vinyl.

To put that in perspective, the pressing plant that we primarily use at United Record pressing, which is two miles from our office in Nashville, so very, very close, a very, very good working relationship with them. Their biggest customer is Universal records. Big, huge, multinational corporation. Second biggest customer is Sony. Big, huge, multinational corporation. Their third biggest customer is Third Man Records, a label that didn’t even exist 8 years ago. One thing is because we’re a good face for vinyl. No one really looks at Sony and says, “Man, they’re doing so many great vinyl things.” It’s so big, it’s kind of hard to really get a feel on. But, for us, we do smaller, we do interesting, we do craft things and that gets noticed a lot more.

Mike:
There’s a side to the craft revival that is proudly small and homegrown. Think Etsy where the average seller makes about $1,000 a year. This can obscure the fact that the best indie brands command a big price premium and are driving the high end in their markets. This is a function of scarcity, buzz, and straight out quality.

There is also an interesting thing how the craft side of your industries, I’d say, beer and records, are really driving the bus these days in terms of the most interesting parts of the industry. Craft is what, like, 11% of beer by volume, but like 15% or 16% by sales. I don’t know if I have those numbers right.

John:
20%.

Mike:
20%?

John:
It’s funny, because there’s an article in the paper today that talks about InBev and how their attempts to buy up craft brewers and when they bought Goose Island out in Chicago and Ten Barrel out of Oregon, and you see them. They’re scrambling because they see their market share disappearing and to them, I don’t know if they totally understand why. I’m sure they do, but here they are. They’re grabbing large craft brewers, which is fine, but craft brewing as a whole isn’t being driven by these large craft breweries. It’s being driven by the little guys. The innovation, the creativeness is coming out of these little places, and it’s not going to change. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, people aren’t going to go back to drinking Schmidt’s, Schlitz, or Michelob. They’re hooked now and to us, quality is everything.

The marketing has all … We don’t have a marketing department. It’s Jen and I, with our ideas, and making our ideas real and bringing it to fruition. At the end of the day, none of that matters. If one of our customers opens a can of our beer and feels as though it has slipped and is not what it used to be, you’ve got nothing. All the marketing in the world isn’t going to change that. All of our growth has driven out of that. It’s word of mouth, people talking about it. “You’ve got to try this beer.”

Mike:
I think there’s a question about scale in there. Bridget, your mission, Shinola’s mission doesn’t limit you to being small. I think you guys want to get bigger, right?

Bridget:
We definitely do. In order to be sustainable and to create the amount of jobs we want to create, we absolutely have to be a certain size. But, I so think there’s a certain size where too big is too big, and I think there’s where many companies kind of fall into problems, where it becomes less about people and more about the bottom line, and that’s when decisions are made, and not necessarily good long-term decisions. We definitely have to reach … I don’t know exactly what that number is, but we have to reach a certain size in order to sustain our business. We’ve built a pretty big organization. Being in all these categories is not easy. Ultimately, we do want to create those jobs.

Mike:
Is there a way that you guys think internally about how do you maintain that balance, like you’re getting bigger but you’re staying true to …

Bridget:
Every day we talk about it. It’s something that every single person in the organization, certainly the executive team, talk about, “How do we make sure within the organization that people still feel connected, that there’s still that human touch? How does that feel 20 stores in? 100 stores in?” It’s something that we talk about an think of every day, and it’s a priority, basically.

Mike:
Scarcity keeps the demand high. Fundamentally, it’s got to be a great product first, right? The fact that it’s harder to find means that … it’s hard, in New York. If you want to go, you got to go up to … I’m interested in that, too. Is there a sense that scarcity can mean something rare that is worth going out of your way for. Ben, you probably have … your 45 example is connected to that.

Ben:
Absolutely. Everything that Third Man releases on vinyl, we kind of have two different lanes that we operate. One is the limited edition usually colored vinyl version of a record, and that can be as few as 150 copies, maybe. Probably no more than 300. Then we have our standard issue black vinyl, that’s in-print for a very reasonable price forever. So, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was released, you can go to our website, you can go to any respectable record store and you can find it. The idea behind limited edition stuff is record collectors are a truly mad bunch of people. There’s an idea of … It’s part of collecting records is the hunt, the look for something. For example, we have a record hat we released called The Triple Decker Record, which is basically a 7″ vinyl 45 sealed inside a 12″, and the only way you can get to it is break it, and it’s this kind of idea of, “Do you buy records because you want to listen to them, or because you want to have an object?” Anyway, we made 300 of those, we sold them out of our store front $30 each. That same day, they were selling for $500 on Ebay. Some might say we should just be selling them for $500, but it’;s kind of more about creating something than necessarily getting the most amount, maximizing the profits off of it.

John:
Which is funny, because you use the words “scarcity” and to Jen and I, for 8 and a half years, I don’t think I ever brewed more than 400 barrels in a year in that pub. Now we make over 9,000 barrels a year, and people tell us that we’re purposefully limiting our production and accusing us of that. It’s like, you got to be kidding me. I’m making an ocean of beer in my opinion, and when people accuse us of that and say, “Oh, well, I should be able to get that in California!” it’s like, “Should you?” I don’t think you should. The reference I always use is when I come to Manhattan, I go to Lombardi’s. I don’t complain that I can’t get my large cheese pizza from Lombardi’s in Vermont. I look forward to it. When I come to the city, I know I’m going to get it. When I walk in the door, I might not be back for five more years, but I’m not going to complain about it. I’m going to look forward to that next time you can get it.

Mike:
When I was early in my advertising career, I liked to quote Lincoln’s first inaugural when I talked about brand. That is, brands have always been aspirational, and at their best, they appeal to the better angels of our nature. What I’ve come to see or learn is often as not, this is bullshit. But, I think with craft and indie businesses, this can be much more true. That we love maker business, not because they’re intermediated by ads, but because we can judge for ourselves whether they are what they say they are. It is harder to pass off a bullshit story in an era when we have access to the kind of information we have today.

Brands have always been about the stories. You buy a brand in part because the story it allows you to tell about yourself. Bridget, you and I have talked about how luxury brands maybe are suffering a bit because people don’t necessarily want to just tell the story about “see this fancy label,” they want to affiliate with something deeper. For Shinola, what story does owning a Shinola watch, for instance, allow people to tell about themselves, or when they talk to their friends?

Bridget:
It’s interesting because I’ll fly around for work or whatever and I’ll be one a plane, not just one going back and forth to Detroit, and I’ll see somebody with a watch on, and I’ll say, “Oh, nice watch.”

They launch into the story of “Oh my God, do you know Shinola? Shinola is this brand, they’re based in Detroit, oh, check it out. Go to their website.”

Mike:
“Yes, I’ve heard of that.”

Ben:
I’ve been with you, heard this exact same thing. Which was when we were out to eat … Not to steal your story.

Bridget:
No, no.

Ben:
We were out to eat in Nashville with a couple other … with Jacques and Tom who are the other big leagues at Shinola. I think big leagues if the official term, right?

Bridget:
Yes.

Ben:
And Jacques … IT’s a dark steakhouse, and Jacques looks probably about 30 feet away and says, “That guy’s wearing a Shinola.” Wow, pretty cool, eagle eyes. The guy walks past going to the restroom or something, and Jacques says, “Hey, you like that watch?” and absolutely everything Bridget says totally happens.

“Oh, my God. There’s this company from Detroit …” and he goes on for about five minutes and Jacques is just shaking his head like, “Yeah, that’s our company.”

And the guy … “Really?”

Like, “Yeah, if you ever make it to Detroit, come on by and we’ll show you around the factory,” and the guy was just …

He had multiple watches, he’s like “I’ve got three of them at home.”

Bridget:
He went on and on. He invited Jacques to see some-

Ben:
They were going to a hockey game!

Bridget:
That was it, yeah.

Mike:
Is there a better experience for a Chief Marketing Officer to have?

Bridget:
It’s amazing, and what I really love about it is, so far every time I’ve heard the story told back to me, it’s accurate. That part is so important, because I have worked for other companies and people say, “Oh, yeah, that brand that does this.” You’re like, “Ooh, God, no. That’s not it.” That part is really exciting to me.

Ben:
I think it’s the idea that now more than ever, you can have near infinite options in anything you do in your life, whether it’s what kind of music you listen to , how you listen to that music, what kind of beer, what kind of watch, whereas before, pre-internet proliferation, you were kind of limited to what effort you were willing to put into something. Now if that just meant, “I need a watch. I’m going to go to Sears. Whatever they have at Sears is my availability.” Now people have the ability to, if you want to be really, really knowledgeable and know deeply about where your beer comes from or who pressed the record that you’re looking to buy, you have the ability to do that, whereas even 15, 20 years ago, that would have just been near impossible.

Mike:
This is Mike O’Toole, and you’ve been listening to The Unconventionals. Thanks to Columbia University, the Center on Global Brand Leadership, and to Matt Quint at the BRITE conference for their partnership and for giving us permission to air this show.

You can probably tell this, but we love the Shinola story. We’re big fans of Heady Topper, and we’re fascinated by the revival of vinyl. In fact, we have separate episodes of the Unconventionals dedicated to these stories. Check them out at our archives at agencypja.com/theunconventionals.

Jafil:
The unconventionals is written and produced by Mike O’Toole with Reid Mangan. Production and technical direction by Reid Mangan. Promotion and distribution by Greg Straface and Graham Spektor. Additional media by Anthony Gentles and Ryan Doe with Ehis Osifo.

Our executive director is Phil Johnson with PJA Advertising and Marketing. I’m Jafil Lehee. To listen to more episodes of the Unconventionals, visit agencypja.com/theunconventionals.

Mike:
This is PJA Radio.

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THE UNCONVENTIONALS

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Brand for change

Life is too short to build an ordinary brand. Get ongoing perspectives on marketing that creates your highest value opportunities.