Joe Jaffe is back. Jaffe, who began his career in the post-digital advertising and marketing scene as a columnist for MediaPost before launching his own, next-generation agency, Crayon, returns as a regular MediaPost contributor beginning with his new op-ed column, which will appear weekly in Online Media Daily. The column, which will focus on the intersection of the advertising, branding and technology start-up worlds, is described by Jaffe as “Madison & Mountain View,” but its ultimate focus will be to explore the innovation taking place in both industries and where they can benefit a brand and its consumers.
“I’m still an antagonist,” says Jaffe, who also returned to an official business role earlier this year with the launch of Evol8tion, a new age agency of sorts created to match consumer brands with promising technology start-ups.
It is Jaffe’s first start-up since launching Crayon in 2006 with its focus on the “conversation,” or the emerging practice of social media and conversational marketing. He sold Crayon to Powered in 2009, and remained an advisor through 2011. Jaffe, who is also the author of three books that define major shifts in the advertising business, including “Life After The 30-Second Spot,” “Join The Conversation,” and “Flip The Funnel,” says he’s also working on a new one, which will explore how technological innovation is transforming brands and consumer relationships.
Jaffe currently is a personal embodiment of such changes, having lost 40 pounds and gotten himself back down to fighting, start-up weight, thanks to his use of Nike’s Fuel Band technology and a Weight Watchers program. He even utilized social media -- blogging about his personal weight loss challenge -- to motivate and reinforce his efforts.
The resumption of his column on MediaPost, he says, is an extension of that logic, and his goal is to lay out his vision and observations so that they can be publicly vetted, commented on, and tried by fire, because he doesn’t simply want to be an “antagonist,” but also a “catalyst” to help marketers, tech firms and agencies transition.
The model for Evol8tion is actually pretty simple, and more akin to a classic Hollywood talent agency than a Madison Avenue creative, branding or media services shop. The business model is based on a view of start-ups and tech firms as potential “talent” that can be matched with brands to achieve their consumer marketing and/or service goals.
Sometimes those relationships will lead to branding campaigns and/or executions. In other cases, he says, they will lead to new business models, services, product offerings, and even equity investments and outright acquisitions of tech firms by consumer brand marketers.
Jaffe says he’s already “piloted” a handful of such deals, and today is publicly announcing a new one: a deal matching Anheuser-Busch’s Brazilian beer brand Skol with San Francisco start-up Switchcam, which has developed a patented video and Web-crawling technology that identifies user uploaded video from live events. The technology enables users to connect the footage to create a “seamless viewing experience where users can control multiple camera angles and jump through set lists.”
Jaffe says the pilot yielded positive results and “social and consumer KPIs,” or key performance indicators for the Skol brand, and was deemed a success. He says he hopes to have “seven or eight” similar pilot tests implemented by the end of the year, with plans to accelerate Evol8tion’s match-making next year.
The core of his model, he says is a MatchMaker, a proprietary database of start-up technologies and business models, which are matched to brand goals and attributes. He says the database currently includes more than 400 start-ups, and will grow into the thousands early next year.
“Start-ups are technology-centric, but brand ignorant,” Jaffe explains, adding: “Brands are idea-centric, and brand health-centric, but they are technology ignorant, or technology challenged. But what do they have in common? The consumer.”