Social Media Theory in Practice: Real Client, Limited Budget, No Time

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I recently had the chance to work with a great brand, Brine (top lacrosse brand in the country), and their partner ad agency, JWT Detroit (whose digital arm and Honest deserve huge props for building the site and app so quickly). The challenge was to bring a little edge to the brand without cannabilising the sense of unity and sportsmanship already associated with the Brine. Working with creative director, Matthew Jacobsen, and art director, Greg Bokor, we came up with the concept of the Brine Tribe. This platform allowed us to use social media to bring a sense of tribal connectedness to life. Here’s how it worked.

1. Visit the Join the Tribe site. Taking our visual cues from African tribal masks, our audience (8-18 year old lacrosse players) could literally create self-portraits of themselves out of the clients products. (Needless to say the client was thrilled to have customers investing themselves so completely in the brand.)

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2. Players could generate a mask in 3 ways: i) Remix, which gives you a base mask to work from. ii) Template, which gives you a blank canvas or a stenciled background to work from, along with a choice of male or female equipment. iii) Equipment by category (mirror mode is handy for this), or pick by facial feature (which offers you a choice of equipment pre-created to look like eyes, mouth, nose).

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3. Players would then drop and drag the elements on to a canvas or into the template.

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4. Adjust the size of different elements.

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5. Then finally download their finished mask in a whole bunch of standard sizes (iPhone, chat icon, game icon, screen saver) and save it to the gallery for all to see.


6. Driving traffic to the site was a TV campaign – shot by director, Benzo Theodore and the great people at Park Pictures and D Train – and, naturally, an online campaign.

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In the first few days players generated a dozen masks. A week later it was 1400. Today it’s a round 2500. Now the masks are being shared in myriad ways across different technology and social media.

Instead of Brine imposing itself on potential customers, players and teams around the country were allowed to express their passion for the game through the brand and then share it with others. As ever, it’s emotion, and not the tools, that people share, and in doing so they build brands. So while the budget and time were limited, the campaign was a great exercise in five social media fundamentals:

  • Establish connection through emotion (in this case the players’ passion for the game)
  • Provide tools that can be customized and personalized (after all, people build social networks not brands)
  • Get out of the way (with the customer firmly in control, the role of a brand is to enable and assist, not dictate)
  • Give freely (brands must trade in the currency of goodwill and that has to be earned)
  • Get people talking (by giving people something to share you start conversations around your brand than ensure its longevity through customer loyalty)

Ultimately, the true power of social media (specifically), and emerging technology (in general), is the creativity early adopters display in using it. Once a brand understands the organic nature and dynamic of social media, it can create tools that direct customer behavior to their advantage, as long as those brands have the best interests of their customers in mind.

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