Ray Powell is the CEO for STIR, Brands + Entertainment – a Nashville-based agency focused on bringing the worlds of brands and digital entertainment together through compelling marketing partnerships. STIR works with industry-leading digital publishers and content creators that create high-quality branded content distributed at scale. Before launching Stir, Ray headed up entertainment brand partnerships for Awesomeness TV, 20th Century Fox and Disney music group. Ray sits down with Chris Snyder to discuss how STIR helps publishers monetize their content.
This episode is sponsored by Juhll. They are a full service digital marketing consultancy that has over 20 years of experience helping your business grow sales online. They've helped most of their clients grow more than 50% year over year by helping them meet their digital marketing goals.
Juhll Digital Agency works with companies who are doing $50 million in top line revenue that have a marketing budget of $2 million. They build your company from the ground up and they also help you in creating a strategy that will work best for your team.
"If you're going to have to worry about your job: bet on yourself." - Ray Powell
"Entertainment is an incredibly powerful vehicle for marketing and brands." - Ray Powell
[00:00:44] Hello, everyone, Chris Snyder here, host of the Snyder Showdown, president at Juhll Agency, and founder of startup Banks.com. On this show, we take a no B.S. approach to business success and failure told through the stories of the top executives who have lived them. Join us today as we get the unfiltered backstories behind successful brands. Quick message from our sponsor. Juhll is a full service digital consultancy and we focus on helping executives solve their toughest digital growth problems while working as an extension of the executive team. To learn more, you can go to Juhll.com. Or you can email me directly. It's Chris@Juhll.com. Ray Powell is the CEO for STIR Brands Entertainment, a Nashville based agency focused on bringing the worlds of brands and digital entertainment together through compelling marketing partnerships. STIR works with industry leading digital publishers and content creators that create high quality branded content distributed at scale. Before launching STIR, Ray headed up entertainment brand partnerships for Awesomeness TV. 20TH Century Fox Disney Music Group. Ray is here today to share with us how Stir helps publishers monetize their content. Welcome to the show, Ray.
[00:02:08] Thank you. Thank you for having me.
[00:02:10] Absolutely. Well, let's dove right in here. We'd like to hear a little bit of the buzz about the back story. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and how you got to where you are today.
[00:02:21] Well well, I'm originally from Jacksonville, Florida, a thriving metropolis of branded entertainment. Now, I know I came from a I grew up in a pretty plain middle class background, middle class family.
[00:02:39] I have I've always been pretty enterprising. I bought it for whatever reason. I've always born and grew into marketing and promotions ever since I was a kid. And I've always wanted more than what I had or had access to.
[00:02:56] And even as a kid, I realized that I needed money to buy that skateboard or whatever it is they wanted. So I'd always find ways to drum up business. And it's always been, you know, not another look back in my life, boys, and marking in some way. And I look back at my first, I would say my first real job, but I was 13, so I don't think was completely legit.
[00:03:21] But I worked for a perfect Domino's Pizza and I was the guy who had put the door hangers, the coupons I would hang from their doorknobs. You'd find those in your doorknob. So I would get up. They drop off a box of these these fliers. And I love the dog. I mean, I got paid off, like, literally a few bucks an hour and I'd walk around my neighborhood and put these on people's door, isn't I? I got strategic and I focus on Friday and Saturday afternoons when I know people were probably ordering pizza and they know it's what I loved about it. The odds with you was the fact that I had carte blanche on ordering pizza whenever I wanted it and it would be delivered to me.
[00:04:08] And you guy. You got three bucks an hour, but you got ten dollar pizzas for free, whatever you wanted.
[00:04:14] I mean, don't under. And it wasn't even really the money. It was. Don't underestimate how cool it is to be with your 30 year old friends and to be able to order a pizza. No questions asked, you know. And it would show up whenever you want it. That's better. But, you know, it's so funny because there are parallels to, you know, my life and what I've done. And in terms of marketing, it, it's really what I do now is just an over glorified version of putting coupon fliers on people's on people's doorknobs.
[00:04:47] But, yes, that's, you know, kind of went on from there, majored in marketing, business, marketing and college. I was always into the consumer behavior aspects of marketing and the science behind it. And I fell into entertainment, marketing and a bit of a nontraditional way. I, I interned at a jazz magazine during college and that was really, you know, that took a couple of switches for me. One being. Wow. You know, entertainment is awesome. And this is such an incredible medium for brands. And two, it was a the magazine was run by a husband and wife team, was a small magazine, was huge as global. But that operation was small and the dodge for Norburg. And I just saw, like, you know, the possibilities of what can be done. I enjoyed the lifestyle and, you know, that was my first to be my first job out of college was a marketing coordinator at Jazzes magazine working for Michael Fagan. Great guy. Don't touch this guy more than 20 years later. And you know that I had an amazing gig sponsoring global jazz festivals and going out. Yeah. The 21 year old kid going out to make a jazz festival and acid jazz festival.
[00:06:13] Oh, wow. And working work in the sponsor booth there. So that was really kind of what got me started working with brands and entertainment to this day and kind of that whole entrepreneurial angle.
[00:06:26] Yeah. No, that's super interesting. I mean, I think all of us. It's interesting how you say you kind of fell into it. I think there's probably people that are. That are similarly aged today that fell into commercial real estate when they first came out of college or they fell into insurance or financial services banking, and it's like it's almost it's kind of funny. It's almost like the first person that comes to the job fair right before you graduate. That gives you a chance to get. That's kind of what you're doing.
[00:06:59] Kinda. I you know, I always had it so funny because, you know, going through college, I always told myself, you know what I'm going to do? I want to focus on what I enjoy and what is that. And narrowed it down to two things, entertainment and cereal. And I was convinced that you are going to go into entertainment or I was going to go into cereal. I was passionate about both at the time. Still am to a certain degree on both, but. Yes. But, you know, I had had a bit of a direction. I think I just got lucky with the fact that there was a world, a global jazz magazine that was in my area.
[00:07:40] Well, it looks like you spent it looks like you spent some time at Knisley and Live Nation and Matel. Tell us a little bit about how you go from this. This what you describe as a smaller jazz publication, doing live events. Now, that makes little sense. You got to live nation. Maybe, but how do you I mean, how do you get into Nazli? How do you get in a motel? These are juggernauts from a brand. Yeah. Wait, how did you walk us through that?
[00:08:08] Have a serendipity the way that jazz is. I left to start my own business. You know, if anyone had told me how how hard it was gonna be, I would have done it. But I started producing concerts. I was booking to venues in Gainesville, Florida, where I actually went to school, etc.. I graduate. I stayed in the city. I started managing bands because those just now I was running in those circles. Then I was part of a festival production team. And the you know, I got into the brand side because I started going after sponsors for the artists that we were managing in the shows that we were producing. And the first big brand I landed for it to the bands I was working with, Lee Jagermeister and a Jagermeister everyone's favorite black liquor that they don't consume after age 25.
[00:09:16] But Jagermeister was a brand sponsor for our our artists and be in the early 2000s.
[00:09:27] They launched Jagermeister, launched with Live Nation's predecessor, was Clear Channel Entertainment. At five, they launched the first Big Jagermeister music tour and it was a big Magette three four tour bus with a SMI tour that went around to a large venue that had major artists on it. And the first the first show, the tour happened to be in Florida, in Orlando. And, you know, my relationship with with Jagermeister, I went and I was enamored by just the production of it with the tour busses. It is, as you can imagine, anyone would be when you're in your early 20s. And I said to Jagermeister guy at the time, a guy named Rick Zeiler who spoke with Sprint, I just you know, I'll be your free assistant on this tour if you just let me go on this tour.
[00:10:21] Yeah. Cause other people have to pay for tickets. I get to ride. I get to be a roadie and I get to drink all the free Yag I want.
[00:10:29] That's all he has. That's all I've got to say right now.
[00:10:33] But, you know, I was in a position where I could do that for a few days and I did. And I went and I busted my ass and, you know, I didn't sleep much and putting up banners and posters and yeah, I was just a basically an assistant on the road. But anyway, they required me for the entire tour and I dropped everything for the for the road and went on this tour, their channel. And they've hired me as a tour manager after that for another tour that they were doing for the NBA. And then after that, I, I literally left in Winton. I lived in Costa Rica for a little while. Decided to go to business school and made my way out to Los Angeles. I went to USC is our school of business for my MBA. And that is out of you know, during my MBA there I got internship at we learned a lot. There it was.
[00:11:26] I got the internship at NASA because I was really into the candy aspect of it. I thought it would be fun out of. Out of USC, out of business school, I was recruited to Mattel, and Mattel is a big, big company that recruits NBA out of out of USC. And I spent some time at Mattel as a brand manager on a game brand that that leverages the Disney license.
[00:11:56] And so that's really where I got a taste of working with brands and their team and on a much bigger scale than I was with. They had just Jagermeister doing talk shows flex time.
[00:12:06] So let's talk about Brand. It has been a little bit because, you know, depending on what side of the fence you're on is this. I actually had someone on the show. We talked deeply about this this traditional path of brand management. So when you went to USC was your focus? Because I think you can focus when you go get your MBA. I don't have one, so I don't know. But finance brand. International, I'm assuming you focused on brand at USC?
[00:12:36] Yeah, it's it's pretty much it's finance, marketing, consulting. And you can sneak in there. You can start to narrow down a little bit more beyond that. But traditionally, coming out of business school, it's the marketing path is as a brand manager got in.
[00:12:54] So you're you're a you know, obviously you're familiar with marketing. You're familiar with promotions. You've been doing this stuff since you were a kid. But how hard was it to go to Mattel, which I mean, today and even back then was this is a premier brand and you're in charge. You're a brand manager for a games portfolio, I think. But what what prepared you to be a brand manager? What were the duties? What was your job? What did you have to do?
[00:13:28] Nothing really prepared me. You know, this is one of those gigs you kind of get in and you're just you're starting. You start drinking from the firehose, you know, taking a step back.
[00:13:39] You know, I went to business school honestly, because I didn't know what else to do at the time. And I've been touring with Yagur in the NBA. I didn't know what to do. I'm living in Costa Rica. I still get my MBA and that type of me on the path. I signed up at Nazli. And I learned a lot about marketing at Nazli. One of these actually learned the most is that I didn't want to work at a company like Nestle. It was nothing as a fantastic company. It could upset the nature of the products and the brands. There are a bit of very stable. And so I thrive in a fast paced condition. And so coming out of business school, quite honestly, Mattel was like the type of company that I'm going to be a great manager. That's where, you know, it's toys. It's a new toy. It's a new line. Twice a year. It's very fast paced. It's following trends. It's entertainment focused. And I landed in a position that allowed me to focus on literally entertainment license francina. I'm working with game brands that license Disney. Harry Potter. You know, we worked and we're working on Pirates, the Caribbean type of branded game. And so, you know, it's the delay type of preparation they really had was just a lot of the love of what we learned in business school. And it's the basis of how to run a business just by understanding the different facets that come along with that, with pulling a big brand like that together. Now, that's finance and your sales and just understanding the spreadsheets and no understanding how to run a peno. So that's that's the preparation. A fantastic company may a lot of good friends there that are actually some are still there. But, you know, again, as fun as Mattel was, it was still a bit corporate for me and for kind of, you know, my my taste and my speed.
[00:15:36] And I end up going from Mattel to a company called Davy Brown Entertainment, which is an ad agency essentially that works with brands and finds ways for them to work with the various pillars of entertainment, whether it's film or TV or music. And so I went in on the music team, inside the music background that you had experience do it.
[00:16:01] Do you play an instrument yourself for you man stuff?
[00:16:05] No, I play I play instruments. I was in the band. I play guitar plays. I play a lot managements really badly, which is why I'm on this side of the instrument, not on the down the playing side.
[00:16:17] Yeah, I was watching those guys and they just seemed to be having such a good time. And I think about it, I'm like, that does not look that hard. And then you you pick up a guitar, something, and you just it just sounds like. Like when I do it anyway, it sounds like shit. I'm like, either those guys are really talented or I just need to work a lot harder at this stuff.
[00:16:34] So I know the feeling. You're talented for sure. Yeah.
[00:16:40] You know, the other comment I was going to make. You've seen it. Have you seen that movie Big by Tom Hanks? Sure. Yeah. So I was just thinking about, you know, Mattel. That movie came to my mind. And for our audience, I mean, I think about maybe you going to work every day. It just kind of like fucking around. Right around with toys. Is that what it sounds? Yeah. Or spreadsheets in toys.
[00:17:07] Yeah, it was. Unfortunately, I wish it so much on the marketing side. I think it's a little more spreadsheets and toy. But I would tell you, I mean, we had a part of our job was playing with toys a certain degree and being familiar with it so that it was a definite fun. If you have to be a brain manager and you're managing a piano and a business, the toys is a very cool way to go.
[00:17:32] No, no, it's interesting. I lived in Malibu for a while and Jack's Pacific. I used to drive by every day on my way to Santa Monica. And I'm like, what would they actually do in there? I met a couple of people and they're like, we would build toys, man. That's cool. Yeah.
[00:17:49] So it's it's of the day. It's still a business. And it's even though it's a fun product, it's still a product that has to find it has to make sense in terms of its cost and how much it's going to make. So I find stay on shelves and people have to buy it.
[00:18:02] Yeah, well, and it's super competitive, too. I mean, I feel like there's just millions and millions and millions of skews. I mean, we are I have two kids. I know you have a couple of kids. It's like the the options if you walk down a target aisle or you go you go into Amazon, the new aisle, the digital aisle, you're like, oh, my your brain's going to you almost let your kids do it because you want to screw it up.
[00:18:26] Well, you know, the toy industry has a lot of parallels with the music industry. It's very hip driven. So you can you can put a lot of toys out. But, you know, it's the ones that really take off and become trend. Those are the big winners. And a lot of times the losers are financed on the back of those big winners out of industry.
[00:18:47] Yeah, and the videogame industry is the same the same deal. Do you consider videogames also in the same industry as toys or is that different?
[00:18:56] I think that you can probably it's in the same sentence. The music industry, the games industry. Toys in the entertainment industry are probably all very similar in a number of different regards.
[00:19:07] Yeah. So you found your way through promotions and brand. You stuck your knitting with music. You had a chance to be the director of brand development at Davy Brown Entertainment. Where were you? Downtown L.A. with all the hipsters?
[00:19:20] What was going on? No, we were West L.A. definitely no hipsters. It was it was in a in a kind of an industrial area of West L.A.. But I got hired for to run the XM radio account. And this was before they merged. Serious. It was fantastic experience. I created the Kenny Chesney Stadium concert series there. Kenny Chesney was a was workmans with XM at the time. And we created this tailgate concert series that, you know, he plays stadium. Right. And so he created this on the stage outside the stadiums, branded XM Radio.
[00:20:08] And in the day, you know, before the gates even opened the step, one of the things about key Tasi concerts that we found is that, yeah, I mean, the parking lots are packed hours and hours before for people tailgating. So we did we did a stage in the parking lot and Kenny and his friends would come down in the afternoon and play set an acoustic set for free on this spring and stage and call it the KHL. The X marks the spot. So you look at it X, M X marks the spot anyway, x XM Radio merger serious in the merger. Lots of people were laid off. Our agency got let go. I found myself at the agency as a guy with no account, which is not an enviable place to be at an agency. And so, you know, I was told, look, you know, their situation is this. She can find a way to bring on a client to bring on. You can have it. If not, it just doesn't look good. Prognosis is not good. Yeah. So I reached out to Jagermeister and my contact Jagermeister and. And at the time, it was being run by another agency. This is a year, a few years down the road. And I said, hey, I want to pitch you for the business pitch then. And one business, every agency won the business.
[00:21:30] So I you know, I went from the Jagermeister sponsored band to the low lowly assistant working for free on a couple of shows to the producer of the tours. And. And we produced some big shows with you know, we had a couple of big rock shows, bands like Korn. We did a a tour with Penny Wise, a local holiday favorite. We launched the country tour with Pat Green. We did a country toured Eric Church, who is now one of the biggest artists in the world.
[00:22:06] And that was a fantastic experience. You know, is it soup to nuts? Everything from, you know, finding the artists going on the road and running the tours. So that was, you know, it kind of went out, you know, on the corn tour. My boss at the time left Davey Brown and went to Disney to head up the marketing for what Disney records and gave me the opportunity of going with him.
[00:22:32] You know what I want to ask you? I want to ask you a question about that moment where shit hit the fan. Everyone was gonna get laid off and they basically said, hey, make it happen or leave is what it sounds like. And, you know, we've owned and operated an agency here for a long time. And I think that's that's unfortunate. When you when you have a client, they leave and you've got, you know, dedicated teams on this stuff, you've got to figure something out. But did you feel like that was a breakthrough moment for you when you're like, wait a second, almost suck it up here and make this happen and you close that deal. How did that make you feel? Was that a big moment in your life?
[00:23:06] Of course, it was a pivotal moment. You know, I think that it's. I think people are, in general more creative and resourceful. They may give ourselves credit for. You know, it's I mean, it wasn't a panic moment. I certainly understood that. Shit. I'm going to have to go get a new job. And this and this, by the way. This was happening right during the big recession. This is two thousand eight, 2009. Yeah. No, it wasn't a great outlook, you know, for it. For jobs. Yeah. You know, it was a situation where a business development kind of guy anyway, and I didn't really have the problem with going out and buying the business. Of course, you know, I had the vested interest in finding the business because it was my lifeline for the company. And quite honestly, it came right at it. It came right at the deadline. Came right in the nick of time. I mean, within the day. So, yeah, I was elated and I was elated to keep the job and all those related related because the nature of the business, of the work that was going to be doing, I was very familiar with the brand. I knew what I knew exactly what it needs to be done. So there was a level of comfort and I knew, like, how much fun it was kind of be. Yeah. I'm like, this is this is going to be great. So, yeah, it was one of those points in life where I think that, you know, we all kind of at some point to hopefully see this. And certainly in my life. Just when a pillar of support is crumbled beneath me, another wing comes in just in time, you know, to provide the support. Not by luck necessarily. I mean, certainly the level of luck and anything, you know, trying to be the right right place, the right time, but getting resourceful and and, you know, identifying the problem and figuring it out and going to fighting to bring that support him.
[00:25:06] Yeah. You know, it's really interesting. And I mean, you get in a rut, especially if you've had some success and you tend to ride on those coattails for a number of months or even years in some cases. And then when shit really does hit the fan, you get you get a lot of constraints. There's constraints now. And, yeah, when constraints are put on you. Well, most people, most entrepreneurs anyway, like you and I and others out there that have figured this out. You get into problem solving mode. I don't really get too angry about the stuff. I just go, OK, sweet. There's a problem to solve. We now have constraints. Let's go get it. Let's go get it done. So it's almost like it would be interesting if we could figure out a way to put unnatural constraints on her selves. Yeah. So we're not so fucking lazy and complacent in what we're doing because that's what happens. It's happened to me. Sure. It's happened you it's happened to the best of us. But we just get on the treadmill and we just kind of walk it out. Right? We jog it out. We're not sprint and we're not doing intervals. We just kind of there. And we needed. I think we need stuff like this every once in a while to help us out for sure.
[00:26:16] I think that that is that complacency is, first of all, datum. It's a false it's an illusion. You know, I think we're seeing that now before. The big sell off having a full time job was job security, and, you know, I know that I had this job. Well, you know what? You know, we saw with coded furloughs and layoffs happen within a week. You know, there is no there's no loyalty. And, you know, if you're going to my thought as always, then if you're if you're going to have to worry about your job. Bet on yourself. Yeah. You know, you're not going to you're not going to. That answer is not to get a full time job. And you don't have to worry about having a job. I mean, we're seeing so many people out of work right now. I mean, in a blink of an eye, that's all it takes. Something like that to happen. And so my my philosophy and the reason I'm doing what I'm doing is that, you know what? If, you know, having a job doesn't provide that level of security like we all thought it did. It does give a feeling to what you can achieve for the most part. And if as if I could be worrying about having a job anyway, I'm going to have to hustle. I'm going to hustle and better myself and remove that feeling so that the sky's the limit. Of course, there's no flaw either, right?
[00:27:39] Yeah. You forgot your part, Ray. That's not that bad.
[00:27:44] But estimates says. But I think what we're seeing is there's not really a flaw with a full time job either. So, you know, look, if if you're happy with the illusion, then that's that's fine. I like having that little element of danger. It's the driving. It's the metaphor. Driving with a dagger in your steering wheel. You're going to drive a certain way when you know the dagger right there. And I like the element of danger in the fact that the stakes are a little bit higher because that and I think as it gets you really to when the stakes are a little bit higher, you tend to push yourself harder, get a little more creative about what you're doing.
[00:28:20] Yeah. I love this. I love your perspective on this. I share that. And one thing I learned, it was, you know, I'm in my mid 40s now, but I had a lot of jobs, corporate jobs. You fly to New York, you have your suit and tie. You walk your bullshit. You get in the elevator, you go up. You go to the conference room. You talk to people that don't give a shit. They don't want you there. You sign the paper, you leave. And there's an illusion that this is all good. But in my mind, there was always other meetings that were happening at the company, at the quote unquote executive level. They were making decisions for me. I mean, I took it very personally when shit hit the fan and as a as a business development person or an enterprise sales person or someone on the front lines with customers, I always felt like I knew what we should be doing because I was the one talking to the customers. And then you bring it back to management. They're like, well, we're not going to do that because I went to Harvard or whatever, or if I have been sit in this chair for a long time in, you know what, kid? Just go do what you're told. You can sell anything you want as long as it's red, white or blue and just stick to the program. And I think you get capped out, you get up into that maybe 200 K a year range and it becomes really risky up there. Your territory starts to shrink, your commissions shrink, your number gets bigger, and then you kind of go, well, wait a second, you guys pull down, you know, ten million dollars for this company this year in an annuity services that are going to go on for 20 years. And I get nothing out of this. Right. So you get to a point where you know that you're not going to fail. So the floor that you talk about there is a floor. But when you bet on yourself and you know, you've never went into the basement, it becomes a lot easier to just bet on yourself, on all the upside, in the upside. You work for yourself is really, really good. Really?
[00:30:19] No, not even just in terms of money. I mean, it's it depends on your personality. But the upside for me, it also includes just like the flexibility did, being able to do what I want to do. And this comes from somebody who doesn't like being told what to do. And that's not that. But to me, that's that's valuable. And I think about that quite a bit. You know, it's yes, there is the money can be great. And that's certainly should be a driver for you. But, you know, if you're not into the lifestyle of it, that's certainly something to think about, too.
[00:30:55] Yeah, man, there's nothing like waking up in the morning when you have a job and you're like, oh, it's their fault or it's their fault. And then when you when you start facing some adversity as an entrepreneur and you look in the mirror like, what do you do? You you look at yourself, you say, hey, dipshit, it's your fault. Like it's your fault. You have no one to blame except yourself. You get the success and all the success and all the failure. But you've got to make it happen. So it it changes your mindset actually into this like whiny complaining mode, into problem solving mode. Cause you've known her.
[00:31:33] Right. It's all on you.
[00:31:35] Yeah. So Walt Disney, your boss, went to Walt Disney Company. In basically, he's like, I'm going to bring my top guy. He just clue's Yagan Meister. But what happened there?
[00:31:49] Yeah. Well, that's what I'd like to think, that that's what he thought. But he said yes. So I went to he took over the marketing at a marketing role, had this to be a group or what the records, and put me in the position of that kind of director of strategic marketing, which is basically I was the guy that aligned all of the artists from Hollywood records like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, all the branded content from all Disney records like like The Muppet Album and the Frozen soundtrack with third party brands. And so I would go to brands and you're like, you're Samsung's of the world and create these marketing partnerships with them that allow them to leverage the artists or the IP in their marketing. And, you know, the theme out there, marketing with it, and thereby allow Disney, my company, to seed incremental marketing that for our projects. So I was basically, as I was a sales gig, if nothing else. But I was out to try to find ways to leverage other brands, media to help promote our our projects and our our artists at the time. Yeah.
[00:33:06] Yeah. Into. You're almost you're almost an affiliate. You're tapping into a private network that hopefully shared some brand affinity with Disney so you could potentially draft off of what they were already doing. Right. And you would put products in placement and some of these other brands.
[00:33:26] That's the idea.
[00:33:27] You know, it's it's it's manifested in several different ways, whether it's, you know, needing Samsung as example, Samsung, we featured in a music video for Demi Lovato and you that they're launching. And so they were able to kind of.
[00:33:47] Take advantage of, you know, just the cool factor of the site guys. You know, entertainment and and the audience and to be associated with a hot artist or it could be something as simple as, you know, with with Frozen. You know, we did partnerships with retail and brands where they got to give away music from the Frozen soundtrack. And by by virtue of that advertising that we got to promote, it promoted the protest soundtrack. So we got all that additional brand spend media to help promote our products.
[00:34:24] Oh, my God. Let it go.
[00:34:27] Let it go. And that is that it's it's still a juggernaut. I have a four year old who was even born when that movie was out. And and she thing. And she has my one and a half year old thing yet now, too.
[00:34:41] The daughter has an eight year old daughter. She was born in 2009. And the frozen thing. It's I mean, she's we just watched. I think they put off frozen, too. Hope, which was a little disappointing. But the frozen one is just I can't get the let go thing out of my mind. It's one of those iconic things that will never, ever go away.
[00:35:05] The work of lightning and lightning in a bottle and that that is popular for so many reasons and no know, not least of which was just a fantastic song. So it's a great movie.
[00:35:17] Yeah, absolutely. So how did you get. Then you went to twenty 20th century for Fox and then on to awesomeness.
[00:35:25] Yeah, yeah, yeah. This is this along origin story of stuff. So I was at Disney for close to five years and I had the opportunity to move outside of music and go into movies and took a role at at Fox as a vice president of Global Brand Partnerships. And the remit was very similar. It was how do how can we leverage brands to help us promote our movies? And scope is a bit bigger. You know, at this point, we had everything a team of 20 something people and 30 plus countries around the world and working with global brands, pan-European brands, local brands and France American brands.
[00:36:15] But the idea was, you know, we can give you the IP license three, you can ride the wave that we're creating with no buy. Put it by putting movies out in the market that we do. And in return, we just ask that, you know, that's a call to action on seeing the movie or buying the Blu ray and DVD. Pretty simple formula. But I think what you'll see is that the the the idea is the same, whether it's music, movies, or as we'll talk about digital creators, content creators, the idea is that.
[00:36:56] Entertainment is an incredibly powerful vehicle for marketing. Yeah, it's everyone has a favorite.
[00:37:07] Something, you have a favorite band. You know, a favorite song or whatever. Favorite artists. And we all have had that experience where a song will come on, you know, and it will merely transport you back to high school or whatever college. You know, the friends that you had or a girlfriend or whatever. Entertainment has the ability to transcend time and space like that. And it's very unique in that way. It's it's it's emotional. People have an emotional bond and emotional connection with their favorite artists, their favorite movies. If you're were actor, their favorite digital creators. What have you. And when a brand can't find a way to be a part of that emotional connection, that's really when I think that brand is able to really cut through the clutter. That's when a brand can go from being, you know, just another option on the shelf at the store to being little delivery apart. Part of the fabric of people's lives. It's just a very powerful medium in that way. And that's what's always struck me. That's what I love about brands and working with entertainment, whether it's music, whether it's the meister and penny wise or if it's, you know, working with a liquor brand and Deadpool at, you know, at Fox. It's the same idea.
[00:38:38] Well, you know, what's interesting about this, as we as we talk about the Origin story story know like 13 years old doing Yagur Meister's stuff, which you you literally for probably, what, 20, 25 years before you started STIR Entertainment, STIR Entertainment, Darkon before you started STIR, you had already been in this space for at least 20 years. Right. Yeah.
[00:39:06] Yeah, I mean, I don't want to date myself, but I guess it does add up to something, something like that.
[00:39:13] Yeah. In so I'm on the Stern Entertainment Web site now and I'm hearing you talk about, you know, I talked to a guest yesterday who is talking about affiliate marketing. He was so passionate about affiliate marketing. And that was his thing. He'd been doing it for so long and he believed so much that this is how the business, the right business model and how you connected it. Right. And I hear the exact same thing with how you've been connecting friends through entertainment. This is real. I mean, you're super passionate about this. I can tell. So tell me tell me a little bit. How STIR Entertainment works. Like, what do you guys do and how do you do it?
[00:39:57] Well, we are a brand partnerships firm that connects digital video publishers and content creators with advertisers, Dotto.
[00:40:10] So the idea is that we are driving ad sales, ad revenue for our clients and our our clients are industry leading next generation media companies, content creators that are, for the most part, creating, creating content video content that lives on YouTube and the various social social platforms. They typically have very large audiences. So they have the production infrastructure and the distribution. And we present these our clients to brands as marketing vehicles. And the exact same way that I would take the Frozen soundtrack for Demi Lovato and take them to brands as no as ways for those brands to reach a certain audience. We do the same thing, but specifically for for content creators and digital publishers. And ultimately, our goal is to create branded content for these brands that are using our clients onscreen talent, their IP, their production infrastructure and their distribution capability, putting the brand in front of big audiences by way of kind of translating it through the voice and the lens of these of these content of these of the content producers.
[00:41:31] Got it. So you're are you. Are you on both sides of the table like so you work with the publisher, which could be a massive Web site, maybe. Give me an example of, you know. I mean, I want to save like CNN or Fox or MSNBC or CNBC or are these the size and scale of the kind of publishers that you work with?
[00:41:53] We we work with less traditional media companies and more of what I call the next generation media companies. So a large client that we have is a company called Watch Mojo. They are a YouTube video publisher. One of the biggest in the world. And they produce content specifically for movies and movie fans and TV. And so we work with four watch Mojo. We'll go to work with the studios quite a bit to help studios market their theatrical releases or home entertainment releases. We work with the streamers like Netflix and so on to help promote titles. And the way that we do that is watch merger will create content that is based on the style of their normal everyday content that's branded for a particular movie. And and you'll be distributed across their distribution platform and they'll be seen by millions of of of viewers and their audience. And so I think it's probably pretty example. We had we have a few others that had different types of audiences, but that's one. The big one.
[00:43:06] So are these are these deals measured in CPM ads or CPC is or reach or followers or subscribers or because you take a company and you know, we don't have to use watch mode. You know, NewCo publisher dot com that has a million views a month or I mean, that's probably quite low. I mean, there's companies out there that have 100 million views a month. But if you take a company like that and then you come in and you say, hey, look, I can connect you with Disney, hey, look, I can connect you with. And then does Disney or one of the usual suspects actually pay a flat fee to have their products placed or their brand strategically placed inside of these channels? Or how does that work?
[00:43:54] Yeah, I think that's yes, it's pretty close. You know. The scale is typically in the billions of views a month or at least the hundreds of millions of views in a month. And the clients I work with, I strategically work with because they have a very specific niche. So I would know work to watch Mojo's. I entered into entertainment fans like hardcore super fans. I have a kids publisher that is the biggest kid's publisher in the world. And it's so that we take, you know, with what? Take the publisher to a brand that has a consumer that aligns with that audience got in. And it's measured in terms of a couple of different ways that we're doing branded content together. We said that they will measure it in a and views. So there'll be a cost per view. We guarantee the cost per view. We guarantee the number of views that it'll get. Maybe based on historical data. If it's sometimes you work with with brands that simply want they have their own creative. They have their own spot. Fifteen second spot. And they're just looking to put it in front of the exact right audience at the most efficient way possible. So will run their spots as ad inventory. Against that specific audience. And in that case it's usually a CPM and the CPM are based on just the size of the size of the ad products. And what what platform are running it on? But typically between the two, it's usually a CPM with with with digital media and a CPV when we're creating some type of content together and then, you know, we'll get into the left impression levels and reach and that type of thing.
[00:45:47] Also in the advertisers, let's say that, you know, if one of your advertisers is one of the biggest toy companies on the planet, I know you didn't say that, but I said that big toy company. They sell dolls or they sell trucks or they sell footballs, whatever, when they place that media with one of your leading publishers. That should be endemic to or or very core military to that brand in how they can sell stuff. Are they actually measuring sales through these channels or are they looking at it as look? This is branded content. It's frequency. It's reach its eyeballs. Are they going down to the sales level on any of these activities?
[00:46:37] Sometimes the strategies are different between different brands and even the same brand. They may have different strategy that they're employing with different partners. Sometimes it's an awareness play and so it's strictly awareness. And sometimes they're they're trying to convert to sales. So it's what we do. It's we can affect pretty much any part of the funnel from the top awareness down to convert, converting to sales. It's just a bit of a different strategy on what we do to reach those goals.
[00:47:12] How would you guys work with someone? And I know Netflix obviously doesn't offer any kind of, you know, advertising or anything like that on their site. But you think about Hulu, you think about Netflix, you know, you think about terrestrial TV, old school TV, radio, like all these mediums that can lead haven't seemed to they haven't seemed to evolve much. How do you work with someone? I mean, Netflix obviously is evolutionary and so is Amazon Prime. But could you would you be able to work with those guys or would you have to stick with publishers that are a little bit more traditional in nature that are like, hey, we're okay to have ads all over our Web site or sponsors or promotions or branded content?
[00:47:56] Yeah, well, I do work with Amazon Prime video and Netflix, but they're on the buying side so that that relationship is typically I'm taking I'm working on behalf of one of the publishers of my client. And and we're working with Netflix to help them promote one of their new series or one of their new shows.
[00:48:18] Oh, so you release them. So if it's a horror movie and you've got a publisher that just has, like people with their arms cut off, you'll put the Netflix horror thing inside of that, right?
[00:48:28] Yeah, that's essentially it. And that's actually is a really close example of a couple that we've done within the last year going back to even watch Mojo Watch.
[00:48:38] Moja has a gigantic core audience and we do we do a lot of marketing with the studios for horror movies. And so we'll create content with what on to watch Motive's voice and distribute on their platform to helps promote a horror movie by creating content that themes to that particular horror movie in. Drives awareness for that title and ultimately, hopefully driving ticket sales with.
[00:49:04] Yeah, that's interesting. And, you know, there's a lot of it feels like there's a lot of licensing deals and a lot of just raw purchases of older content. You know, whether be content from stars or whether be content from AMC. It feels like there's a huge opportunity to monetize on past content. Is anyone paying attention to some of the content that was created in the past? In thinking about some of these new media channels, like Watch Mojo as an example to say, hey, we're going to put Breaking Bad. Nobody really watches that anymore. Or maybe they do are making this up, but nobody really watches that anymore. So we're going to put Breaking Bad on watch Mojo and see if we can get more eyeballs. Does that have.
[00:49:48] Yeah. Yeah, well, for sure. These are conversations that are actually happening right now. You know, they're the people who own the content. For the most part, it's the content isn't being ignored. They have you know, it it may not be in theaters. It may not be on HBO. But for the most part, anything that has value is because it's in some kind of licensing window, whether it's showing up at at midnight on some cable channel, somebody's probably paying for it.
[00:50:18] They're finding ways to monetize it. But now, you know, it's interesting that you bring it up. But now there is a renewed focus on what how to be creative with this. And a lot of this has been the conversation has been hastened by by Cauvin. And, you know, when we saw we're starting to see the there's always been a there's always been a window where a movie won't go to home entertainment for 90 days. But since it's been in theaters and that's that's that window is starting to break a little bit. And we saw it with Troll's trollers in theaters for a second. Cobh, it hits. They release it as premium beauty is universal. Just released, king of Staten Island director, a video that was slated to go to the theaters. So now the conversation is a little bit of, OK, how do we how should we view digital, you know, now that the playbooks are being thrown out the window a little bit. Do we see major movies going into home entertainment sooner? Is are they going in tandem? Is it a shorter window? Do we produce cheaper? They use cheaper and air quotes, but, you know, cheaper content that specifically created for digital shelf art. Do we use a digital shelf? I use a digital shelf, but like, you know, a a strong entertainment focus YouTube channel.
[00:51:58] Do we use digital shelf as a marketing vehicle for a sequel that's coming out that had we run the first movie, you know, on on YouTube as a way to promote the second movie as it's in theaters. So these conversations are all happening right now. And I think that just the way that the content owners that the Ashwell companies and media companies, how they view digital is starting to it's starting to shift and it started to evolve very, very quickly. So this is all happening actually in real time.
[00:52:32] Yeah. I feel like. You know, we got rid of cable. We were with Brize in which turned into a frontier, whatever. We got rid of cable a while ago. I feel like there's a lot of people cutting cord just to engage the experience and the cost and the lack of choice. But I guess what I'm getting at is I think about your business and I don't I don't know a lot about it. I know some foundational stuff and all license deals work. But the the possibilities for aggregation of just massive piles of legacy content seems enormous. And the space feels like maybe you could comment on this. The space feels really fragmented and it feels like kind of a gold rush race right now. You've got Netflix and Amazon who focus primarily on original content. They're trying to create those hits and they spend billions of dollars on this stuff and they've done a good job. So then you've got someone like Wehbe who's like, oh, we're gonna try this. And I would argue they failed miserably, but probably a topic for another day. But now you hear of, you know, platforms like Wehbe and you know, who some of these guys that really their only path out of this, I think, which feels a lot like commodity, is figuring out how they can how they can get a better license deal for some content that people really likes. They can put it on their platforms so people will join their platform and become a subscriber. Like, what is this thing going? There's got to be some consolidation here.
[00:54:06] Yes. You know, this is all happening in real time right now. The evolution is taking place as we speak. It's it's it's been sped up because of covered, but. Yeah. People are cutting the cord. There are cord cutters or cord nevers. And, you know, people are consuming content on Netflix, Peacocke, HBO, Max, Hulu, Quilly, you know, those are there are some key member.
[00:54:38] You're in the space peacocke. What the hell is that? I don't know what that is.
[00:54:42] There was a commercial I saw for something called Touby, I think V.I. and they basically just have someone laying in the pool sipping on Mohit hose and saying, click the button. Like, who the hell is to be? And isn't it really hard to get into this business? Don't you have to have like a billion dollars to get into this business? And it seems like Touby didn't need now no fire. Kuper friend.
[00:55:07] They're all very well funded. Does take a lot of money. They're all very well funded. And for the most part, that the major usual suspects in the media world are acquiring the two views of the world. But what you're seeing is a movement from your linear TV where you turn on a channel and you watch what's being shown to you. To Peacocke is a good example. They're advertising their advertiser supported. It's free at NBC, NBC, Universal, VRD, SRT or Avon. They call it platform. So you're watching NBC content. But the difference is you you turn it on. You're not watching what's being shown to you. You have the choice. You can choose and stream what you want. What, what, what you want to watch. That's where we're going. That's the evolution. And evolution is less appointment viewing where you got to tune in at eight o'clock on Thursday night to you go to the platform of your choice and choose to watch what you want to watch. And you choose the platform based on the content that they have.
[00:56:13] Yeah, I got to tell you, man, I see this as an enormous selling opportunity, meaning if you treat every episode. Of a sitcom or a series. I don't want to get much TV unless it's on Discovery or Nat Geo or, you know, World War Two in color. Fuck, yeah. It puts me to sleep like that. But I see each one of these opportunities as an opportunity for an advertiser to get with these guys and they basically have maybe some exclusive access to sell their stuff inside of this little package that no one else has access to. And I also see some some differing revenue models in here that maybe maybe one or two or three different revenue models in here outside of, hey, give us, you know, one hundred thousand dollars to put your ads inside of our thing for 20 minutes or whatever. It just can you talk about the business model aspect or how we see this thing evolving?
[00:57:18] Yeah, well, I mean, that's there are there are very large ad sales teams within the media companies who own these different streaming services, who are pitching just just that, you know, and a number of years ago, they would have a and they would pitch brand on your shows this fall that you could run ads against. And now it's evolving to still a little bit of that. But also, you know, we have our new streaming service, Peacocke in Bush's case, and advertisers can have access to the audiences through watching their shows on that platform so that the patients, the brands are still the same. You can be you can be attached to these shows that align with that. You can align with your brand at a certain cost to the platforms of starting to change. And I think that that's really the crux of everything, is content is still king. There's a bit of land grab now on which platforms are gonna have the most content that you're going to want to watch. And in the case of platforms, their ad supported that brands are going to want to pay to be a part. And so that's where you're seeing, you know, Turner watching HBO, Max, that has all the content that HBO and Turner owns. And NBC launching Peacock that has other content that NBC owns and Netflix has there and Disney has Disney plus has all of the Nat Geo content that you can watch on demand, even go to PBS, PBS as their app, where you can watch what will work to add color on demand and not have to wait for it to come on on Sunday afternoon or whatever.
[00:59:02] Yeah. You know, you talk about content being king and I couldn't agree with you more. I mean, this show, for example, if we put out a shitty show but we had massive distribution, it wouldn't matter. Right. But I think the real trick is I think Disney's probably done a good job of this because they led with content. But do you see Facebook or Twitter or Google? Amazon's already done it. And they have distribution, obviously. And Netflix built their own distribution. But you see Facebook and Google getting into this game. Or maybe they are. I'm unaware of it.
[00:59:37] Well, Google is by virtue of YouTube, and YouTube is just a behemoth in the space.
[00:59:44] But that's distribution. And when I think about content, I think about the real high quality stuff that I think you and I are talking about, which is what's the snowflake or whatever her name with this.
[01:00:00] Let's play the let it go. Again, the dalar, the let it go, let it go.
[01:00:11] Soundtrack, which, yeah, I just forgot. What the hell? The narrative.
[01:00:17] Yeah. Frozen. OK. Right. How could I forget that? I only remember the song and I can't remember the name of the goddamn show. But to your to your point though if content is king, I don't.
[01:00:30] I mean YouTube content, a lot of it's not good. Like most of it's not good. So if YouTube or Google quote unquote wanted to do something super interesting and step up to their game, step up their game to like the Netflix or Disney level, you see that as a possibility. I know they have that short form stuff and they have some stuff. But do you see Google or Facebook getting into more quality content like Netflix and Amazon did?
[01:01:01] Well, first of all, I think I probably disagree with you on the on the on the merits of the content of YouTube. There is just a tremendous amount of watch time that goes towards YouTube. And now the idea that the production level is not that of what you're going to find in theaters. Yeah. So what we're finding is that every day there is a there's a platform for everything. And I think this is kind of where we're going as an industry. My clients are very, very YouTube centric and brands like that. There's a couple of different reasons that brands like it. One, it's very relatable. The people that know the client. I work with a large client, I have called the try guys. They produce content that is of a very high production standard. They have a very solid production infrastructure. They're not producing a James Bond movie, but it is high standard for YouTube by YouTube standards. But people like that type of content because it's relatable. It's funny. It's not two hours long. It's 10 minutes long. It's 20 minutes long and tossed. To be associated with it is can be less than being at the same table. Stakes are a little lower than being associated with buying into a big partnership with a big theatrical release. So that's the first thing that I'd say, is that that particular type of content arguably may become more and more valuable and a very premium type of content may become less valuable. I don't know. But we it's still yet to be seen like how much of a value people place on, you know, going and seeing a movie in a movie theater because it's premium content where they can watch a 10 minute video on YouTube for free ad supported, even though the quality is obviously much lower than it was, you know, but YouTube. But YouTube has gotten into the game. They have a YouTube premium channel that they have YouTube, TV. We can watch a more premium level of of content. You pay for it. But, you know, you pay YouTube premium is 10 bucks a month each on TV. I think it does raise the price like 40 bucks or whatever, but it's essentially cable all over again.
[01:03:30] And that's what we're seeing on Facebook. On the other hand, probably, I don't know, probably not Facebook. Keep in mind, they're they're trying their algorithm based. They want to keep people's attention on their platform as long as possible to attract to attract advertisers and brands. And then they don't do it necessarily by showing premium content. It's more or less by showing content that people that you're connected to and your social graph, maybe not so much on Facebook.
[01:03:57] Yeah. Got. It just it seems like there. These guys have so much frickin money that if tomorrow they decided they didn't want to go to outerspace or build a self-driving car, they could invest in high quality content and create what Amazon and Netflix has created. And by the way, they have the biggest distribution platform in the world. So I was like, well, content is king. Yeah, you too are wise.
[01:04:24] And you know it. I, I think that they found their lane in their own. I mean, yeah, it comes to advertising advertiser supported video on demand.
[01:04:33] You right now you if YouTube is so far out in front that they are they are the elephant in the room. So I think that they, you know, they are sticking with what they do best and and they're doing really well with it. So it's not being on the inside. I have to imagine that's probably part of their strategy.
[01:04:54] Yeah, no, that's that's real interesting. What about breaking news? And if you're a smaller advertiser or a smaller brand or if you're a smaller publisher? One of the things I found even in my own business is if you don't have massive scale, it's really difficult to make money doing this. And it feels like a chicken and an egg thing. Like you can't have massive scale unless you have money and you can't have money unless you have massive scale. You can't get advertisers unless you have massive scale, which can get massive sell unless you invest in all this content, whether it's high quality or not. That's debatable. It feels like it's really difficult to create your own channels, create your own content and make really any money at all. Like, what's the trick to this?
[01:05:41] You know, if I knew what the trick was, I would be completely different.
[01:05:47] But, you know, I think that it's it can't be easy or else everybody be doing it. But it can't be so incredibly difficult because there's a lot of people that are doing it. I don't know. The trick is. You're right. You have to achieve some type of some type of momentum before it really starts to take off for you. I mean, I know people who have. I know people who have started just logging and have just over time creating good content. The algorithm gets behind them and they become a media company. I also have a family friend who your daughter during Kova decided to start putting stuff on Tick-Tock. And this was she's been at it since March and she has five million followers.
[01:06:36] What's on Twitter? That's my job. She's a success story.
[01:06:42] It's she's getting brand deals. And how does she do it? You know, it's probably a little bit of you know, the content is good. It's entertaining. A lot of it is a tick tock algorithm and it's probably a little luck in there.
[01:06:59] Serendipity. Right.
[01:07:01] Well, serendipity. But. But yeah, I mean, it's there. And the other thing I was gonna say is that the tools now that they have it hasn't it's there for you. It's not you that before.
[01:07:17] You know, even caught 10 plus years ago, if there was a bottleneck on getting content to people. Right. You had that know, if you want to make content, you had to have a crew.
[01:07:30] Yeah. And we got all together. He had to go through very narrow channel of distribution. ABC, CBS. Yeah. You know, cable channel. And then those pipes were were were.
[01:07:44] Yeah. Even, you know, further narrow by you know, you hit you're going through major cable carriers now. It's completely open. You want you can go on to tick tock the tool there. The platform is very simple to use. You can go on to YouTube. They make it really easy to upload a video. Do you ever upload a video? People are shooting on their iPhone. You're not expected to have super high production on YouTube. You given up a given a pass on that.
[01:08:12] And depending on what you're doing and what you're making, you can create an audience and you can get some type of momentum behind you. That idea becomes bigger. YouTube YouTube's algorithm tends to favor the successful and the commercial opportunities tend to follow.
[01:08:31] That's. Yeah, well, it's it's super interesting. I don't know. I mean, you're you're in a great spot, you know, stir entertainment. You know, I'm on your Web site right now. You guys are working with some really, you know, big brands and big publishers and doing a great job. I'm so glad that you could come on the show today. Ray Powell is the CEO for STIR Brands Entertainment, a Nashville based agency focused on bringing the worlds of brands in digital and entertainment together through compelling marketing partnerships. Ray, again, great to have you on the show. If you're in the audience, their entertainment dot com is the Web site you go to find Ray. I know he's got to contact us on there. We'll also put his contact information in the show, notes Ray. Last question before I let you go. Do you have any advice for our listeners? These are mostly CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs. What's your advice as we close out the show?
[01:09:29] Well, first of all, Chris, thank you for having me. It was awesome to talk to an awesome opportunity. Know, I think we touched on it earlier on that. I think that if you bet on yourself, it's the best bet that you can make. And and I think we're seeing now that the alternative isn't always as safe as we thought it was. So if you think that you have the stomach and can accept the ups and downs and from the sacrifice, but there are ups, lots of ups, if you if you think that that's your personality, I think that I think you should always bet on yourself and and. Yes.
[01:10:09] Excellent. Thank you, Ray. I hope to do this again. Yes.
[01:10:14] All right. Thank you, Chris. All right.