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What can Kidrobot, The Simpsons and deep branding teach us?

Anyone who knows me, has been to my house or walked by my office knows that Kidrobot is a brand that is near and dear to my heart and I have the collection to prove it. I have been been a fan since pretty much the beginning when I heard their founder and creative director Paul Budnutz talked about their philosophy of making toys that brought the fun and design back to toys. He will often start by defining what Kidrobot isn’t and his usual example is a toy from the movie Jurassic Park where consumers buy the toy because it is memory connection to the movie and not because it is a good toy. You can click here to see one of his speeches from the recent AIGA NEXT conference to get the whole picture. As a creative person I buy into that approach completely since it is a value of their brand that aligns with my personal values. For those of us who work in branding these are the types of connections we try and make every day because they are deep and create long term loyal behaviors. The thing about any deep connection in branding or in life is that is has to be respected and maintained to stay healthy. That became really clear to me when I was cruising through the Kidrobot site on a discussion board where they list upcoming toy releases and it listed 5 upcoming releases for the month of August and the 3rd one stopped me in the tracks. Sitting there in the middle of the page was The Simpsons by Kidrobot. My mind raced and I saw red. I love the Simpsons and I love Kidrobot but what the #@$%ing hell were they doing together? How could this brand that I love that told to me about how they are all about making unique toys not based on something else DO EXACTLY THAT? I felt like when I was back in college and found my girlfriend cheating on me and it tortured me all day. I was well aware of the absurdity of equating a plastic toy release with someone that betrayed me but I just couldn’t move my emotions from the place. In the end I look at as an overdue reminder of the responsibility that comes with building emotional connections with advertising and branding. We need to do what is right for the people who have connected with the brands we work on and not just what is right for our portfolios.

1 Comment

  1. Michael

    July 20, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Stephen, Wow! That is a stunning and visually exciting site. Your work is usually good, but this one is above and beyond. One thing seemed missing… a Music element. I compose for commercials CP+B etc., and I was working on a song for a travel company called Safe Journey,(Brief: high end, chill with a consistent rhythm like the ocean) look familiar, ha ha!?. It fit with the site perfectly. If you want me to send it just as a lark, who knows BBDO might be open to the pitch? It’s not temped yet.
    Nice Work

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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