Make sure to connect with Bob on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-johns-2079634/ and check out some of the Boldsite Media highlights on their Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/boldsite_media/?hl=en
Original Episode -
Episode 096 - The Immersive Revolution w/ Bob Johns of BOLDSITE Media
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Welcome to OOH Insider, the first podcast made just for media and marketing executives to about how to create alchemy in the real world - the blending of marketing art and marketing science to create brand experiences that drive measurable impact.
My name is Tim Rowe and for the past three years, I’ve been interviewing industry experts for their unique insight on this topic and today’s recap is of episode 96 with Bob Johns, founder of Boldsite Media, the premier destination retail and entertainment media company with a portfolio that showcases incredible properties like The Grandscape in Dallas and American Dream Mall.
For those of you who don’t know, American Dream Mall is the 3.2 million square foot monolith that is home to the world’s largest indoor amusement park and a two-story Hermes townhouse that is a luxury shopping experience unto itself and just 4-miles from the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel and 15-minutes from Manhattan.
Imagine a mall from Dubai transplanted to the New Jersey tri-state area, on the same complex of Metlife stadium where the Giants and Jets play.
Bob started out on the buy-side of the business, as a buyer at an agency. As time went on though, he realized he had a passionate for business development, ultimately, over time, leaning into his strengths as a media seller and making the flip to the sell-side.
It’s interesting because as I was preparing for this episode, I was reading a great book by famed business consultant, Peter Drucker, called Managed Oneself. It’s little, like 4x6, 100 pages, but it is packs an absolute punch. One of the FIRST things Peter Drucker talks about is taking an annual inventory of what you’re doing well in your current role, what you love, what you hate, things like that, and that once you’ve done this process a few times you’ll get a really clear picture of the type of company you’re best suited for, whether you’re a great #1 or a better #2, those sort of things and I think it’s really interesting to hear someone’s story essentially of that process, whether it was conscious or not.
Bob continued moving towards his strengths rather than spending time working on his weaknesses and I think that’s an important concept that isn’t talked about enough.
Gary Vaynerchuk is famously known for “punt your weaknesses” and I couldn’t agree more.
The next big idea I learned from Bob is how OOH concepts are generally great ammunition for any business pitch. That’s how Bob made the ultimate switch from the buy to sell side, he found he was always asking the OOH team for ideas for new business pitches he was working on and ultimately, the “if ya can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” I think got the best of ‘em and Bob made the switch but I think this idea of OOH being great for new business pitches is a business development that more media owners could be using, from the local level all the way up. Rather than constantly trying to go around the agency to ultimately just pitch space, develop relationships around ideas. I’ll tell you straight up I have 4 different partners, all who do something different, working on their best ideas for one specific client of ours at ODN.
Let experts do expert shit, they know their products and markets best, I’m just here to ask good questions and give focused direction so I LOVE this idea.
Look around the room and ask yourself who you could align efforts with and think of the value that you can bring. I love this so much and its collaboration, which will ultimately be the growth-engine for OOH, not another friggin programmatic dsp.
Okay so let’s talk brass talks, the real meat and potatoes of this conversation was about the opportunity that exists for brands to create immersive experience in contextually relevant moments.
Let me give you some highlights about one of those Boldsite properties, the American Dream Mall…
Bob classifies it as destination retail and entertainment and I love that category positioning. This is not your local mall.
This place has:
Worlds largest Indoor theme park in the world
Largest indoor water park, it makes 6 foot waves and reportedly, former NY Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia would take surf lessons there in the morning before the mall opened when he was still with the team
There’s an Indoor ski slope
330 stores and restaurants
NHL size ice rink
Indoor go karts
Saks 5th avenue
Two-story apartment Hermès
This is a 3.2 million square foot feat of engineering that is closer to going on vacation than to the food court and Sam Goody and to hang out with your friends after school. That’s a throwback reference for all you millennials and older in the audience.
Bob calls the brand marketing opportunity a “visual landscape” with 138 synchronized displays across the footprint that really create an immersive Times Square Takeover type feel in this super contextually relevant moment for high-end fashion, family-fun, and just overall epicness.
And while each screen is syncrhonized to one another, they can also all be independently controlled, meaning that you can do some really amazing things with this network from a creative standpoint. And that’s ultimately the exclamation point on this episode is that these sorts of opportunities are not something that just end up on a grid and get bought. Or at least that’s the most underwhelming way to approach it. Instead, consider the audience. This is an iconic landmark and destination. It draws from a huge footprint across the northeast United States and as international travel continues to open, more and more tourists are putting American Dream on their must-see list. This an environment designed to get you to part with your wallet, with zero shortage of shopping or activities to suit your taste.
So consider the opportunity, first and foremost, then consider the capabilities of the network, which are first-class and literally built by the same company that designs and outfits major sports arenas around the world.
I think it’s absolutely killer and Bob will tell you himself, they’re still looking for someone to really push the limits and test the capabilities of what’s possible with that property. Super cool stuff.
And the number one takeaway, a great reminder, is Bob’s understanding of the 2nd law in the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: The Law of the Category. The Law of the Category says that if you cannot be first in your category, setup a new category and that’s exactly what Bob did with his classification of destination retail and entertainment. He didn’t want to be lumped in with mall media, because it’s not the same, and so…he created his own category, a great lesson retaught to us by Challenger Brands of all sorts.
And speaking of challenger brands, I’m working on a new series that is going to be the most practical playbook on challenger brand marketing for the modern day so make sure you’re subscribed.