In 2016, I got a call from Josh Weltman. Josh is a long-time friend from back in my LA days. He’s also a creative director, co-producer of Mad Men and author of “Seducing Strangers.” Josh had gotten a call from the Chairman’s office of Sokon Industries Group, which is headquartered in Chongqing, China. The Chairman and his team wanted to talk to Josh about launching a electric vehicle into the U.S.
“You want to join me for the meeting in LA?”, Josh asked, and then with a laugh, “if it’s for real, it’s probably at least a two-person job.”
The meeting took place in Century City and the Chairman and his team were particularly interested in our thoughts on building a brand, establishing a U.S. headquarters in Silicon Valley, and the insights we had regarding the U.S. consumer and the market.
It was the founding client for our brand consultancy; Walker|Weltman. Almost three years later, our recommendation for the global brand name finally became public. There were multiple reasons for the recommendation of Seres (pronounced like it looks, the same as ‘series,’) as the brand name, but my favorite part of the back story for the name involved the history of the silk road. Seres was the name of the people of Serica, along the Silk Road that connected China to the world.
Congratulations to everyone from SOKON, SF Motors, and Walker|Weltman that made this a reality. Well done. It’s been quite a journey.
Naming a global automobile brand. That’s one to check off the bucket list.
Josh and I at SF Motors HQ in Santa Clara for the launch of the SF5 and SF7
I’ve had the good fortune to help launch some very famous brands: Taco Bell, Powerade, Washington Mutual, & more recently, Talking Rain’s Sparkling Ice. In our initial discussions a few years ago with Kevin Klock, the CEO of Talking Rain, and the team behind Sparkling Ice, we talked about creating a new category, one between sodas (bad) and water (boring). It’s exciting to see that original thinking play out in the real world. I believe Sparkling Ice will be the Coca-Cola of the 21st Century.
Click here to read about the Sparkling Ice launch into the UK and Ireland. Congrats to the incredible and inspiring team at Talking Rain. It’s nice when good things happen to good people. Click here for more on this blog about the original launch of Sparkling Ice and the New York All-Star week Kevin Durant Brand Ambassador launch.
Foulweather Films, a film, television and content company has been launched to develop shows for film and television, and to provide longer format content for brands. Foulweather Films co-founders are producers Sterling Ray & Ross Fenter. Jim Walker will lead story development. To find out more, check out foulweatherfilms.com.
Josh Weltman, MadMen co-producer and author of Seducing Strangers and I have launched “The CEO’s Writer’s Room Project.” A project designed to focus the story arc of the CEO’s vision and unite the energies of the people who drive the business. The CEO’s Writer’s Room Project takes the proven principles of the writer’s room that have for decades created episodic television shows, and applies those principles to modern businesses, and the big complicated narratives and legacies that today’s CEO’s need to manage.
A few words on the project from Josh Weltman, Founding Partner, of the CEO’s Writer’s Room Project:
“I worked on MadMen for seven years. And every season began the same. Matt Weiner, the creator, executive producer and show-runner of the series would walk into the writer’s room and lay out the most important parts of the new season’s story; what the main character, Don Draper, wanted, and where he was going to end up in the last episode. We didn’t know how we would get there (that was the job of the writers and producers in that room). But we knew where we were going. And the direction gave common purpose to the writers, producers, department keys, craftsmen, actors, editors, studio executives and network partners who made MadMen successful.
In the writer’s room, I was told, “If you don’t know where you’re going, no road will get you there.” And that insight became the inspiration for me and Jim Walker to create the CEO’s Writers Room Project.
In today’s world, a successful CEO not only needs to run a company, a successful CEO must also run the show, act as head writer and executive producer of a big complicatednarrative that is critical to their company’s success. Where will we be in five years? Who’s in our way? What struggles will we overcome? What will we learn? And what will we teach our investors, partners and customers?
What desire drives the company? And why will the world applaud us?
The CEO’s Writer’s Room Project exists to take a CEO’s vision and turn it into step by step, scene by scene story that will focus the efforts of people in the organization and lead to an inspiring and enduring company legacy.
For more info contact:
jimwalkerseattle is thrilled to be consulting with Aroma Joe’s on brand simplification and marketing as they continue their remarkable story.
The four founders, two sets of brothers, who are also cousins, have created a remarkable brand and loyal following, especially among millennials, out of their first kiosk in a New Hampshire parking lot in 2000. Great people. Great Product. And an attitude “that’s just a little different.”
An ambitious, rapidly growing, high energy brand that knows how to have fun. What’s not to love? Stay tuned.
“On the issue of celebrities and brands licensing their names, my general conclusion is that for the most part, it’s a waste of money and could be a problem for the brand itself–sometimes for the celeb as well. “–Jack Trout
When jimwalkerseattle was originally hired to help develop the Brand Ambassador programs for Sparkling Ice, it immediately felt different than previous celebrity endorser campaigns I’ve led.
A new generation of consumers, and the ubiquity of social media seems to be putting celebrity endorsers out of business and given rise to the term “Brand Ambassador.” And if you think it’s just a change in terminology, you’re mistaken.
Do you remember Kim Kardashian for Skechers? Jennifer Anniston for Smart Water? Brad Pitt for Chanel #5. I’m sure most people had the same reaction as I did, “Wow, I wonder how much they paid ________ to do that?” They all brought some attention to the products they pitched, but the attention was short lived, and questionable in adding to the brands that paid them.
There are two major factors at work. One, millennials put a big premium on authenticity. Second, the mainstreaming of social and digital media has made the celebrity brands as big, if not bigger than the brands they’re working with.
In the old media landscape, brands paid celebrities enormous fees to gain attention. Modern brands should be looking for celebrity brands that reflect a mutual set values, respect and affection.
When RocNation and Robinson Cano teamed up with Sparkling Ice as their newest brand ambassador it wasn’t just about attention, but a partnership that would benefit both brands. Cano is not only an actual fan of the brand, but Sparkling Ice and Robinson Cano have already been at work making sure their individual brands are aligned and support each other. Sparkling Ice is supporting Cano’s RC22 Foundation, which will build schools in the Dominican, and Cano has already committed to Sparkling Ice’s well-documented community efforts at the kick-off of the Boy’s & Girls Club Little League day. Cano took the time to pose with all 62 teams and give a very heartfelt, inspirational message to the kids, along with hosting teams at Mariner’s games throughout the year. Yes, there will be advertising, but the partnership runs deeper than that.
Cano’s signing followed that of another RocNation client, Kevin Durant. Durant and Roc Nation actually approached Sparkling Ice, not the other way around. In fact, it was Durant who had RocNation reach out to Sparkling Ice. Not because it was the biggest brand with the deepest pockets, but a brand he actually liked and drank. The deal was based on a combination of mutual support, shared creative input, and authenticity. It has led to greater awareness for Sparkling Ice (see the previous blog post about All-Star weekend), a limited edition Kevin Durant Orange Mango product in the Northeast, and one of the most successful joint ventures of the year at the 1st Annual roccityclassic in Madison Square Park and after party at the 40-40 Club in Manhattan.
Brand Ambassadors are not just new terminology, but a shift away from “celebrity endorsers.”
Today’s consumers are looking for brands that share their values, and so are today’s celebrity brands. In the modern world, they have equal stakes in the game.
Available April 7th and written by good friend Josh Weltman, Producer and Advertising Consultant on MadMen. A smart, strategic and entertaining book on advertising, entertainment and people. Just like what creating great campaigns feels like…on a good day. Whether you’re in advertising or television or not, it’s a terrific read.
Before founding jimwalkerseattle, Jim Walker was President and Chief Creative Officer for some of the world’s premiere creative agencies. He has spent his career inventing and reinventing how businesses big and small are structured and helping his clients launch, and re-launch their brands.
Walker has been recognized creatively both nationally and internationally, from Cannes and the London International Awards, to the Favourite Website Awards and the American Marketing Association’s Effie Awards for effectiveness. He has launched national brands like Taco Bell, Coca Cola, PowerAde, Washington Mutual, and Talking Rain’s Sparkling Ice. He has also led campaigns for American Airlines, Microsoft, REI, Nintendo, Ray Ban, Princess Cruises, Group Health Cooperative and AT&T.
Walker has served as a trustee for the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and ArtsFund, and is currently on the advisory board for the School of Art + Communication for Pacific Lutheran University, an advisor to The Raikes Foundation and collaborator with Deanna Oppenheimer’s CameoWorks. He has a BFA in painting and drawing and attended the UCLA extension program in film.