Art and commerce are finding new ways to co-exist. And when it comes to advertising in today's American culture, there is certainly an art to the way Steve Stoute does business. On Friday, June 3, the advertising executive will deliver the keynote speech at Admerica 2011, the American Advertising Federation's annual conference taking place in San Diego, California. In an exclusive interview with BET.com, Stoute talked about his upcoming keynote speech, which is titled "Reintroducing a Classic Brand to Young Adults."
"I really believe in what Translation has done over the last seven years. We do understand the young-adult consumer. We understand their trends, what drives their thinking, and we have an insight on a way to activate that consumer," Stoute says.
As the founder and CEO of Translation Advertising, Stoute has taken brands and successfully figured out how to sell them to today's hip hop–infiltrated market. The former music executive has levereged his relationships with celebrities and matched them with the right product. Stoute cites ad campaigns such as McDonald's "I'm Lovin' It" and remixing the Wrigley's jingles with Chris Brown and Ne-Yo as two examples of how his company has connected specific products with the consumer.
"I think a lot has to do with truly understanding where [the consumer] lives. Identifying the consumer, and where they are consuming their media, speaking to them in the right message, and speaking to them on terms where it doesn’t feel like you are selling to them," Stoute says of his strategy.
Stoute's keynote speech will focus on his newest challenge, which is re-introducing auto insurance company State Farm to the young-adult consumer. "State Farm is the largest insurer in America. It has been around for 70-plus years and the issue was, in its volume, growth and tenure over the last 15 years. It did not engage at the right level of conversation with the right auto insurers to drive consideration among new insurers," he schools. "With [competitors like] Geico and Progressive, they needed to [figure out how to] get young-adult drivers to make it their brand of choice."
So does this mean we'll soon see Beyoncé or Rihanna going head to head with the Geico gecco? Not likely. "I would never use Beyoncé to sell cars. It doesn’t make sense. It looks very telegraphed," he says. Using the recent Kodak campaign as an example of what not to do, Stoute explains that some companies have missed the mark when trying to capitalize off of celebrity. "When I first started doing [this], there was a reason why I chose Jay-Z to sell sneakers that didn’t make you run faster or higher. There was a reason I thought Gwen Stefani could sell Hewlett-Packard cameras. When I look at it today, the art form has been abused. When you see Drake, Pitbull, Rihanna and Trey Songz [in the Kodak campaign], it has been eroded with celebrity. Why would Pitbull and Rihanna have anything in common?," he asks. "You gotta put it in an appropriate context. It’s not real, authentic or honest. You know they just got a check."
The Admerica 2011 national conference begins today (June 1) and ends June 4.