Space150 serves up quirky and creative digital marketing

Digital marketing is barely a decade old, but it's already threatening to kill off traditional advertising channels.
Space150
Digital marketing is barely a decade old, but it’s already threatening to kill off traditional advertising channels.

Space150 has conquered Times Square. The Minneapolis-based digital agency currently has campaigns for three different clients playing on giant digital billboards in what may be world’s premier advertising venue.

But these aren’t typical billboards. Rather, they’re multistory canvases on which “the Space” has splashed its distinctive brand of quirky creativity.

Orchestrated content sweeps across 120 linked screens forsurfwear-maker Quiksilver. Kids (and parents) can digitize themselves into a rock band and watch their video play on a four-story-high screen for clothing company 77kids.

And in the longest-running campaign in the trio, for fashion retailer Forever 21, 50-foot-tall models appear to reach from the billboard, pluck actual passersby from the crowd and bring them into the screen. I saw this one myself on a trip to Manhattan a few weeks ago. Both times I walked by, there were hundreds of people crowding the sidewalks, riveted to the giant screen and waving in the hope that they might be the next one singled out.

Kids can digitize themselves into a rock band and watch their video play on a four-story-high screen for clothing company 77kids.

There’s a lot of technical wizardry involved in putting something like that together. But technical skill means little if it isn’t in the service of a great idea. That’s where Space150 differs from a typical digital shop, said CEO Marcus Fischer.

“Most digital shops work through agencies,” Fischer said, meaning that they’re often subcontractors that carry out the ideas of others. “Ninety-nine percent of our revenue is client-direct.

“Marketers have always wanted to go further upstream with clients,” he said. “We’re now being pulled in at the product-development level. That’s exciting.”

Founded in 2000 by its now-chairman, Billy Jurewicz, Space150 has grown from a couple of guys in the basement with a server into a $20 million company employing about 140 people in Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles. Fischer, who previously headed his own shop and also worked at Fallon and Carmichael Lynch, joined in 2008 to bring some calming yang to Jurewicz’s electric yin.

Forever 21 billboard
Space150
Forever 21 billboard

Digital marketing is barely a decade old, but it’s already threatening to kill off traditional advertising channels: “There’s no offline world anymore,” Fischer said flatly. But the digital realm isn’t a monolith, either — it encompasses everything from coupons to games to social platforms to text.

The marketers who succeed will be those that can thread their way through the various digital channels in the service of a creative concept that makes them all work together. Space150 did that last year for Discover Boating, an industry group formed to promote recreational boating. Space150 created a campaign, “Making Waves,” that combined social media, online gaming, targeted media buys and a sweepstakes. The campaign won a Gold Effie, a coveted advertising award based on both creativity and measured effectiveness.

“We’re very proud of that, because the balance between creativity and results is very important to us,” Fischer said. “You always hear that people don’t want to be marketed to — that’s bull. They just want it to be done right.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Frank Rolfe on 08/01/2011 - 12:12 pm.

    What great news for the billboard industry!

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