August 29, 2023

MarTech Stack Fundamentals

A well-built MarTech stack that works together cohesively, will allow your organization to amplify its marketing efforts and achieve measurable results, while fostering collaboration, drive efficiency, and enhance the customer experience.

Building Your MarTech Stack:

  1. Identify Your Goals: Start the process by identifying your marketing goals and objectives. This will guide your selection of tools and ensure they align with your overall strategy.
  2. Core Tools: Your toolkit should include a customer relationship management (CRM) system, marketing automation platform, content management system (CMS), and analytics tools. These tools will allow you to manage your customer data, automate marketing processes, and measure performance.
  3. Specialized Tools: Your business’ needs might call for specialized technologies. These could include email marketing software, social media management platforms, search engine optimization (SEO) tools, advertising platforms, and more. These critical tools will enhance your stack's capabilities and allow you to target different channels and tactics.
  4. Integration: Ensure that your tools can communicate and share data with one another seamlessly. Integration eliminates data silos, provides a holistic view of your marketing efforts, and enables efficient collaboration across teams.
  5. Scalability and Flexibility: Your MarTech stack should be scalable and adaptable to your evolving needs. As your business grows, you might need to add or replace tools within your stack. Choose tools that offer scalability and flexibility, enabling you to adjust and optimize your stack as required.

By carefully selecting and integrating the right tools, you can unlock new levels of effectiveness and creativity in your marketing efforts.


August 10, 2023

The Remix Revolution

In the era of digital media and social networking, Gen Z is harnessing their collective creativity and technological prowess to reshape the way we engage with advertising content. The power of YouTube and TikTok has provided a sandbox platform for “the kids”, as I call them, to embrace and remix video advertising songs, creating a vibrant subculture of creative expression and unexpected content, of which advertisers have almost zero control over. The latter can be downright absurd, and sometimes even scary. (More on that later.)

But it’s not just the latest pop or rap song subject to a digital hacksaw, advertisement songs (aka jingles) and videos are transformed into something entirely new and unexpected. This process provides a sense of empowerment to the consumer. By engaging with advertising content in this way, they actively participate in shaping popular culture rather than passively consuming it. These creations have the potential to go viral, reaching millions of viewers worldwide. This virality creates a ripple effect, sparking conversations, trends, and cultural references that become a part of popular culture.

But first, a brief history:

The origin of advertising jingles can be traced back to the 1850s when businesses started using catchy tunes to promote their products. The 1920s to 1950s marked the golden age of advertising jingles with the rise of commercial radio. As television became popular in the 1950s and '60s, jingles found a new medium to reach a larger audience. Companies like Coca-Cola, Oscar Mayer, and McDonald's are among those that used jingles to create lasting brand awareness. Catchy little tunes became an integral part of commercials, embedding brand messages into the minds of viewers on a national scale.

After a slight decline on the late 90s / early 2000s, jingles are back in a big way. In the digital age, jingles have found a new life through online platforms and social media. Short, catchy sounds are used in digital campaigns (sometimes just a few seconds), and brands intentionally create viral shorts (or try desperately) to gain widespread attention.

Which bring us to power tools, and a cat.

Created way back in 2021 (an eternity for web culture), the Cat Vibing to the Home Depot Theme Song is an origin story of sorts, to an unexpected new genre. (The vibing cat itself originated in yet another video but I digress…)

It has all the critical elements of a smash viral hit:

  1. A cat (Cats in internet memes are a tale as old as time.)
  2. A cheesy corporate jingle
  3. Comedy

The video itself is hilarious. The cat’s head bobbing to the beat juxtaposed with images of construction workers and power tools makes me laugh every time, and yes, I have watched it many times over. It’s absurd.

It’s popularity among Gen Z is something a corporate marketing campaign could never achieve intentionally. (Go ahead and try Home Depot, prove me wrong!)

First of all, the video is uploaded with a straight-to-the-point tagline of “F*ck Lowes. All my homies use Home Depot.” If I was the VP of Marketing at Home Depot, I would have that quote framed and hanging in my office. I might even pitch it as the new official tagline and get fired.

But in all seriousness, here’s the magic within. Comments for this creation include:

Not going to lie, the Home Depot song is actually pretty good.”

“Why did it take me 21 years of living before realizing this song SLAPS”

And THIS gem:

“I want this to be an official ad on tv.”

Can you imagine this running as an actual ad? It would be amazing. But you can’t. The UGC aspect is the key to success.

But not to worry Home Depot, as of today the video has amassed well over 4M views. (The average video on the Home Depot official YouTube channel has about 10k views.) Clearly this is resonating.

Does Home Depot have a clue? Do they know this even exists? That nugget of information is not known to me, but it’s still here at 2 years after upload, and that is the right course of action. Leave it alone. Don’t stop the fun. The last thing you want as a brand is a negative reaction viral sensation.

The trend of remixing video advertising songs and videos is revolutionizing the advertising industry itself. Smart brands recognize the value of engaging with young audiences through this user-generated content. Some brands actively encourage users to create their own remixes and share them online, further blurring the lines between traditional advertising and user-driven content.

A Purple Monster is on a Murderous Rampage

An example of a massively viral campaign gone completely off the rails is the McDonald’s celebration of the goofy purple-blob mascot Grimace and the return of the limited-time offer, purple “Grimace Shake”.

Photo: McDonald's

In the "Grimace Shake" TikTok trend, users have created mini horror movies mocking the effects of drinking the mysterious concoction.

That’s right.

Horror movies.

I can just imagine the boardroom meeting at McDonald’s.

“What’s the status report?”

“Good news boss! Our Grimace Shake is going viral on TikTok!”

“That’s amazing. Tell me more.”

“Well, what’s trending is… kids drink the shake!”


“And then… well, this is awkward.”

“Yes, go ahead. Out with it.”

“After they drink the shake, they… ummmm… convulse and die.”

“WHAAAAAAAT?” *Boss spits coffee all over shiny conference room desk*


So, what is really going on here? Thousands of examples on the social media platform show users in a creepy scene after trying out the mysterious beverage (which is meant to celebrate Grimace’s birthday). Shortly after taking a sip of the special shake, the video cuts to the creators mimicking horror movie-style death scenes. The purple liquid can be found dribbling out of their mouths, splattered like blood all over the floor, and even oozing from their nostrils. It’s all very nasty.

I can't imagine McDonald's could have ever pictured the Grimace shake going viral quite like this.

@ruiz_alv04 via TikTok / @McDonalds via Twitter

It would have been very understandable for McDonald’s to try to put a stop to this trend immediately. Videos of customers literally going crazy and dying from consuming your product? A nightmare!

Or is it?

As a brand, what would you do?

McDonald’s did the right thing.


They sat back and watched.

With a wink and nod from Grimace himself, McDonald’s gave a sly seal of approval essentially saying, “We get it. We’re not going to interfere with this. Go forth and create you crazy rascals! Oh, and btw, please keep eating at McDonald’s!”

Full disclosure - my young son, who typically does not eat at McDonald’s, bought the shake (along with a giant burger meal) immediately when this was all happening.

McDonald’s understood that Gen Z has a particularly wacky sense of humor, and this trend was high praise. Taking an innocent mascot like Grimace and mixing it with a Stranger Things vibe is just… so Gen Z. It’s weird. It’s retro. It’s parody. And even though it’s dark and creepy, it’s playful. It’s the ultimate mashup.

The trend absolutely blew up online with videos containing the hashtag #grimaceshake amassing over 3 billion views.


With a B.

McDonald’s provided the tools - A stylized online campaign featuring a nostalgic retro character, and a weird purple shake. The creative audience provided the content. It’s very hard to intentionally plan something like this. Can you imagine a meeting where a marketing agency pitched this very idea, and promised McDonalds a billion engagements? You’d get kicked out of the room. Even when brands pay big bucks to influencers, the content often seems forced, fake. Gen Z in has a keen bs meter. When marketing content blows up organically and is a genuine positive experience, it’s the best-case scenario a brand can ever dream of.

As an “old man” Gen X’er myself, I hate to admit it but, through their imaginative reinterpretations, Gen Z has not only contributed to popular culture but also transformed the advertising industry itself. As this trend continues to evolve, it presents exciting opportunities for brands to connect with their target audience in new and authentic ways, harnessing the power of user-generated content. But as you can see, proceed with caution.

The “kids today” are indeed leading a revolution, where the remix becomes an art form and advertising becomes a source of inspiration and creative collaboration.

Now excuse me I must leave, I’m suddenly in the mood for McDonald’s.

Photo: McDonald's



June 8, 2023

How changes to Twitter have affected Advertisers post-Elon Musk Purchase

From a $44 billion acquisition to an exodus of advertisers, Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter has sparked a seismic shift. Structural changes on the platform have failed to address harmful speech, leaving brands wary of compromising their 'brand safety.' As Pathmatics analysis reveals, over half of Twitter's top advertisers have pulled the plug. Dive into KingFish's timeline documenting the game-changing alterations on Twitter and their aftermath since Musk's purchase.

Twitter Infographic


May 31, 2023

Design Isn’t Just Aesthetics

Something unique about working for a marketing agency is that all forms of creativity must be tethered to an objective. Here, art isn’t just expression – it’s precise strategy.

As an artist, at the very least your baseline knowledge of design, color, typography, composition, geometry, white space, aesthetics, trending styles, etc. needs to be top of class. That knowledge is why you’re getting hired. However, good design is only the foundation. You are more than just an artist. You are a marketer, a thinker, a strategist.

Aside from aesthetics, here are a few principles I employ when designing a brand:

Be Memorable

  • Solid brand identity achieves recognizability at “first glance.” Many times, brands have limited time, real estate, and budgets to pull off making a name for themselves. Every second counts. This means designs must combine elegant simplicity with complex messaging into a single punchy product. From colors, to the form, to resonating visual themes, designs must stand out. And stand out well.

Think Like a Consumer

  • As an artist it may be natural to think about designs from a solely aesthetic perspective. But designers also need to think about how a consumer may be interacting, interpreting, or remembering these designs. Consumers don’t always have an artistic eye. So, if your design is too abstract without being clear in its messaging, or is hard to read, or doesn’t resonate with the target audience, the designer may need to rethink “how can I help my audience appreciate what they’re seeing?” It may mean adjusting, simplifying, or clarifying your vision.

Achieve Multiple Goals

  • Good design should be able to juggle multiple things at once with precision. Is your brand identity elegant? Representing the industry well? Standing out against the industry well? Achieving the tone and goals of the client? Easy for other designers to utilize? Good design balances all without blinking an eye.

Designing a brand isn’t only about creativity. It’s about understanding some of the most abstract parts of the human experience and then turning them into concrete products. Good designs are beautiful. But the best designs achieve goals.

May 25, 2023

Brand Activism: Deterrent or Loyalty-Builder?

Anheuser-Busch's recent collaboration with transgender social media influencer, Dylan Mulvaney, sought to generate publicity for Bud Light during the NCAA March madness tournament this spring. What resulted was an enormous controversy that sparked a mass call to boycott the brand. The overwhelming backlash that Anheuser-Busch received for working with Mulvaney will undoubtedly have significant repercussions into the future as corporations weigh the outcomes of explicitly promoting their values in marketing campaigns, or even just implicating their values as was done with this recent collaboration with Mulvaney. With a backdrop of increasingly divisive politics in the US, brands must decide whether to advocate for social issues and risk alienating some of their consumer base or remain neutral in the face of heated current events.

Brand activism isn’t new

Partisan politics appearing in marketing is not a new phenomenon. Issues like abortion rights, BLM, LGBTQ+ visibility, and gun laws are just several of the hotly debated topics that have surfaced over the past couple decades as businesses engage with brand activism. Over ten years ago, JC Penney launched a campaign that featured a lesbian couple and their daughter. The campaign was met with outrage from some, including the conservative mother’s group One Million Moms who protested the company on the basis of “protecting their children” (Block, 2012). Other brands have similarly incited controversy due to treading in political waters. For example, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek explicitly opposed Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay Bill,’ resulting in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempt to revoke the corporation’s special land tax status. In 2018, Nike featured Colin Kaepernick in their Just Do It campaign with the message “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” after the football quarterback kneeled in protest during the National Anthem. Nike initially lost 3% in its share prices, but within four days the brand’s online sales increased by 31% (Birch, 2022).

Consumer Brand Identification: a theoretical framework

So, is the risk of controversy and negative press worth it for these companies to engage in brand activism that could potentially generate stronger customer loyalty? From a theoretical perspective, Consumer Brand Identification Theory explains how self-identification affects loyalty (and disloyalty) to certain brands. This framework posits that agreement/disagreement between the self and the brand is the basis for consumers’ decision-making in supporting or renouncing a brand. Researchers Sourjo Mukherjee and Niek Althuzien found that brand-identification produces an asymmetric effect, contrary to previous studies demonstrating that self-brand agreement generally leads to positive marketing results (2020). That is, while self-brand disagreement regarding a brand’s values produces negative attitudes toward the brand, self-brand agreement did not generate a significant change in attitude toward the brand. This asymmetric effect on consumer attitudes and behaviors would suggest that taking a social stance only results in negative outcomes, and not vice versa.

Behaviors and attitudes in the real world

Consumer brand-identification is a strong theoretical foundation, but real people seem to have different perspectives about brand activism. According to a 2018 study by Sprout Social, almost two-thirds of consumers want brands to connect with them, regardless of political affiliation. On top of that, the survey found that 78% want brands to use their social presence to bring people together.Despite the seemingly asymmetric effects of brand-identification theory, real consumers want and expect brands to use their social platforms to spread positive values and connect people. Data from the 2023 Edelman Trust survey corroborates these results with 63% of consumers saying that they buy or advocate for brands based on beliefs and values. Consumers recognize the power of social media and are looking for companies to speak about relevant socio-political issues on their platforms.

The jury’s out…

The jury’s still out on whether activism in marketing is advantageous in the long term or if it risks driving away consumers. Some argue that brands’ addressing social issues only exacerbates political polarization and alienates customers with opposing views (Zahn, 2022). However, there is also evidence supporting the idea that taking a stance can lead to increased consumer loyalty. The Edelman survey found that when customers felt connected to brands, more than half would increase their spending with the brand and 76% would buy from them over a competitor (2023). With all this said, brands need to prioritize the issues important to their customer base to build stronger connections and ultimately increase sales. Aerie, for example, has incorporated #AerieREAL into their branding which celebrates body inclusivity and fosters much stronger customer relationships. There’s a lot to consider when connecting with and appealing to a certain consumer base – customer expectations and age demographics just to name a couple of things. Ultimately, the choice to engage in socio-political brand activism relies on building a connection with consumers, leading to greater brand loyalty and increased sales for the company.

May 12, 2023

Breaking the Mold: Creative Risk Takers

Sometimes, creatives get a bad rap. There’s this conventional wisdom that they are difficult or have fragile egos. They are called prima donnas, although rarely to their faces. They are lumped together as a “type” as in, “oh, you know, he’s a creative type”. Of course, these problematic behaviors are worth putting up with to receive the products of those inventive minds. To those claims I call bullshit – creatives are in fact the soul of marketing. 

In reality, creatives inspire a thoughtful workplace. They try things, push boundaries. They are risk takers. And when they fall short, they always make it better the next time. 

Creatives possess a unique capacity and are amazingly capable of taking critical feedback to their work. They have been trained to look at assignments as an evolutionary process and are rarely pissed or disappointed when you provide constructive criticism. 

In truth, I have enormous capacity for dumb ideas — my own and those of others. How will we get to the great ones if we don’t throw it all on the table? I don’t mean to imply that it’s a free-for-all — we do have discipline in place. We use creative briefs and other guiding tools to keep the team focused and on point. Chaos in the classic sense is not part of any creative process. 

We mostly leave our creative team to its own devices. The account and strategy teams set out to be clear in their expectations and direction with particular regard to deadlines. They classify and illuminate when needed. After that it’s the creatives’ responsibility to deliver. 

Check out The Top 16 Reasons to Work at a Small Agency. Except for the last two reasons, that are a bit tongue-in-cheek, all are meaningful to me. But I think the most important may be #6. When we challenge each other, it’s not company politics. It’s about doing our best work. For the client and for ourselves. There is enormous satisfaction in seeing an idea play out, through inspired graphic design, razor-sharp writing and overall execution that just crushes it. 

To a person we all value everyone on our team, and we show that through words and actions. A core value here is to preach and practice respect; I appreciate generosity of spirit and hope that I exhibit the same. And I am grateful for the creatives who with their own interpretations bring our concepts to life. 

I can’t be the only one. What’s your experience working with creatives? True to the stereotype or pleasant surprise? 

April 13, 2023

3 Reasons to Add a Small Agency to Your Short List

Businesses of all sizes can find the perfect fit in a small agency partner. Whether you’re a small to mid-sized business that needs a website redesign or a large business with a specialty project your AOR isn’t the right fit for, a small agency deserves the chance to compete for the work.  

Here are three reasons you should add a small agency to your agency short list: 

We are lean (for real)

Have you ever been in a meeting with an agency, and there is one (or more) person staring into their laptops or phones not saying a word? Here is a fun game: think about how much you are paying for that person to work on something that is not your business. It is a bummer.  

At King Fish, we are all thinkers, doers, and collaborators and contribute significantly to our projects. If we are at the table, we bring value. We do not do hierarchy. We accomplish more with less. That means your budget, time, energy, and resources go much, much further with us than with an agency with a deep roster.  

Our network is your competitive advantage

Small agencies might have a handful of full-time employees, but they can tap into a wide network of talented contractors and experienced subject matter experts to build a customized project team for each client when needed. Big agencies staff excellent creative talent, but they often lack the subject matter expertise that is critical for marketing to B2B consumers or doing the deep-thinking work required of regulatory clients in the finance, healthcare, and technology industries.  

At KingFish, we utilize our network to staff projects with the copywriters, user experience designers, and developers most qualified to deliver the best possible work for you. They are masters of their skill and understand (and often live) your business. It is a winning combination.  

We are in it for the work, not the perks

Big agencies can have their big-city surroundings, kegs, pool tables, video games, snack drawers, and open bar black-tie holiday parties. Sure, we enjoy our deck beers and concert outings — but what encourages us to come to work every morning is the impact we have on our clients’ businesses. That’s the true reward, and it shines through in how we collaborate with each other and our clients. You’ll feel the difference. 

Speaking of the work, check out our case studies for a look inside some of our favorite projects and keep us in mind the next time you are in the market for an agency. 

April 10, 2023

The Creative Process: Start With Discovery

Marketing is one of the most cluttered industries in the working world. There are thousands of companies calling on agencies every day to help sell their products and services through effective deliverables and measurable results. Over the years, KingFish has carefully crafted a five-step approach that yield just that: 

1.     Discover

2.     Strategize

3.     Create

4.     Launch

5.     Measure


One core element to the KingFish process is the first, also known as the discovery phase. It’s the foundation of our entire approach and is the point we uncover the insights that drive a company, its mission, and its marketing objectives. Along the way, this exchange often identifies holes a client did not know they had in their business and marketing strategies.  

Passion drives inspiration

When you ask someone what they love about their role, their eyes light up inevitably. There is a reason behind why people do what they do, and we see this passion come alive during the discovery phase. We see this excitement from our clients during our early conversations that shape the concepts and content that will be created throughout their campaign. Our clients’ passion sparks our inspiration. 


Knowledge fuels creativity

When we speak with clients, we want to know what makes them tick. What colors motivate them? What words would they use to describe their employees? Our creativity is fueled by each nuance of their business. 


There’s strength in diverse perspectives

A client’s perspective and knowledge of their company runs deep. When paired with our marketing expertise and unique insights — we can shine a new light on workable solutions to each marketing challenge. 

What is the bottom line? When you take the time to understand the passion that drives individuals and businesses, your purpose, and direction becomes that much clearer. 

March 21, 2023

Top 16 Reasons to Work at a Small Agency

King Fish launched in 2001. Intentionally, the goal was to stay small and manageable – for the sake of clients and employees. After 16 years, it’s clear we were correct to build a marketing agency that met the criteria we set for ourselves. From within, our team believes there are key advantages to working at firms of our size. Here’s why.

March 13, 2023

When Emotions and Experiences Are Sacrificed

We're throwing it back to 2018 — when Target celebrated the opening of its new storefront on the Lower East Side, Target — and when production partner, David Stark, created fake storefront facades mirroring the street as it was in the 70s. Included was an “homage” to famed NYC dive bar/music venue CBGB (the venue was shuttered in 2006). CBGB is considered the mecca of punk rock and new-wave, the place where bands like Blondie and the Ramones cut their teeth. The installation featured Target-branded exercise bands, and band-aids (get it?), as well as a poster inscribed with “The Resistance”. The installation was met with the expected outrage and ire, forcing Target to issue an apology.  

Why were people so miffed about a squeaky-clean brand co-opting the likeness of a dingy, dirty, club? It comes down to authenticity, or the lack thereof.  

Among many things, the internet has afforded us the opportunity to find our tribes, and our identities as individuals are linked to these groups — and to be honest, brands toe a fine line when trying to connect with these communities. Whether you are a yogi or a gearhead, you can sniff out fraud from a mile away.  

As a brand, you must be aware of the emotional connections that people have to their tribes. If you do not take that into consideration, the results are cringe-worthy and can derail your standing within that group. Trust us, you will know when you missed the mark. (One should never underestimate the power of the comments section. People can be savage.) Musicians, fitness buffs, makeup artists and nerds are all passionate about their niches. Everyone knows you are trying to sell them something. How do you execute on that pitch? Well, therein lies a world of subtlety. As an agency, our role is to help brands understand what makes tribes tick, and then to find the best ways to speak their language.  

But language extends beyond words. Color, photography, and tone of voice must be in lockstep with each other. Not only do you have to create an emotional connection, you must position yourself as an insider, someone who has been in the trenches with your customer. You saw the Talking Heads play at CBGB. You, too, get up at 5 AM to flip tractor tires. You know the best drug-store mascara. These kinds of insights are revealed through talking with your customers, and most importantly, listening to them. It must feel real, and that is hard.  

As a creative partner, and as members of many different tribes, we bring a diverse set of beliefs and experiences to the table. We can be that objective eye. Let us help you understand your customers and deliver creative that truly connects. The last thing you want is to be the TRGT of an angry tribe. 

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