Inside Recess’ first in-person marketing event since the pandemic


Freshly annoyed and got back into the dating game? If you’re feeling rusty, a CBD-infused bottled water brand wants to help.

“Find out if your date got Pfizer or Moderna. When it fits together, start planning your wedding. So let’s meet now, ”reads a dating advice in the new Recess zine, which also serves as a“ Guide to Re-Entering Society ”after the lockdown.

This weekend Recess will open a pop-up store in Nolita to give away the guide … and of course lots of cans of Recess-Bevvies.

  • Inside the zine, artists like Brian Rea, illustrator for the New York Times’ Modern love Column and New York cartoonist Liana Finck reveal very 2021 instructions for navigating a restaurant, dating again, partying and getting dressed.
  • The rag is not exclusive to Manhattanites. It’s also sold in local stores in LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Nashville + comes with every drink purchase from the brand’s website.
  • Recess promotes the event and the corresponding zine on its social media channels, mainly Instagram.

Marketing Brew sat down with Recess Founder and CEO Ben Witte, Director of Brand Marketing Andrew Courtien, and Creative Lead Thatcher Jensen to talk about event immersion, the campaign’s influencer marketing strategy, and sentiment-driven (versus data-driven) Brand to entertain. Approach to advertising.

Pop does the lockdown

The Recess pop-up may be one of the first IRL events we’ve written about this year, but it’s still far from that First one that happened in NYC. Courtien said Recess knew the time was right to get back into the real world because non-marketers – like organizers of The Governors Ball and Coachella – did it first.

“You started to see ticket sales move and things sell out. People really want to get back out there, and the vaccine rightly alleviates the fear because the science is amazing so people seem eager, ”said Courtien. He added that Recess chose New York City as the location for his first foray back to the IRL events not only because of Recess’ home, but also because of the comparatively high vaccination rates in the city.

“We’re certainly not the Foo Fighters at Madison Square Garden, but it was important to do so once it was safe,” he said, adding that event marketing is an important part of the Recess brand.

He explained that in all beverage marketing it is important “to pick up cans”. Event marketing paid off for the first time in 2019 with the Recess IRL pop-up retail store in Manhattan, an Instagram-worthy place to sample drinks in the shade of branded neon lights. “We definitely saw a significant increase in retail sales in New York City with the launch of IRL,” said Witte.

Courtien called Recess IRL a “deserved media juggernaut” and hopes the zine-themed pop-up will have the same effect. He described Recess’s recent experience as “a very weird and funny way of actually delivering on the zine’s promise to be a guide to re-entry into society.”

“It would be weird if it was just digital and we just kept people behind their screens,” he joked.


There’s a marketing strategy hidden in the zine’s glossy pages and IRL pop-up shop: an influencer campaign, to be precise. The company made a conscious decision to work with artists like Finck (582,000 IG followers) and Rea (32,000 IG followers), both of whom bring a large, dedicated following to the table.

“If we can imagine [the zine creators] Introducing to a new audience and then introducing ourselves to a new audience is mutually beneficial that both viewers want to know and respect each other, ”said Courtien.

Recess asked the artists who worked on the campaign to post about it on their personal Instagram channels, but didn’t get into the details. Courtien said, for example, that the contracts didn’t ask them to use any particular copy and even let them know the publication date.

“It’s not just a CPM, it’s a relationship,” added Jensen. Recess paid its influencers for both their posts and their work. Jensen told us that creatives are Recess’s core audience, so it made sense to hire the zine’s artists as influencers for the campaign as well.

“Red Bull has extreme athletes, Gatorade has formal athletes, [and] We have creatives that we see as our ambassadors and ‘athletes’, ”said Courtien.

“We are an emotional brand”

In most marketing campaign stories, acronyms like KPI and ROI are tossed around like pizza dough in Italian restaurants. Not this one. “There are no set KPIs here,” said Courtien. “We are an emotional brand.”

Witte told us that Recess’s marketing strategy is based almost entirely on sentiment, not data. “This kind of buzz marketing is not perfectly measurable. It’s something you can feel when people talk about it and share it on twitter and stuff. We don’t have any specific figures in mind, ”said Witte.

Recess does what Witte called “light” levels of performance marketing by tracking the cost per acquisition through paid media and affiliate marketing. It also tracks customer loyalty through its active DTC subscriptions. But Witte told Marketing Brew that Recess is mainly focusing its efforts on more sophisticated branded marketing games like this one.

Recess spent between $ 10,000 and $ 40,000 on the campaign in question, according to Witte, who did not share an exact number. He said that brand awareness campaigns ultimately lead to “retail sales speed” for his products.

“The truth is, when Recess is on the shelf, it sells very well. We can’t tell you exactly why that is, other than we put a lot of attention on the brand. People try it out, people enjoy it, ”said Witte.

The numbers say he’s … not wrong. Recess’ overall business is currently up 300% year over year. The e-commerce business grew 600% year-over-year and the retail business grew 250% year-over-year, Recess shared with Marketing Brew.

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