Interview with the CEO

Department Zero was recently featured by the DailyVista in their Agency Spotlight. Below are a few excerpts from the interview DailyVista's Editor Josh Stone had with our CEO, Paul Soseman.


I saw a headline the other day, “Is Advertising Dead?” Of course it’s not, but is the growth and success of experiential starting to chip away at the spend marketers would normally place in more traditional settings? Are marketers seeing the benefits of putting more resources towards experiential?

Paul:A lot of times it depends on the brand and ultimately, it depends on the goal. There’s situations where experiential is absolutely what you need to do, and there’s situations where maybe it’s not. Traditional media continues to be very successful. I read a similar article about digital overtaking a lot of the traditional roles and dropping the word “digital” from digital marketing because it’s so prevalent; it’s just part of what we do. That is certainly taking a big piece of it, and what we do from an experiential standpoint is definitely a big piece of the marketer’s role.
It’s something that needs to be considered in the overall mix because experiential can tie a whole campaign together. You see it on TV, you hear it on the radio, you go online, you engage socially, but what do you do physically, short of walking into a store and making a purchase? That’s the experiential component. It really helps drive consumers down the sales funnel in ways that aren’t possible in other mediums – not just seeing it and being aware of it but really engaging with it and getting firsthand knowledge about how it affects them. 

Experiential has to be huge in auto, right? Michael Sprague told me last summer that one of Kia’s top marketing challenges is getting people in the driver’s seat. He said if a person got behind the wheel they were sold – the challenge was getting them there.

Paul: We’ve worked with Toyota for the last 10 years. If you can get somebody in a car, once they drive it their whole perception of that vehicle changes – generally for the better, especially if it’s a new car. It really is a big piece of the puzzle when you’re looking at converting consumers into buyers. 

What we’ve been able to do is create events where people can test drive cars in public settings. You don’t have to go into a dealership and feel the sales pressure to test drive. You can do it when you’re out with your family at various events, and walk away with a much better understanding of the car.
Besides this type of expertise, how else does Department Zero differentiate itself from competitors, including from a philosophical or cultural approach?

Paul: We’re really moving towards redefining ourselves as a brand activation agency. The service offerings are the same but it’s taking a different mindset to how we approach things. That’s really what separates us from a lot of our competitors – we take a very creative and strategic approach to every project.
Our process involves taking a deep dive into clients’ challenges, goals and objectives, and really trying to understand what that landscape is. We want to build a program around all of that to help meet their goals. Every program that we do is different. We don’t have anything that is a stock and lock execution; it’s all designed around meeting a very specific challenge.