CMO Insights: Al Silvestri, Partner, and CMO, COFFEE Labs

CMO Insights: Al Silvestri

July 10, 2018

CMO Insights: Al Silvestri, Partner, and CMO, COFFEE Labs

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Al Silvestri, Partner and CMO at COFFEE Labs.

In this video, Al talks about:

  • Using data gathered from biometrics to define optimism and understand risk tolerance
  • Rethinking content based on data gathered from crowds in real time
  • The radical changes marketing will go through in the next few years

Learn more about Al from his LinkedIn profile and visit the COFFEE Labs  website.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today as our guest, we have Al Silvestri, who is a partner and Chief Marketing Officer of Coffee Labs and Interactive Content Agency. And we work with a lot of agencies around the world, and I have never seen an agency as cool or unique as Coffee Labs. So Al, welcome to the show.

Al Silvestri:

Nice to meet you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So it’s hard to do justice even within this interview, but I had a chance to look at a lot of your reels on work. It’s pretty fascinating. So maybe just start off giving our audience an overview of your company and some of the work that you’re doing.

Al Silvestri:

Sure. So I’m coffee labs, we’re a young agency very nimble focused primarily on a couple of different categories. So one company is broken up into a few different areas. You’ve got coffee labs, that’s sort of an incubator model coffee booth, where we’re doing most of our amplification work. So when we build something in labs, we amplify it either through media buys blogger, influencer networks and then the other category or the other division of the, of the agency is called coffee live. And that’s where we take live events. And we, we inject and infuse a high level of digital great way to measure the effectiveness of an event. Focused a lot on touchscreen technology, projection mapping audience scanning, being able to really measure and see how an audience is reacting to the content that’s being shown. Regardless if it’s a live concert or if it’s a, even a curator, someone speaking at a podium, you can actually look at it on an interactive dashboard. And then through our camera technologies and our recognition, you can see what the level of engagement is in real time and then adjust your speech. So a lot of work that we do,

Jeff Pedowitz:

I’d say it’s fascinating. So one of the, I was watching there was a clip on Oppenheimer and I think it was a, it was a booth, right? I think I went in and their potential were actual investors. And you you were comparing their reaction to different overviews of funds to actually how they thought they should invest. And then I think it was what it was kind of maybe, well, you could probably do better justice than I could.

Al Silvestri:

That was a, that was a whole experience that we developed based on trying to define what optimism is. Optimism is sort of one of those tricky words and trigger tricky, emotional experiences is understanding how optimistic a person is and equating that to what your risk tolerance is. What’s your behavior is when it comes to investments. So that was a really fun experience. Started out with some wearables. We had over seven different cameras built into this booth that measured everything from how you shifted in your chair. So it starts out by watching a video called Simulize. And then we want to see how your body’s reacting to that. Regardless if it’s robotics in the workplace or if it’s some other type of a topic how your body reacts to that, there’s subtle hints that come along with that as well.

Your body’s shifting, moving closer into the screen, pulling back pupil, dilation, GSRs heart rate your body temperature, taking all that data and then merging it all together, starts to paint the picture of how you feel about that content. But of course it starts out with how you verbally reacted to it. So you may say you feel about a topic a certain way, but your body reacts very, very differently. And Oppenheimer’s one of those brands. Great brands, really open to innovation and trying new things and approaching they approach certain issues a little differently. So we do some pretty great work with them.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So in my head, I’m just thinking a bit, there’s a lot of applicability for what you’re doing. So what are some other ways where you could use experiences like that? How would, how would marketing executives be able to use that?

Al Silvestri:

Sure, sure. I’ll give you another one. We worked with another brand, but a year and a half ago Brent called Medtronic. And we literally took the biometric sensors and built them into a stadium U S bank stadium where this super bowl this past year of super bowl was at. And what we wanted to do has been at Medtronic is a company that makes heart valves, a medical company, and we wanted to see what the vitals of the stadium were in real time. So we put over 20 sensors throughout the stadium, measuring everything from decibel level decibel levels the amount of pressure emitted by sound a way people navigated through the stadium where the ball was at the field at any given time basically measuring the emotional intensity of the audience and then taking that data, visualizing it in real time and then pushing it across different screens throughout the stadium. So you, in essence could look at the screens and through this artistic impression, you would be able to see what the mood of the stadium was in real time. That’s a very, very different way to look at content and to look at how someone or an audience is reacting. And you’re talking about measuring over 70,000 people at any one given time, all in real time, and then visualizing it. That’s a really good way to describe the, the type of engagements we build for brands.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I guess it gets you to really rethink that white paper, huh? Yes. Are they falling asleep on page four or

Al Silvestri:

It’s funny because we’re going back to the Oppenheimer project. It’s funny because that all happened before the elections happened. And we actually took that booth to the Republican convention and to the democratic convention. And it was fascinating to see how for better or worse we actually were looking at the data post each of those conventions. And we started to realize Republicans were actually coming out and far more optimistic than Democrats which, which is interesting to see what the results were from that election. So biometric technology, regardless of her using wearables invasive technology or noninvasive technology the amount of data that comes from from biometric experiences, image recognition, AI is fascinating. And that’s a, that’s a space coffee explaining in a very non traditional way, very, very nontraditional.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So what was your vision for starting this business? And then as you continue to grow and expand, you know, how are you adapting and changing, you know, kind of how are you, how are you going to market?

Al Silvestri:

Yeah. So one of the things I I’ve, I’ve seen over the last 12, 15 years is when you put a brand first, when you put the brand’s needs, first, you start to quickly realize that solutions become a little bit easier to, to come to come to. Technology obviously has made things a lot, lot easier for us especially if you know how to use it. I’m also looking at what agents, other agencies, our competitors are doing each day sometimes each hour. And we take what we’re doing very, very seriously. We, we try to, we try to evolve our business every day. As the digital landscape shifts, we shift with it. Sometimes people say what are you working on today? And it’s hard, it’s hard to sort of keep track because we’re not really here to do AR experiences or VR experiences or even biometric experiences. We’re really here to, to, to, to use technology in very non-traditional ways and then develop solutions for clients. We’re the type of agency you come to when, when a client says I’ve got an idea, or I want to do X, Y, or Z, I just have no clue on how to pull it off. We’re the ones that figure it out, regardless if it’s a hundred percent digital on your phone or on desktop, or if it’s or if it’s an experience we’re developing for live events it doesn’t really matter.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Cool. So another way of saying you make the impossible possible, or you make dreams come to life kind of thing. Yeah, that’s cool. So how do you and how do you measure yourself and what are you holding your team accountable for? Because these ideas are so varied from one client to another, how are you measuring your performance?

Al Silvestri:

Okay, so, so the way we measure each of each, each assignment, each campaign we work on it varies depends on what the experience is. Regardless if we’re developing a, a touchscreen strategy for live events. We’re usually measuring it by time spent. If we’re measuring the effectiveness of a, an ad unit, we might be creating for Microsoft in my diary and my dependent on click-throughs, it might depend on engagement is really what we’re really basing a lot of our, of our attention on, especially lately capturing someone’s attention, recall something we’re we’re we spend a lot of time on how do we use different tools to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns? It’s something we’re constantly evolving, but again, I think at the heart of what we do, especially lately over the last year and a half the works been so diverse that to say we measure an effective, the effectiveness of a campaign one way really wouldn’t be doing injustice to the type of work we do.

Lately, for example, we’ve been doing a lot of live events. And again, you wouldn’t hire us for a cocktail party, but you would hire us if you are doing a big event and you want to measure how people are engaging with it. I mean, even, even as simple as, you know, your typical lousy photo booths that everyone knows about how do you reimagine that? And that’s what we do. How do we create something that everyone’s familiar with? And we put a spin on it. In fact, just recently for Oppenheimer, we actually created a DJ booth for financial advisors at a financial advisor conference, a DJ booth where you’d have financial advisor actually going up to this interactive kiosk, and they’d be playing with these dials and mixing music, and it’d be reflective of the market conditions to, to have someone who’s wearing a three piece suit who’s focused 100% on financial matters to actually start playing around with dials on a, on an interactive kiosk that affected a 20 foot by 18 foot led wall. It’s a different experience that they’ve never had before. It’s something no one’s ever seen before at these conferences. They’re usually given out pens with little logos on them or hats or a little koozies. That’s not what we do. We developed something that’s truly unique.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So when I’m curious subject guys, because everything is unique and different, are you based, are you using an hourly model to price? I mean, how do you how do you come up with an estimate since these jobs? We

Al Silvestri:

Basically, I mean, yes, we do determine how long it’s going to take us, take us to develop it or it so we do come up with as a model per se, but I gotta be honest with you. A lot of times it comes down to how excited maybe I am about the assignment. It’s about the project. Sometimes if it’s something that that we’ve never done before, and it’s a challenge, and it’s going to add to our portfolio, especially in these early years, that were the coffees in existence. We do put a place, a lot of value on, on doing something that’s different. We might do something at a dramatically lower costs only because it excites me and the team and it’s it gives a lot of value to our portfolio. But there is a model that we have in place. We know how long it’s going to take us to develop XYZ type of experience, and we charge against it. But fundamentally it’s about doing great work with great brands and that’s something I see on a daily basis is does it achieve that, that, that thought, is it a great brand and is it great work? And if it fits within that, those two priorities, then we tend to get excited about it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. So what do you look for as you’re building your team from the ground up? What kind of skills are you looking for? What kind of culture are you?

Al Silvestri:

Yeah, yeah. So we tend to look for people that are open minded, people who understand technology. I think at the heart of it though, I do look for people who understand how, how humans behave and understand them well, good communicators. You can learn the technology. It takes time to learn how to build these experiences, but if you’re a good communicator, if you understand how humans behave with their phones at live events I spend probably 50% of my time just watching people and seeing how they interact with their phones on a daily basis. Years ago, I used to go to my daughter’s soccer game and I used to watch how parents filmed their kids. I mean, they’d film hours and hours of this shit. And and yeah, you’re looking for literally 30 seconds of highlights. And I, and I remember developing a really fun tool. Actually one of the first apps I ever built was, was off of that, that watching people and how they behave with their phones. And that all happen at my daughter’s soccer games. So that’s, that’s that’s something that I, I look for in other people as well.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So here, here’s a challenge for you. I don’t know if you’ve thought about this, but you know, we’re moving more and more to a voice driven web right. Where there’s not even going to be your user interface anymore. So how do you then screen no screen? Right. So it’s ubiquitous. So then how does a company like yours and how are you going to help tomorrow’s marketer have, because really it’s all conversation driven, right. So what is marketing going to look three, four years from now? How do you build interactive experiences with no screen?

Al Silvestri:

Yeah, so so there’s a lot of exciting new technologies that we’re looking at as well. First of all, as I said earlier, it’s all about communication, regardless if it’s a, if it’s a conversation you’re having, or if it’s a visual experience that you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re involved with. And I say involved with, because I coffee, especially we, another sort of phrase that I lean on heavily is we build content that’s meant to be experienced, not just consumed and, and the content you become part of the content. Regardless if you’re you’re today watching it on a screen and tomorrow you might be engulfed by a, by a projected image. We, we, we’re big believers that it’s about the experience and frankly, I don’t care if it’s about a voice interaction or if it’s a visual interaction, as long as the experience at the heart of it is what comes across and engages that consumer. The fact that we haven’t even scratched the surface on voice yet is, is super exciting to me. That’s a whole another world that I’m just literally itching to get involved with. And in fact, we just launched something recently with AR with voice super exciting, and the potential is, is phenomenal. So that’s a hot button for me and without saying too much I think what coffee is going to be doing in the voice and the next 15 months is going to be pretty mind blowing.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for it. So Al,  thank you so much for being on the show. You have a great company, really exciting to see some of the things that you’re doing. So really appreciate your time today.

Al Silvestri:

Yeah, well, it starts with a great team and that’s what we’ve got at coffee. We’ve got a great team and everyone plays an important role in what we do. So so I appreciate your time and thanks for the interview.

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