When Momentum’s New York interns got a calendar invite to “Coffee with Chris Weil” I think we were all surprised at first. I imagine most interns don’t get the chance to even shake the hand of the CEO of their company, let alone spend time talking together about the business. It nearly goes without saying, but we were all excited for this opportunity. Chris clearly cares about us, our experiences, and wants to hear what we have to say. The coffee date lived up to and surpassed the hype—the conversation was fun, lighthearted yet insightful, and instantly had a natural flow.
“It has never been a better time to be in advertising,” Chris told us. While it is commonplace in advertising these days for agencies to proclaim apocalypse, Chris believes we are at the forefront of something truly exciting and is happy sharing that with us. “We have more tools than ever to help us grow businesses and drive the economy—if you think about it, agencies are what drive the consumer to buy more,” he told us.
I personally spend a lot of time thinking about the future and what technologies will come to disrupt not just industries, but our daily lives. One recent disruption to the mobile gaming industry—and seemingly every public space—that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about is Pokémon Go, the new app taking the world by storm and boasting more active users than Snapchat and Twitter. So when Chris asked if we had any questions for him, I decided to ask him what he thinks about the app.
I asked him what the integration of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies into our everyday lives means for the future of advertising.
Chris perked up and starting describing his first experience using the Microsoft Hololens and his own ideas for virtual experiences with the NFL. He followed up with the recommendation that I read Ready Player One, a dystopian novel and soon-to-be movie about the future of virtual reality. But what about Pokémon?
Why did this explode almost overnight with zero dollars spent in traditional advertising? Chris told us, and I’m paraphrasing, that this exact question is the root of the insecurity of agencies—begging the question: is the business dying? No, he pointedly said, advertising and marketing are not dead, but they are changing. Advertisers and marketers have to adapt to keep up. If people want technology, we need to give them technology.
While Chris does think it’s remarkable that Pokémon Go has soared to such great heights so quickly, he reminded us not to forget that Pokémon/Nintendo is an established brand that has experienced extreme popularity in the past. You can’t start from nothing and expect things to take off out of the blue. But he noted the significance of the seamless use of AR into mobile devices—“everyone has one of these”—and pointed to that as a smart way Nintendo made Pokemon Go ubiquitous. Rather than trying to create new behaviors, it’s always smarter to work with what people are already using and comfortable with.
In the meantime I am struggling not to hunt for Pokémon at my desk, but at least Chris sees the relevance…
Sarah Kassel is spending her summer as a Sponsorship Consulting and Analytics Intern at Momentum. She is a rising junior at the University of Southern California Iovine and Young Academy, studying Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation.