For Episode 21 I spoke with someone who’s been an animated head more times than he can probably count: Paul Hangesis CEO of JibJab, which is famous for its personalized e-cards and satire animations that lets your head be the star! If you haven’t heard of JibJab you may have had YOUR head in the sand; they’re the OG of digital branded content. It was born in 1999 to brothers Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, perhaps best recalled from their 2004 glory days of being featured on everything from The Tonight Show to ABC News for then viral political satire, “This Land.”
Hanges, who was promoted from COO 18 months ago, says they’re proud of being dubbed the “original online cockroach” for their longevity and survival of dot-com and economy busts. In our conversation he explains why JibJab is still hot more than 20 years since its inception. They’re even having something of a renaissance with the resurrection of their trademark Year in Review video after a six-year pause. (But how could you NOT do a recap of a year like 2020? For Chief Creative Officer Mauro Gattiand lyricist Scott Emmonsit probably almost wrote itself! And I’m proud to offer my big head/floppy jaw cut here for your amusement by way of example!)
Hanges also explains the appeal of low-tech animation and their trademark “big heads and floppy jaws,” how they survive as a subscription model and why they walk away from brand dollars if not aligned with their mission – “to make billions of people happy by allowing them to be funny, wherever they’re having that conversation.”
Here are the highlights – but do hear all Hanges has to say in this very “animated” conversation:
How it all started – yes in the proverbial garage
Why, in a world of “deep fakes and augmentation” the appeal of JibJab is the personalization and NOT to replace reality. “We want to provide utility to help people say happy birthday or anniversary or other big moments.”
How personal micro networks add up to eyeballs at scale – and 1.3 million paying subscribers;
How they’ll leverage the rights to hits like “Old Town” or Mamma Mia the musical, but why they’ll walk away from 95% ofbranded opportunities;
Why politics and JibJab do not always make good bedfellows, but why they participated in the Facebook ad boycott in July to stand up to divisiveness;
How (self-plug here) they balance “brand+demand,” — as we promote in The Continuum;
The big data opportunity they’re sitting on to be a personalized service for people and how they’ve had to be nimble and “pivot” in their production and platform access.
And of course, for the last episode of 2020 we have to offer Hanges’ words of wisdom from the past full year as CEO to other new CEOs…and how to embrace your strengths and those of others as well. “I take a step back and look and say, ‘we have a very strong operating team that’s working towards a goal of making billions of people happy.’ …And I’ve been really proud to say I can lead this company with that mission.”
Personally, I could not have wrapped up my first year of Insider Interviews podcasts (AND my “It’s Quite a Living” personal podcast) with a better message than to “head” into 2021 with the inspiration of a JibJab to find the humor and spread the joy throughout this holiday season and into 2021.
Thank you all for listening and hopefully sharing this podcast. I value your feedback and support. And if I can help you create content that spreads joy or opens revenue doors please visit Moss Appeal or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Smith joined National Public Radio as chief marketing officer at a time when the nation — and the world — had just entered crisis mode. In addition to adapting to his new job he’s needed to shift the company’s marketing message, outreach and the very stance the brand has taken over the past years. Part of that shift was motivated by more digital audio listening given more at-home workers during our pandemic. The parallel motivation was to amplify more multicultural voices and drive greater diversity within the halls of the company itself.
In Episode 15, Michael shares his observations, his approach and some insider scoop from his winged-back chair in New Jersey. For example, he explains how different audiences respond to NPR’s content. Michael tells us that “among regular users when we look at people of color versus white listeners, their satisfaction levels are actually higher. So it’s an exciting thing in the sense that if we can get more people to know that we’re there and to get us into their consideration set, when they come, I think they’re going to love it.”
Michael had primarily been focused on network video, developing strategies to reach younger and more diverse audiences on streaming platforms for Cooking Channel, and Food Network — where he and I worked together during the last big crisis for the country, 9/11! He has quickly learned to apply his know-how to linear radio and on demand audio.
“When they start to know some of these shows where there are young, diverse hosts, a Sam Sanders or [they get to know the] hosts of Pop Culture Happy Hour, that creates so much more engagement than when they just see the three block letters, NPR.”
The fast 35-minute discussion includes suggestions all brands can appreciate from a world-class marketer like Michael Smith. We talked about:
The challenges most media companies are facing right now
How to move from linear to on demand streaming digital platforms
Balancing linear, podcasting and the NPR One app
How has Coronavirus Daily evolved as a show…and the ongoing need for that content?
How NPR itself has evolved since its origins in the 60s, and why its signature audio style is intentionally like a mental “exhale”
Working with the sponsorship team, NPM
Michael’s optimism — and any pessimism — for the future.
Get the “insider scoop” on how to dive in to creating a place in the podcasting world. The talented Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, Founder/CEO of Lantigua Williams & Co., an award-winning and Peabody-nominated digital media studio, walked us through her anxiety through her achievements. While she’s humble enough to just describe herself as someone who builds teams that create podcasts, those teams have turned out hit after hit in three short years. But Lantigua-Williams has the chops, from 20 years of experience as a writer, reporter, editor, syndicated columnist, book editor/scout, lecturer, and audio producer!
The differentiator for this company? Its mission to support and amplify the creators and stories “from the margins” – which often means by and about women of color. These shows include Latina to Latina, which just passed 100 episodes, 70 Million, and Feeling My Flo. But Lantigua-Williams also does consulting and white-label production services for clients like Macmillan Podcasts (Driving the Green Book), the Phi Beta Kappa Society, WHYY, KQED, and Civil Beat.
Another secret weapon for success is Juleyka’s authenticity and generosity. She’s set a tone of sharing — which you’ll hear candidly in this conversation and can read in her posts on the company site and elsewhere, like this very guide to “centering marginalized people in your podcast.”
Listen and learn the ins and outs of producing a show and starting a company as Juleyka shares her knowledge and expertise including:
How Juleyka embraces her BFF, named “Insomnia”, and sidekick, Perfectionism
The path from intern to producer to company founder – as a “hyphenated American”
The first step to starting any company
Staying true to Juleyka’s vision for her company
How some shows came about (umm, conversations around astronauts menstruating in space?) and upcoming projects
Normally I come out with a new episode of “Insider Interviews” every Thursday, but did you know that I also have another podcast? It’s sort of my personal passion project and it’s called “It’s Quite a Living“, and it’s with “my friends in high places”. They’re really casual conversations about some high profile people who happen to be my friends. Now, that one comes out every other Tuesday.
So I’ve decided to make “Insider Interviews” — the B2B one speaking with those in media marketing and advertising — come out every other Thursday…at least through the summer.
Of course, if an eager sponsor* wants me to produce more frequently bring it on! Otherwise, you’ll hear Episode 11 NEXT Thursday.
Frankly, it’s been a LOT to create, host and post two podcasts a week, even though I love it — especially during our current times, and especially since I seem to be developing a reputation for singing to my guests. Listeners understand that…. But do stay subscribed because you won’t want to miss the CEO of Quigley Simpson, Carl Fremont, who will be my very interesting next guest!
I’m very, very proud of what we’ve been able to do together to bring you great content about the industry. And I really appreciate all of the great ratings you’ve given me and the subscribing and sharing. You can listen just about anywhere you like (although Pandora is still a hold out, I’m just sayin’.) Thank you for telling everyone in the industry. It means a lot to me.
*And, if you want to sponsor an episode of EITHER podcast, or suggest a guest for “Insider Interviews”, please reach out at email@example.com. I’m “hear” for you!
The world of comic books and graphic novels is serious fun.Meaning, both serious and fun. From a serious shift in the revenue model as paper product has gone digital and the edutainment factor of non-fiction hand-drawn histories, to the wildly wicked fantasies spawned by Barbarella type heroines to fictionalized lives of heroes among us.Darren G. Davis, president of one of the leading producers of both the serious and the fun books, TidalWave Productions, made a spontaneous appearance for Episode 8 of Insider Interviews with E.B. Moss – who was actually his former boss at the start of his career in entertainment, and now counts herself as a friend to the seriously funny founder!
In an office surrounded by framed super heroes, acquired during his days at DC Comics, and signed comic book covers from his biographical spins on everyone from Hillary Clinton to Barbara Walters, Davis both reminisced about our days at E! and his path forward from there, dished the dirt, and shared breaking news of stranger than fiction comics to come. Hint: Thought you’d heard the last of Stormy Daniels?….
Davis described the evolution of some of the iconic titles he’s created or developed over the past 20 years, including the top-selling “10th Muse” for Image Comics, and the niche he carved out in the fiction world via successful collaborations with iconic larger than life real characters ranging from William Shatner (Star Trek) and Adam West (Batman), to Vincent Price, William Nolan (Logan’s Run), Roger Corman, and now even the infamous Tiger King!
Listen for some of these moments, but it’s a breezy 35-minutes and you’ll want to hear all the fairly unfiltered anecdotes of this side of the content business:
03:45 Leveraging an E! internship to a network ad sales career to marketing “B” movies (including his first encounter with Leprechaun the movie, which made its way years later into a comic book) to repping artists — and how it all came together to create a new career;
08:00: From the muse of Olivia Newton John to learning to love the WWF
09:30: The difference between a comic book and a graphic novel
:11:40: Phone messages from Batman and making misadventures for Adam West
13:00: How Julie Newmar ended up back in time as Catwoman meets super-secret spy
15:25: How to wear multiple hats and learn to pivot as a manager
17:10: How to calm the tempest of Stormy Daniels’ angry manager (or lawyer) and wind up as friends – and business partners
20:25: Turing women ranging from Condoleezza, and Sarah to Hillary and Stormy into a female force series (Hint: listen here for the breaking news!) to showcase the positivity in what they’ve accomplished – and the inspiration for it from the master, Stan Lee;
23:15: The origins and value of comic books as educational – and taking a non-partisan stance, even when drawing on Obama to Bush;
27:25: How Nook and Google and other platforms fill in the pages of lost print ads
29:00: A not so serious discussion of fantasy super powers
30:20 A serious discussion of celebrations and creations during COVID times
33:00: The evolution of a “best worst idea”… twice
And…best ending ever? Davis pays tribute to Moss as SuperMentor.
PS: You heard this here first, too: He promises to put me in a comic some day!