How soon is now?

Culture in a 24 / 7 world

My Son the Achievement Hunter

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I love my job. I love it because I get to think about what incidents like last night’s might mean. Maybe this one is meaningless, but my hunch is that my friend Grant McCracken would see something interesting in it. Here’s what happened:

My 14-year old son was excitedly showing off a new t-shirt he just acquired:

That's the shirt, but that's not my son. My 14-year old doesn't have tats.

That’s the shirt, but that’s not my son. My 14-year old doesn’t have tats.

So, kind of an odd shirt, right? Some dude with a full beard and glasses, and the semi-cryptic, pseudo-aspirational ‘achieve.’  The image is a representation of Jack Pattillo, Editor of Achievement Hunter at Rooster Teeth Productions. Yes, I recognize that ‘Editor of Achievement Hunter at Rooster Teeth Productions’ means absolutely nothing to you. Rooster Teeth are one of those companies that didn’t, couldn’t, exist in the previous century.  Their YouTube channel boasts over 3 million subscribers and over 1 billion views!

Rooster Teeth are one of those 21st century companies that is shaping our culture in stealth mode – at least as far as the mainstream understanding of culture goes. But here’s the thing that I really found amazing in talking with my son. As I did a Google search for Jack Patillo his LinkedIn page came up so I clicked on it. As I was looking at it my son noticed the “People Also Viewed” group on the right hand side of Jack’s page. My son pointed to every single person on the list, all Rooster Teeth employee’s, and said, “I know who that is.”

Producers, web designers, VPs, show creators, you name it, my son could have told me all about them. What sort of advantages does this give Rooster Teeth? In building a relationship with their fans, in recruiting talent, in building a larger audience? I’m not sure but when I was my son’s age the only employee at a company that I would have known was Tinker Hatfield, the shoe designer from Nike. Yeah, I was that much of a Nike nut then.

From a marketing perspective I see the vast, yawning cultural chasm between the current C-Suiters and the kids that are my son’s age. Next time you are talking to a brand manager ask them about companies/people like Rooster Teeth, Valve, Tobuscus, Minecraft or Freddie W. My guess is you’ll get blank stares. In the next couple of years you’re going to see an explosion of brands and media companies (there’s a difference?) that will catch those in charge by complete surprise. It’s going to be fun to watch if you’re on the right side of things, but very messy if you’re not.

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  • http://www.kevindoohan.com/ Kevin Doohan

    I lead marketing at Machinima, the leading global video entertainment network for young men. RoosterTeeth and Tobuscus are both part of Machinima on YouTube. Minecraft is one of the biggest games featured across our 6000+ channel network. Brands can use Machinima as a shortcut to reaching the young male audience because we curate the best stuff as well as develop great original programming for young men.

    I hear stories like this over and over and over from friends and associates. Who are my age (Gen X). My friends usually have no idea who/what Machinima is then they go home and talk to younger guys in the household and the younger guys know. They know us well. Young males are watching what they want, where they want, when they want, on whatever device they prefer and increasingly, they’re turning to the content Machinima provides. It’s a thrilling time to be in media because the “how” for creators to make and distribute content has changed creating an amazing opportunity for those with vision to create truly global media brands. I’m proud to be a part of it.

  • http://www.rickliebling.com Rick Liebling

    @kdoohan:disqus Thanks for the note, and great speaking with you.

  • Brian Behm

    Thanks for the insightful article. I develop merchandise for RT (including that silly ACHIEVE shirt) and it’s great to hear stories about what we do making an impact on people. I hope your son enjoys his shirt.

  • http://www.rickliebling.com Rick Liebling

    Hey Brian, thanks for the note. Of course I had to tell my son I got a note from a dude at Rooster Teeth, and of course he is familiar with you. If you ever need a merchandise beta tester, my son would be happy to oblige! I’m dropping hints for a “Legitimate Strategy” shirt for me for my birthday!

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