With Tom Fishburne, founder & CEO of Marketoon Studios, cartoons speak louder than mere words…

Word of Mouth

Attendees at Integrated Marketing Week (IMW) on Tuesday afternoon were treated to a lively presentation that included case-studies, cartoons, and an art lesson.

With the technology, tools, and channels available to marketers today, there’s never been a better time for brands that can tell a story well. But, Fishburne says, most brand building is not yet marketing worth sharing.

Historically, he explained, marketers only had a few channels available to them to get their messaging across.  And the approach was to hammer the message home as many times as possible, hoping that it would eventually get through to the audience.

Dan Draper is No Longer in Charge!

“Earlier in my career,” said Fishburne, “I worked for Green Giant – and I inherited a brand brief showing what the brand Green Giant meant.”  At that time, he explained, “guys like Dan Draper decided what your brand meant.”  But today, with a multiplicity of touch-points at our disposal, Dan Draper is no longer in charge.

Although there is unprecedented opportunity today to get marketing messages across in new and exciting ways, Fishburne said, “we’re at the awkward adolescent stage of this – and sometimes we let the cart lead the horse.”

Subway - QR Code

Brands are not always clear on how to tell a story worth sharing…

As Fishburne illustrated:  When Kentucky decided to re-architect its brand – it came up with “unbridled spirit” as its slogan.  Their goal was to encourage engagement and tourism.  But two Kentucky dudes decided they knew better how to rebrand their state — and came up with a catchphrase they thought expressed the state’s true spirit:   “Kentucky Kicks Ass.”

The tourism board wasn’t happy, and came out with this statement:  “We certainly would not sanction or endorse that phraseology. These guys are Kentucky natives and they love the state. But they have a different constituency. Which is no one.”

Even this backfired.  The phrase “constituency of noone”  quickly became a hashtag campaign that when viral.


“Two guys did this on their own with no marketing budget,” concluded Fishburne.  “But they had a message worth sharing –  and ended up engaging people in a lot of deep and engaging ways.”

Make your customers awesome!

One key way  to make your marketing worth sharing, according to Fishburne, is to gear it so that it makes consumers more “awesome.”

“It does not matter how awesome your product or your presentation or your post is,” Fishburne said.  “Your awesome thing matters only in as much as it makes your customer be a little more awesome.”

Clothing Betabrand figured out how to amplify consumers’ feeling of awesomeness when they wore the brand’s  clothes.  They invited people to send photos of themselves wearing Betabrand clothing.  Betabrand then sent them a custom url that made them the star of website’s home page.  “These people were made more awesome by virtue of being connected with the brand,” explained Fishburne.

Fishburne ended the session by showing us some easy tricks that even the least artistically inclined of us could use to make simple cartoons to illustrate a marketing concept.  Working collaboratively, we saw how a new idea or two from a neighbor could make our work decidedly more…  awesome.

So…. how do YOU make your customers more awesome?