Andrew Warner: hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how to they built their businesses. Um, I have not done enough interviews in the gaming space and obviously I see the gaming is huge.
But I haven’t done interviews because I’m not a gamer. And I feel out of my element. And so when, uh, uh, I was talking with Chris herb on Twitter via direct messaging, I said, I’d love to have you on to talk about what triple clicks does, but I have to just completely tell you, I do not know the space. Well, is there somebody who can help get me up to speed?
And Chris said, yeah, I’ve got somebody here at, why don’t you just have a conversation with, uh, what is Tom’s job? He’s the chief marketing officer.
Chris Erb: Yeah, he, uh, yeah, history with Epsilon and he just joined our company a few months ago and he’s a new business development for us.
Andrew Warner: And so without it being recorded, he and I could just talk about the space and I could ask every question that was on my mind. And I still feel like I don’t have my head wrapped around how big this fricking industry is. And I know to take it seriously. And I still have to tell you, Chris. There’s a part of me that just goes to a bunch of kids playing video games does it’s not bear to be taken seriously.
And the truth is, if you were to say that to me about movies, I go, no, I, movies are amazing. Do you know how much impact that? But no gaming is bigger. Alright. I should introduce the guests instead of just talking at him. Today’s guest is Chris herb. He is the founder of triple clicks. It’s a video game marketing agency just to give people a sense of proportion.
How big is gaming compared to say the movies?
Chris Erb: Great question. The video game industry is about $152 billion, a billion dollars a year. The movie industry is about $43 billion. So if you take music, which is about $21 billion and combine it with the movies in double it that’s the gaming industry.
Andrew Warner: And double it, combine it and double it. And that’s the gaming industry. I want to get an example of what you do. And I thought, do you want to talk about rockstar energy first? What’s the partnership there that you did?
Chris Erb: Sure. Yeah. So a little bit of context. I spent my most of my entire career in the video game space. I spent a decade working at electronic arts and what I did was help bring franchises linked like Madden, um, into kind of pop culture relevance. So how do we work with brands and partners? Um, to elevate kind of our launches.
It’s kind of always been the goal. And so. When I did that for a long time of year, I went to them movie industry and I noticed there’s 10,000 agencies that do it for movies. And there’s no agencies that do it for video. So I was like, aha, I’m going to start this agency. So our job is to take the games like gears of war, for example.
And how do we find marketing partners to kind of build awareness of the franchise? So the rock star example, you gave us a good one up. How do we take our IP partner with a brand like rockstar? Give them something of value to put on their cans of their product and help have them help us market market our games.
Um, so for instance, if you buy a can of rockstar, it’ll have a special custom gears of war can and will have a piece. So content and a code on the can. So you open it up and you will put your code in the box and you would get a piece of content that you only got from, from the camp. If that makes sense.
Andrew Warner: Yeah, what’s the content that I get that I only get from the candidate. There’s no other way to get.
Chris Erb: It changed. It changes from game to game and promotion, promotion. I think when you start to look at the way I tend to look at consumers are marketed, you know, 10,000 times a day. And a lot of the programs are just kind of marketing thrown at them. So you’re marketing to these kids. How do you build a relationship with them?
You look at a game like that probably makes 200, $300 million a month selling them digital content. So kids are used to buying content instead of buying content from a publisher. How do you get that content for free from buying a brand or product that you already love? So how do you build those kinds of deeper relationships?
So whether with gears of war, it was either skins or maps or, or vehicles. And so depending on the game, I think you’ve kind of changed your, the content.
Andrew Warner: Alright. And then who pays? Whom is it rockstar, energy paying for this? Is it gears of war or paying rockstar to promote them?
Chris Erb: um, it’s less of a transactional relationship and more of a deeper relationship. So just like a film, I’ve got the IP and you’re gonna go give the IP to a product to help promote it. You know, Microsoft will give you the rights and build some, we’ll invest our money to build contents, to give you. And then we’ll look for our partners to.
You know, leverage their cans, their marketing, and how do they tell the story about those things? So it’s a little bit less of a transactional relationship and more of a collaborative partnership to kind of build awareness on both sides,
Andrew Warner: You how
Chris Erb: So in that scenario, I am, uh, X-Box as agency of record for promotion.
So I worked very closely with, with Xbox and we kind of build strategy for promotions and partners, and then we kind of go finding those partners and bring them in. If that makes sense.
Andrew Warner: Yeah. I’m wondering, I want to go back and understand how you got here. I’m wondering what you were like as a kid. Chris, is this too personal?
Chris Erb: Oh, that’s fine. Um, I was probably super boring. Um, Um, but I was born in
New York, grew up in Seattle. Um, I, you know, my first real, yeah, 15 and a half real normal jobs at dairy queen and everything else. And when I got to college, I was a bat boy for the Seattle Mariners. So big sports fan, um, and always kind of grew up in sports and video games, which.
Kind of naturally when the career starts. I, you know, my first real job was I was a marketing director for a brand called GameWorks, which is a video game arcade that was Steven Spielberg. And out of all, those had launched in Seattle. So I worked there,
Andrew Warner: What’d you do for them?
Chris Erb: I was marketing manager . So I ran the Seattle store of GameWorks.
Andrew Warner: What type of marketing do you do for them?
Chris Erb: Aim works is 20,000 square foot. RJ that also sells beer and chicken wings. And so How do we bring people into the venue to play video games and drink beer and do those kinds of
Andrew Warner: you remember what you did that worked that you’re especially proud of?
Chris Erb: it, my dad always
laughed. your job’s to get people to come play video games? They’re like, that seems like the easiest job on the planet, which conceptually seems good, but it was better than selling diapers or something like that. So, um, our, probably our biggest moment at the time was it was back in the day as we got, uh, in sync to gum, uh, show up and do a meet and greet you know, close down a couple of streets and it had some, uh, crazy, uh, Crazy fans come through.
So yeah, I just kind
Andrew Warner: And that was you doing it?
How’d you do that in sync was huge.
Chris Erb: it wasn’t the town, he, how I feel, it makes me feel old, but yes, it was at the time relationships within the city, you know, building, you know, how do we give radio stations at the time, the venue to kind of pull off stuff like that. So how do we collaboratively partner with that stuff?
Andrew Warner: Ah, so that was you saying we’re going to partner with a radio station, which needs a place to go and get people to gather. And in-sync then gets mentioned on the radio and they’ve got more plays that it.
Chris Erb: Yeah, they’ve got in sync. What are we going to do with them? And I was like, Hey, you can come bring them to our venue and promote our venue on your stage. Shannon. You know, you have those moments. I think
Andrew Warner: looking back
Chris Erb: career-wise, I’ve always wanted to, I wanted to be in marketing, but I didn’t really know how I didn’t gain work.
She was kind of that first step of like, Venue marketing or location based marketing. Um, so it was really trying to, like you said, how, how am I figuring out how to kind of take this space that we have here with no marketing budget to figure out how to kind of use this venue to drive traffic in just like any restaurant or, or, or those kinds of establishments?
Andrew Warner: Did you end up with the sports?
Chris Erb: Uh, so there was one step in between I, left. GameWorks. And I went to a company called wizards of the coast. So I worked at a, I, I moved over to wizards of the coast, which is in Seattle. And I ran a little brand called Pokemon Dungeons and dragons. Uh, we had magic the gatherings, a lot of brands like that.
So that was my first product marketing Um, so I would, so I’ll give Dungeons and dragons is kind of the example. We would help sit with the development team on what are the new books and stories that we’re telling around Dungeons and dragons and an eye on the P and L how do we, how do we drive this business forward?
How do we, how do we sell more copies of the books? How do we do the marketing? How do we get to build that stuff? So your basic traditional product marketing, launching campaigns,
Andrew Warner: Do you have an example there of a marketing technique or marketing effort that worked especially well,
Chris Erb: I think the biggest thing I did there, well, Pokemon was like, we had, you know, we had billion dollar months in Pokemon, so a lot of people involved in kind of really driving that business home.
And then how do you launch the product? Like, like a traditional marketing campaign.
Andrew Warner: Like, what do you have something a little more specific that you were able to do?
Chris Erb: there’s things that we’ll do specifically at the time for Barnes and noble and those kinds of things. And then there’s the local hobby store, which was there’s 2000 hobby stores. And then there’s 2000 owners of different stores. So it’s kind of a network
Andrew Warner: And
there was somebody whose job was to work with the 2000 hobby store owners and find some kit that would bring people in and it was on them to bring people in, but then you supplied the activity for
Chris Erb: Do you sit together and collectively bring in, okay. What’s important for the hobby and core store for Pokemon who has promo cards. So how do we build together a kid that we can sell to the hobby stores, which would have 10 Dromo cards and they come in and they do a. Tournaments and got to give out valuable content, which is inexpensive to make the valuable to the consumer.
So it’s really about community building and kind of engaging and keeping people, keeping people connected with the audience. If that makes sense.
Andrew Warner: These are the type of games that you were into when you were a kid.
Chris Erb: Uh,
Andrew Warner: I
Chris Erb: I’ve definitely played Dungeons and dragons a lot as a kid. I wasn’t, as into the typical deck building kind of card games. I had a lot of respect for like the Neo pads in the Pokemon communities and those kinds of things, but that was a little post me. I definitely grew up more of a Dungeons and dragons player.
Andrew Warner: They were considered nerds back then it was completely right. Completely marginalized. What did that bother you as, as a kid growing up?
Chris Erb: Uh, Uh, no, you shouldn’t have enough self confidence to love
Andrew Warner: How’d you get enough self confidence? It took me till like few years ago to get that.
Chris Erb: Good parenting. So I have nine year old twin boys, which I teach every day. I just don’t care what people say, do what you want to do. And that passion and those kind of things. I think community is interesting because I do think Dungeons and dragons is very kind of a nerd culture back in the day, but then.
Now you look at like stranger things and kind of nerd, culture’s kind of mainstream. I think you look at even an actor like Joe Manganiello is, you know, he’s the jock of the football team, but also like the DM of his dungeon dragons game and his passion. So, you know, whatever’s happening at the top of the country and the separation up above, down below everybody’s loving comic books and video games and movie culture.
And you’re seeing a lot of overlap within those communities.
Andrew Warner: I feel like even entrepreneurship was looked down as this dorky thing. Why would you care about business at all? You’re like, what do you want to be? You want to be a banker? It seemed very dorky.
I did it because I, there was nothing else I could think of. I was just so passionate about starting little companies where Yeah. I, yeah,
Chris Erb: I’m probably more of an executive that I spent most of my career working kind of in the fortune 500 companies as executives. And then. When I started this, this was like my first entrepreneurial thing. So I’m definitely not the Gary Vaynerchuk of, you know, having to be that entrepreneur from day one.
Um, so it’s kind of learning quickly on how to like it. Okay, wait, I got it. How does this HR thing work? So I’ve got to figure that kind of navigating the nuances of a bit. It was new to me, which is different. Yeah. But, but you know, in a really good fun way.
Andrew Warner: I’m curious about what those challenges are, but we’ll get to it. When we talk about that portion of your life, he then went to electronic arts. You said you saw something in the movie industry, what kind of partnerships? You have one that stands out for you that you said, wow, why aren’t we doing this in gaming?
Well, I think
Chris Erb: when, when I landed at EA, I was, I was in charge of the Madden franchise. At the time I was working on the Madden franchise. It was, you know, it was launched a game and spend $20 million in DV. And that was just kind of the culture. It wasn’t, I did anything different. This is kind of where things were, but, you know, 2004, 2005, You’re starting to see kind of online connectivity with consumers.
You’re seeing a lot more kind of social was starting to pop up a little bit. So how do we build marketing campaigns that kind of made a bigger cultural impact? So instead of just launching Madden, how do we make Madden feel like a national holiday? Right? How do I get people to call in sick? Um, when Madden comes out, how do we get people to get in line at midnight to buy and at the stores?
So how do we kind of shift the launch of Madden from the launch of a video game, to like a theatrical moment that the community was getting together and building that stuff out.
Andrew Warner: So what’d you do to create that experience?
Chris Erb: the first thing we did was we went to a small town in Mississippi called Madden. No coincidence as we’re launching the franchise. Probably about 160 people. How do we go throw a celebration, mad Mississippi, um, and kind of give everybody an Xbox and a copy of the game and do some kind of stunt things, as well as doing your CNBC live interview from mad Mississippi.
And then you evolve that to the next year. We actually were like, okay, the holiday thing works. What if times square. And what if we launch. Um, what if we launched kind of Madden holiday, which is kind of the, you know, the, we, we literally had the ball dropping in times square and we turned it into a box.
We had, uh, Ozzy Osbourne play on top of the Marquis in times square at midnight. Like, so how do you kind of just culturally grow and in turn that, that moment of madness today into, into something that everybody could kind of rally around.
Andrew Warner: No, a lot of that is you had the budget to do this
no, no, budget at all.
Chris Erb: So that’s the, that’s the bootstrap kind of mentality we probably had. We probably had $20 million in probably 19 of that was a mandate. Like, you know, when you get into the NFL and ESPN deals and all that stuff, a lot of that was mandated media buys and stuff like that. So when we go to times square, it’s like, all right, how do we work with Pepsi?
How do we work with Doritos? How do we start partnering with brands to unlock their dollars, to make them feel like they’re part of the cultural moment, but also help funding it for us. Um,
Andrew Warner: so you put together the ball drop, but Pepsi is funding. It.
Chris Erb: X-Box or Doritos, or, you know, we’re bringing in partners to kind of be there on this journey with us. So who’s our who’s our hardware partners is Sonia is Xbox and who’s our beverage partners again, how do we work with Pepsi? Yeah. So it’s bringing kind of brains together for the launch of that.
Andrew Warner: Because they have cash to spend. You just have credits to spend with ESPN and other places. Is that right?
Chris Erb: Um, yeah, I mean, we definitely had dedicated media dollars that were going for the, for the TV buys, but yeah, when you, when you start to do events or launch events like that, um, yeah, co-funding a lot of those things are kind of important. So bringing in hardware money, your partnership money from, from the Doritos or Pepsis or Snickers or whoever in the world that is not authentic NFL partner that could kind of help fund this kind of cultural moment for
Andrew Warner: And is that on you, Chris? When you were at EA to come up with these ideas?
Chris Erb: Uh, yeah, I, I was in charge of the Madden franchise. I would not want to take credit for all of it. We had a team of six or seven people that we would all work together across cross functional teams. So you would never see me taking credit for all of that stuff, but yes, I was only, I own the Madden franchise at the time.
So it was either if it didn’t deliver, I definitely was the one that was going to get in trouble for that
Andrew Warner: So it was Madden holiday. There was Madden Palooza. I read about a little bit, there was also a bars that you opened up, like at the cosmopolitan hotel in Vegas. Am I right?
Chris Erb: yeah, we, so I spent five years running the franchise and I kind of moved into a new role in da where I was overseeing the EA sports brand. And so that was across all the franchises. So how do you get controllers in people’s hands? Uh, how do you kind of build that kind of excitement around them? So, yeah, we definitely did some licensing partners.
We worked with carnival cruise lines and. We took the bar on the boat and turned it into an EA sports bars. And that was the place on the boat where you can go watch, did the games that’s, couldn’t see in your room at our bar, you can play video games or you can do those things. We opened up, we partnered in, opened up stores and airports, so we could charge your PSP or give you a chance to play the game.
So I’m going to get you for seven days. I’m on a boat. I’m going to get you for an hour at the airport. And then we opened up a bar in Vegas at the cosmopolitan hotel where you kind of come in and they seat you. And here’s a menu of the games on TV and the games you could play. So I’m going to get you for two or three hours in Vegas.
So again, connectivity, how do we not have to pay for it? How do we get to build these partnership relationships with carnival and the cosmopolitan and airport stores? So how do we license out the brand, but make it engaging and compelling? And so when people walk through an airport and they see an EA sports store, It kind of stops you for a minute and you want to kind of get engaged with the content
Andrew Warner: they get your brand, they get your content, your experience, you in exchange, get them, their customers to try out your games, to have your experience, and you don’t have to pay for it.
Not with cash. You’re paying for it with your brand.
Chris Erb: I think that’s exactly right. And it’s not really kind of, most of that is because the eSports brand is so big in gaming and so mega it’s not like they’re like, what’s this EA sports thing. It’s more like my flight’s delayed for an hour and a half. You mean I can come in there and play Madden.
I’m awesome. I’m in
Andrew Warner: All right. And then after that
Chris Erb: Yeah. yeah, I, , uh, was friends with a guy named Thomas toll who owns
Legendary pictures. and so I went to legendary and was kind of. Running the legendary brand and kind of growing the brand itself. And for me, when you get there, the first thing you noticed, there’s 10,000 agencies that support the film industry, right?
So we were working on Pacific rim Godzilla and those kinds of films, and there’s a lot of ways to kind of connect with brains and do kind of promotional things. I just remember.
Andrew Warner: I might,
Chris Erb: I had to do that all at EA. Like if I was, and I go get a Doritos deal, I had to call Doritos.
If I was going to talk to Pepsi, I had to call Pepsi. I didn’t have an agency that would support that. And I had a really small team. Yay. So like we, you know, we were working 18 hour days to, to make everything kind of come to life and you get to the film industry and there’s just so much support for those kinds of things.
And I’m like, Hey, wait a minute. Games are. Bigger than movies. It’s more engaging than film, right? If a movie is a hit, it’s going to be in theaters for three or four weeks. We’ve got games that kids are gonna spend five or 600 hours playing that game. Right. We’ve got long tail
Andrew Warner: so
Chris Erb: that the engagement and the opportunity for brands to connect with gaming is far bigger than the film industry.
Why is there nobody’s building these, why are nobody putting these pieces together for brains? Like how come that’s not already happening? And so that was kind of my first thought there. And so I left legendary after about a year, year and a half and started my agency in 2014.
Andrew Warner: How’d you get your first customer?
Chris Erb: Um, I, so relationships, my first customer was actually Dungeons and dragons.
Um, let me go back to where you, where it all starts. Right? And so I went and pitched them and luckily, a lot of the people that were still there were, we’re still working on the franchise. And my second. Client was Xbox, who I had built great relationships with when I was sports. And so, you know, we wanted to kind of bootstrap.
I was, you know, my office was an extra bedroom in the house when we really started to grow, we took over the living room downstairs It was. And then at some point I’m like, I guess I have to get an office. Well, I’m not sure why I need an office. So we opened an office and now, you know, we’ve, we’ve got 10 to 12 employees now and, and, and growing, and our job was really to kind of help the video game side or the entertainment side bring brands in.
But the vision for the agency was always to kind of flip that and be like, how do we be? The only way that brands can kind of get into the gaming space,
getting into film.
is pretty easy. When you call a studio, you’re going to write a check and you’re a partner of a film. It’s a lot tougher for video the games.
Andrew Warner: You have to get into the actual content of the game. Is that
Chris Erb: be in the world. I, you know, when you look at a video game, there’s a, you know, Marvel, I use the Marvel films is a good example. So when end game comes out, they spent 10, 11 years, 22 films building up to this huge moment where this is going to be the biggest apex in their opening weekend is $850 million and is a huge win for them.
Fortnite does 300, $400 million a month, right? It’s red dead redemption, the 750 million in the first three days of no, one’s no one really outside of the gaming community knows what that is. So the revenue on the gaming side is much bigger. Let’s see rockstar, um, rockstar games. When the grand theft auto don’t have marketing partners, red dead redemption doesn’t have marketing partners.
It’s not really needed. They they’re going to bring the consumers in. So what my job is, is to help kind of find ways to work with like, X-Box, she totally understands the best way to connect with consumers. And so how do we bring brands in authentically to kind of share their story and make your games feel like they’re a little bit elevated?
Andrew Warner: So was this at the coast? Dunson Dungeons and dragons was the first client. What did you tell them that you would do? You’d bring them brands to help get more D and D players, or what did you offer them?
Chris Erb: there’s a really. Big artists named Todd James and he created like the Beastie boys logo. He’s very culturally, there’s an artist in cause that Todd works closely with these are really big artists. Todd was actually a really big D and D fan. So we actually pardoned the clothing brand called Michigan Todd.
Built out of capsule collection of DNA created art. It was on clothing with, with Michigan. So it was very kind of Dungeons and dragons, Michigan Todd James kind of collaborations in retail that in New York, and really just kind of started to build some, some street energy around, around the brand and start getting people kind of excited about the brand in different ways.
Andrew Warner: I see it on your site right here. Right? This is one of the
Chris Erb: Yeah, exactly. But when you look at, when you look at women’s wear daily covering the new dungeon and dragons clothing line, like that’s the thing, right. You’re starting to kind of break through and have that broader conversation about gaming and kind
Andrew Warner: Uh, and that kind of takes away the, the geek feel that I mentioned earlier, it brings it elevated to, to a place where other people aspire to be associated with it. Am I right?
Chris Erb: Yeah, I think that nerd kind of culture reference for Dungeons and dragons is kind of gone away and it’s becoming more mainstream. Um, you know, you like it, most of the comedic shows. Everybody, almost everybody in Hollywood is a creative plays, Dungeons and dragons. Like it’s they grew up on it. Right?
Passionate in the culture. Um, you know, Rick and Morty, we just did a Rick and Morty collab. There’s a Rick and Morty DND book that just came out, you know, stranger things, D and D book. Um, so there’s a lot of, kind of that cultural relevance. It’s really telling the story to a broader audience. And so, um, I think when we try and do kind of the collaborations with Miska and in some of those other kind of lifestyle brands, it’s, it’s really kind of elevating it to a broader audience and having a conversation that’s not always expected to be had in, in different unique places.
A good example of that is one of my successes then was getting mad and on the cover of the pottery barn catalog.
Andrew Warner: Right. Like what? Like,
Chris Erb: Madden’s got a lot of other things going on,
Andrew Warner: but just to kind of
Chris Erb: reach cultural mass, like seeing kids on the pottery barn catalog, having a big screenshot of Madden on that calendar, which they make 50 million calendars.
But again, it’s like finding your brand in unexpected places that really kind of raise eyebrows and get people excited about the content
Andrew Warner: Okay. And so then Todd, James, what’s in it for him to be associated with this, with DND and to create this work.
Chris Erb: Um, yeah, I mean, Todd is a huge D and D fan. So, you know, if you want to buy a piece of God, James art, that’s three or $400,000 probably. Right? Like he’s, he’s like a, like one of those kind of really premium artists. It don’t, we’re not going to really, I can’t afford to get him to do that stuff, but if you can find someone that’s passionate about the game and we say, Todd, you want to do this kind of thing.
Bringing him in to get him to tell his DMV stories. If you go to his social accounts, he’s already drawing DD characters. He loves that kind of world with his free time. How do we kind of bring that together? And that, that actually works so well. And Todd was so happy. We were at, he was like, what’s next?
And we were like, why do a coloring book? And he’s like, sure. So we actually launched a, if you go to search pod, James dungeon and dragons on Amazon, you’ll see kind of a coloring book that we collaborated with him and brought to market. Uh, which is a really kind of fun way for him to, again, work we’re taking our brand and then wrapping his aesthetic around it.
Um, but kind of making it engaging in coloring books are kind of a big thing right now. And so how do we do
something better? , we don’t want to hire people that, like, I don’t want to go hire and listen, doesn’t play D and D like, he’s authentic.
We passionate in this space. It’s a, how do we take that passion and kind of take that and kind of build something around it.
Andrew Warner: Alright. And financially though, what’s in it for him is a cut of the sales that
happen on Mischka. Yeah, no, not on the Michigan stuff.
Chris Erb: That’s more of a lifestyle kind of is shorter. There’s no money in that. Really? For anybody that’s more of kind of an energy play that we call it.
Andrew Warner: Like the
Chris Erb: coloring book. There’s more of kind of a read share on the back. End of sales. There’s
Andrew Warner: Okay. But the clothing that he did, uh, with Michigan, there’s not much revenue there. That’s just him doing it for a creative expression. And for him to be associated with a brand that he loves and for you to be associated with an artist that
Chris Erb: Yeah. It’s, it’s not, money’s not always important in those kinds of scenarios. Right? How do you get. Social media. How do you get the height beast? How do you get those kinds of people talking about your brands? And so, you know, I think Nike, I’m a huge shoe fan. I think what Nike does, uh, when they drop a pair of chunky dunky shoes that they make based on Ben and Jerry, you know, you’re not, it’s a rounding error to Nike.
They’re not gonna see anything. That’s not a lot of money there for Ben and Jerry’s, but that collaborative nature of test storytelling. And getting people more excited about those brands is kind of what community and culture is really about right now. And so I think those are the things that kind of get people excited about your brand.
Andrew Warner: Chris, how do you get to, how do you bring out this kind of creativity out of yourself? Is it just partnering up with people who are creative and saying, what would you like to do and letting them be creative about it? Or is it, is it something that you have to train yourself to bring out of yourself?
Chris Erb: that’s a good question. It’s probably a combination between marketing and the things that you love. Like it, you know, if I was selling diapers or formula or something like that, I couldn’t be as probably as creative, but like, if you’re playing in the play in the things that you love and the
Andrew Warner: things that
Chris Erb: you’re offended, like I have a huge shoe collection and I play a ton of video games.
I collect art. How do you kind of bring those communities that are already brought together?
Andrew Warner: How do you kind
Chris Erb: of. Pouring marketing programs around those things that kind of build energy. Like I think Supreme is a great example of a brand that has electrified a community and really kind of build off that drop culture and the democratization, or kind of building content and buying programs.
How do we guys take video games and just plug it into places that you don’t expect to see it?
Andrew Warner: I heard your sister was a part of the founding of the company. Is that right?
Chris Erb: Yeah. Uh, yeah, she was really important because I don’t know how to run an agency. And she actually worked at an agency in New York city. So I told her I’m leaving out of my movie job and I’m going to start my agency and I need you to move to LA from New York and do like, teach me how to do an agency. So yeah, very, very close.
And she runs kind of the lifestyle side of our business. Um, and does a lot of those collaborations for us. So it’s definitely, my wife, uh, manages the payroll and HR. And so it’s definitely kind of a family business right now.
Andrew Warner: You don’t know about running an agency that you needed to know.
Chris Erb: Um, well, what’s payroll tax mean? How do I do paychecks? Do I just write those myself? Uh, what is it like HR, like, Hey, there’s like state laws about, yeah, I’ve got to hang this poster in my office to tell people that like there’s sexual harassment training,
Andrew Warner: what did you end up doing with that? With that poster? They send it to me every year. You’ve got to keep it up to say what your minimum wage
Chris Erb: yeah. Uh, what I did learn as somebody tries to sell you a really kind of expensive one, but if you go to Amazon and Amazon actually sells one poster that has all of them built onto it. And so it was hanging out in the break room. That’s what I need. Those are the things that I really good at marketing.
I’m really good at relationships. I’m not so good at running a business. Listen. So I need really smart people around me to kind of come in and help me kind of learn how to do that. Like I said, I’m a corporate executive. Um, you know, I know far more about stock options and kind of grants than, than the things that I need to build out.
So how do I serve surround myself? I’m not the guy that thinks that he’s going to know everything I’m going to, I’m going to know where, you know, self-awareness, you know, where your kind of challenges are and how do you kind of backfill those and make sure that they get done right.
Andrew Warner: What’s another weakness of yours that you had to backfill.
Chris Erb: hiring, like, I was just used to hiring people in my inner circle, like hiring someone that I had never met before. It’s kind of like, why would I do I know thousands of people, they should all come, want to collaborate and do stuff with. So. Um, yeah, I just think that whole kind of learning how to run a, like, I’m great with relationships.
We’re good with the employees. You have tight relationships, but like, how do I make sure that we’re like, there’s the California, there’s a federal, there’s the, you know, healthcare, like you got 10 employees, how do we build? I’ve got. I got, I guess I have 12 employees in four different States. How do I give them a healthcare plan that works across four different States for 12 people?
Like, I don’t have enough people, right. They’re in four different locations. So it’s just starting to learn how to go. You know, we’re really kind of a polished agency. And so how do we make
Andrew Warner: What’d you end up doing about that? I found that, um, it’s really challenging. I’ve seen my friends reach out, looking for help with that. And then there’s, there are a few companies here in the Bay area that are focusing on that problem. What did you end up doing?
Chris Erb: it to my wife,
she’s been three or four months trying to figure it out. And we, we found out, we found God, uh, a healthcare kind of, that was, we were able to do it in multiple States. So yeah, it’s, that’s the things that are really challenging that can kind of, um, frustrate you from kind of starting a business, especially when you don’t know.
Like if, if you find the people that, Oh, you know, I own six businesses, they just know how to. Once you learn it the first time, it’s easy to kind of replicate those things. And so this was kind of our first foray into the entrepreneurial world. So figuring out how to do we’re very much like do things the right way.
And so figuring out how to do things the right way and bootstrap ourselves into it was, that was kind of the real challenge.
Andrew Warner: Tom told me, I think that you have 50% women in your company. I’ve talked to a lot of companies here in San Francisco that are striving to get even to, to have that.
Chris Erb: Uh, yeah. Um, We just hire the best people and they just happened to be women. Like, I don’t think that was kind of a, a thing that we’re going to split off. Obviously I had my, my wife and my sister kind of came in, but as we started to grow is like the best people that we could find for the roles. And so,
Andrew Warner: um, we, we interview
Chris Erb: everybody.
We don’t, we’re not looking for any kind of gender or any kind of, um, ethnicity. It’s just like, let’s find the best people for the roles. And we kind of lucked out and we have a great mix and a great kind of small, tight community.
Andrew Warner: Before we get started. I suggested that we start out with the rockstar energy drink story, as, as an example of what triple clicks does. You said we could do that or the Xbox and taco bell thing. What did you do with X-Box and taco bell?
Chris Erb: yes. So we do across the board, like we’re, we’re partnering with Xbox to help launch the new Xbox. Uh, and then you halo game. That’s coming out in a few months. This holiday season, we probably have. 15 there 20 partners coming to market at that time. So we do a lot of things across different category, whether it be, you know, soft drinks, QSRs sugars, snacks, candy bar, like across the,
Andrew Warner: one of the,
Chris Erb: one of the fun ways that I think we connect with people is when you, when you find a partner with the taco bell, what’s the most important way to kind of connect with them.
I think we
Andrew Warner: talked about kind of
Chris Erb: the juror retos and rockstar words about content on packages. And I, that’s kind of unique and different for those industries, but that doesn’t really work so much for taco bell. So I think kind of figuring out the best way to kind of collaborate with them was important.
And I think what was important for that consumer is access. How do, how does taco bell give away or work with a brand like Xbox. To give consumers something that you can only get at taco bell, taco bell is not going to do anything that anyone else has ever done. It’s gotta be new. It’s gotta be fresh.
It’s gotta be different. They’re kind of the number one kind of QSR in that category for the right people and their brand is passionate fans. Um, and so how do we do something right for them? So we, we collaborated, we’ve been working together for three or four years, like last year, We actually created, um, at the X-Box hardware team built an Xbox that you can only get a taco bell with a different color way.
And when you turn it on, instead of making the taco bell, or instead of making the Xbox sound, it actually pays, plays the taco bell. Um, and it’s, you can only get a taco bell for a six week period. Um, and so. Taco bell puts codes on the boxes. You get a code, do you text it to win it? And you find out instantly if you won or lost and we give one away every 15 minutes of the day.
And so if you go to lunch and taco bell at noon and texts, I can probably guarantee you you’re going to lose because everybody else is doing it as well. But if you save your code and you text it three, am you have a far better chance of winning the Xbox, just less people texting you at 3:00 AM. So it’s really kind of, how do we gamify the system?
How do we kind of put hacks into the promotions? Like kids, get it at 3:00 AM, three weeks into the promotion. There’s a whole bunch more people kind of texting that at that time. You and your buddies go to lunch and you, okay. You texted three I’ll text at three 30, you texted three 45. And so we’re kind of gamifying the system.
So how do we kind of build programs like that for taco bell that are kind of unique and different and, and Xbox is building custom hardware that you can only get at taco bell.
Andrew Warner: I think there’s a whole Reddit thread here about the times that people should be doing this.
Oh, and look at this, here’s a link to the Google spreadsheet putting in your 2019 entry times so that someone else created a spreadsheet for it. That’s what you’re going for. And this gets attention for taco bell.
It gets X-Box attention and that’s the win-win for each of them.
Chris Erb: yeah, a hundred percent. Like that’s what the TV media does. That’s what the PR does. What the Reddit thing that you’re talking about is really about doing something right. For the consumer, right? How are you building this in a way? That’s engaging and they’re having fun doing it. And they’re finding a way to hack through the system.
If you tuck, if he texted noon or you texted 1:00 PM, you’re definitely going to lose. So let’s give them the advantage to, to find ways to, to, to have better chances of winning. So that’s kind of a fun way that those guys, without us telling people that you could, you can text at any time they’ve figured out.
And they kind of build a habit. The community is around gaming and taco bell spans are very smart people. You don’t have to talk down to
Andrew Warner: Wait, this is, this is somebody on Reddit. I’m guessing put together a spreadsheet for other Redditors to go and enter when they entered to win and whether they won or not, so that they could find out that, like you said, at 3:00 AM, there were more, more winners. I accidentally got my, my iPad to read it out.
This is the kind of thing that comes up because you, because of the
Chris Erb: because of the way we built it. Yeah. That is like, that’s, that’s what I say. The community is passionate and they’re in there, like they’re loyal and they’re really smart. Like, those are the things that kind of come out. If you build a campaign the right way, they become supporters of your programs and they become evangelists for you.
And those are the things that kind of come out of that.
Andrew Warner: I’ll look at this. And then there’s a YouTube video explaining how to do this. And now people are all hopped up. How do you know what to charge for something like this? I mean, I’ve got people who are running agencies in my audience. Charging is a difficult thing. I was just interviewing somebody earlier today, who he figured out, what he would do is raise.
Websites conversion rates and take a piece of the increase that he generates for them. And if he, if they spend at least a hundred thousand dollars a month on advertising and he takes a small percentage of the lift that allows him to build a strong business and it’s logical, it’s a logical sale. How do you do it when it’s something like this, where
Chris Erb: For us, it’s more of our business is built on agency of record. So how do we get retainer? It’s we’re retaining your business. We, I don’t know. I want to get into, I want to Nicholson 300,000 people that entered. Like we don’t want to get into any of the semantics. We want to have one conversation with a client.
What’s the rate? How do we build it? Great. Now a family, let’s go figure out how to crush the program. Right? So it’s really about us spending 99% of our time working on doing the work rather than worrying about how to get paid. So retain retainer is kind of really where we’re centered around most of our business,
not publicly traded, but it’s a it’s growing year over year, and we’re really happy kind of
Andrew Warner: Give me a ballpark. Are we talking about one to five, five to 10, any kind of ballpark?
Chris Erb: Yeah. Then the second half of that, five to 10.
Andrew Warner: Okay. Um, and then after COVID no impact on your business, because you’re the agency of record,
Chris Erb: Yeah. I mean, I think we all are impacted by that and different ways. And so, you know, probably haven’t had a chance to grow the business as fast as I wanted to because of that. And I, you know, I’m off airplanes and I’m probably saving money that way, but less about that stuff. But the gaming industry is definitely, uh, succeeding within the, you know, within this time.
so. Yeah, it’s growing a lot. I think the interesting thing for me, it’s, it’s growing leaps and bounds. But it’s more of people are paying attention. People are saying like, wait, a lot of people are playing video games. I’m like, yeah. A lot of people have been playing video games along for a long time.
You’re just noticing it for the first time media and brands. Um, for us, it’s really like people love playing video games. They really do. And not having to spend an hour and a half driving to work every day and an hour having lunch in word and all the time you D you know, You you’ve, you’re getting more free time at home and you’re going to do it with the things you love and that’s playing video games.
And so you’re seeing a lot of engagement. We’re seeing a lot of people kind of get it. Like I used to play video games. I just haven’t had time because of the way my life works. But now I’m home. I have an extra hour and a half a day to do something. And so, you know, you’re go try and find an Xbox right now.
Like they’re hard to
Andrew Warner: I know I heard the founder of offer up was going to be doing an interview with me. He’s saying the X-Box is, are hot and Nintendo’s are hot on his platform. You have it. People are going to buy it from you quickly.
Chris Erb: the heart, the hardware, yeah. Hardware is disappearing quickly. So, but I mean, it’s just, it’s just people. If you, if you love gaming and you have extra time, you’re gonna spend more time in it. And if you grew up loving gaming, um, you’re just gonna, you’re gonna kind of come back to it. I think if you look at 99% of gen Z plays video games,
Andrew Warner: What do you think about content creators? The business of being content creators.
Chris Erb: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s amazing. I think it’s a, it’s a really important part of the gaming industry. I think a lot of, from a brand perspective, a lot of brands look at e-sports as a way into gaming. And I don’t really, I think e-sports is really important for our industry. I think it’s amazing for the gamers.
It’s not the first entry point for brains, in my opinion. Um, so finding ways, you know, if I told you I was launching a beauty, we are next week and you’re like, what’s your marketing plan? And I said, ESPN, you’d be like, that’s not a marketing plan. You’re buying media. Right? Just like when you talk to brands, they’re like twitches our gaming strategy.
I’m like, that’s not a game of strategy. That’s that you’re buying advertising, which you should really do is we work with brands to help build a strategy around gaming. And then you can use Twitch to share your message, but it’s really about like, Hey, are you going to market to gamers? Or are you going to build these relationships with gamers?
If you want to build relationships with gamers, how do we kind of help build that strategy and authentically bring you into the space? And then we can use these sports and Twitch and kind of those platforms to tell your story. Um, but it’s really
Andrew Warner: about kind of
Chris Erb: connecting with these consumers because they’re so important.
So influential, how do we kind of build these authentic relationships?
Andrew Warner: have you done with content creators, with the gamers who are playing and then talking about brands,
Yeah, I think
Chris Erb: we do a lot of like, so we’ll seed programs. So instead of paying for content creators, in my opinion, we build, we take the money instead of spending money on those guys. We spend the money on building great, crazy, amazing things and giving them to the community. So, um, we did an Xbox Jordan a couple years ago where we worked with the Jordan brand to actually build an Xbox shoe that was exclusive.
And you can only get it from being an Xbox employee, or we had seeded it with some people and like it’s on stock X for $4,000. And everybody I see bugs me and I’m giving him a, a shoe and. Yeah, all of those things, but like, people are excited about it. We don’t have to tell people or pay people to kind of promote and talk about the shoe.
Like we created something that you really want. And so how do you, how do you evaluate we did it for Valentine’s day. A couple of years ago, we have a famous weapon inside years of work. Um, and we built these 55 pound chocolate versions of the weapon and we sent them to streamers. And so for Valentine’s day, they got this 55 pound chocolate bar, their favorite Lancer from the game.
And so tell their stories around social media and do some fun things around it. So you have to be kind of creative and you have to be able to connect to that community and get those guys excited about it. And they’ll tell your story for you.
Andrew Warner: If I want to do more interviews in this space, what should I be looking at? Where do you think the interesting stories are that, that, that interesting examples of what can be done that I’m not noticing?
Chris Erb: In the gaming space. It’s pro, uh, there’s a guy named Jeff Keeley is who you should probably talk to Jeff is. And he laughs every time I say it, he’s the Ryan Seacrest of gaming. Um, he, uh, he’s created something called the game awards, uh, which is kind of the Oscars of our community. Um, about 45 million people watched the show when it happens.
Andrew Warner: 45 million people watch it.
Chris Erb: He’ll give you a better stance on it. He, you know, they watch it across multiple platforms. They’ll tell you a great story about that stuff, but I think Jeff is kind of a great person within the industry to kind of tell stories about kind of the growth of gaming and where that’s come. He’s kind of bedded every three, since he was 13 covering
So it’s, um, he’s a great person. I also talk to kind of men, people that publishers of the games, like I think people that are making the games and kind of telling their stories around that and that. I think you should talk to strangers, let’s find a Ninja or someone within that space that can kind of tell their story of how they, how they grew up into this space.
That’s what I, when I have a podcast and I, I talked to different people in the community and we try and pick out different, you know, there’s neither the streamers and the business people are good. You know, we work with a band called, run the Juul and we helped bring them into video games. And so it’s fun to talk to artists to find kind of creative ways of why.
They’re passionate about gaming. So I think there’s a lot of different angles that you can kind of look at.
Andrew Warner: Alright, I see your podcast right now. It’s uh, I don’t know how I missed it. It’s up on triple clicks.com on the upper, right. There’s a link to the podcast and triple clicks is spelled triple and then C L I X why’d you name? A triple clicks.
Chris Erb: Uh, the real answer is cause it’s ownable on all social platforms, but. The idea was triple clicks and the clicks either being computer clicks control clicks, and there’s a board game called clicks that you can play on that. So there’s some storytelling about triple is really the publisher to brands and the consumers.
So we have some storytelling after we get the clearance that to use it on all social. So,
Andrew Warner: All right. Thank you so much for doing this interview with me.
Chris Erb: yeah. Thanks for having me. I’m a big fan of the show, so it’s fun to be on.
Andrew Warner: I appreciate it, Chris. Thank you. See you on Twitter. Bye bye everyone.