Just a few years ago, the average person’s interaction with celebrities was similar to their parents.
Maybe you were in a fan club or attended the odd charity golf tournament, the way your dad once met Steve Gutenberg and got that picture that sits on the mantle to this day.
These days, Twitter, Facebook, even Reddit have changed all that. While you may stand as much chance of getting on Oprah as being retweeted by Oprah, social media has broken down the wall between celebrities and their fans forever. One of the offshoots of this is financial; social media stars have become actual stars, and actual stars have made money selling to their fan bases, which are now instantly accessible. Yesterday, Intertainment Media (TSXV:INT) announced it had developed a social media financial services program for celebrities and brands they expect will generate continuing loyalty and transactional fees. Cantech Letter caught up with Intertainment Media CEO David Lucatch to talk about the new service.
David, yesterday Intertainment introduced a new social media financial service
program, nicknamed Sweet Card. Can you tell us what is Sweet Card, exactly and where’s the push coming from for this product?
Sure. The Sweet Card is a “code name” for a group of social media enabled financial services. We have found that working with celebrities and specialty brands that they are looking for new ways to monetize their “fans” and advertising just doesn’t cut it. These groups have a lot of socially active constituents. The initial group we’re talking with has over 90 million Facebook, Twitter and other social “fans” in their networks. Over the past 6 months or so, we have been discussing with these individuals / brands, their management teams and consultants new ways to accomplish these goals. What we proposed was a way to capture revenue from everything a fan does, not just online and provide a great value proposition at the same time. The “Sweet Card” is the result, as it pairs an online mobile wallet with a conventional debit ViSA or Mastercard and combines a socially engaging, high value loyalty program, all customized for the celebrity/brand.
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I know some celebrities are monetizing their social media presence already, with “sponsored tweets”. How is this different?
Sponsored tweets, emails or Facebook posts are one dimensional, that is to say, they give the celebrity or brand earning power from a single brand, product or event. The “Sweet Card” is way different, as it gives the celebrity or specialty brand earning power from all purchases, regardless of the branding, increasing the “universality” of their monetization program.
Endorsements and product placements are are part of how product gets paid for today, to a degree that might be surprising to most people. Is sweet card and extension of that?
Industries have and are changing dramatically as a result of the Internet and social media. Music is a prime example. Celebrities and specialty brands have to leverage their unique “value” to continue to increase their earning power, so they turn to endorsements and product placements. The “Sweet Card” is not really an extension of this, but of the power of the brand, as the loyalty aspects are prime components of the program. People want to get closer to their favorite celebrities and specialty brands, the “Sweet Card” program allows them to do this, online and offline.
How exactly does the mobile wallet you mentioned in today’s press release work?
Mobile Wallet technology is relatively new to most people and is emerging, given the billions smartphones in circulation, as a viable alternative to handling cash or traditional credit cards. Users install the technology and treat their smart phones as a secure “wallet” allowing them to transfer funds, make purchases and “beam” using a technology called Near Field Communications their requests from their phones to vending machines, bank machines, cash registers, etc. This may sound new to people in North America, but globally, the program is already taking hold. At Intertainment, we’re innovators, and we want to be ahead of the curve, so we’re engaging now.
Where is the push coming from on each side of this equation?
At Intertainment and our subsidiary brands like Ortsbo, KNCTR, we see that online advertising is a competitive, crowded market. In North America, the market is very mature, but in other global regions, the space is still relatively new, pricing is under pressure and volume of ads are very low. We don’t want to rely upon this space alone to build our revenues and our business. As I mentioned earlier, we’re innovators looking to be ahead of the curve. Some people may not initially see all the dots connected, as it might not be “linear” to them, but we spend a lot of time and energy researching, listening and understanding the emerging markets and this program is a result of those endeavors. We believe that this program potentially offers a new and innovative way to create value, revenue and social engagement.
How will Sweet Card work for brands, as opposed to individual celebrities?
Whether it is a celebrity or specialty brand, the value proposition is still to create value. They are very similar when you boil it down, as both want to reach and increase engagement with their audience and increase revenues by providing leveraged value to “fans”. The nuances may change for each celebrity and specialty brand, but for the most part, they need to be analyzed and treated essentially the same way. Our outreach, engagement and loyalty program components will be customized for each celebrity and / or brand, providing the best possible value based on their individual offerings and goals and will be fine tuned based on feedback from fans.