Jason Harris is the president and CEO of Mekanism, a creative agency in San Francisco and New York.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My job is to establish the vision and growth of Mekanism. We have four partners at the company: two on the business side and two on the creative side. We create the plan for the company, focus on growth, and creative excellence. Prior to joining Mekanism, I started a branded entertainment firm where I was a soloist, and I soon realized that without partners, working in this industry can be lonely business. Collaboration and partnership are the key to job satisfaction, longevity, and ultimate success.
Why was Mekanism founded?
Our tagline is storytelling for emerging media. Put simply, we exist to tell our clients brand truths in new and engaging ways. Great storytelling meets innovative executions.
What differentiates Mekanism from other marketing advertising firms?
Our model, which we take deep pride in. We are part agency, part production, and part distribution factory. Our model is the combination of cracking the big idea, then building it and distributing it — all under one creatively focused roof.
Why do you think brands need to consider social media distribution and crowdsourcing more when considering a marketing campaign/initiative?
You can no longer just tell your audience your message; you have to find ways to engage them with your story. We believe in involvement advertising and the fact that brands today can create amazing campaigns with their audience. It is not necessarily crowdsourcing, but it is about engaging the audience with your message. Involving them creates an irrational love for your brand.
Mekanism has been called the "model agency for the social web." How do you approach making highly shareable content?
Our approach is to always think about the PR headline. Why will the idea, content, innovation, etc., travel? Why will people care, and why will they want to talk about it and share it? If there is no PR headline, the idea won’t be shareable. That is our goal on every project.
What is one of your favorite campaigns your agency has worked on?
One of my favorite campaigns was the Super Bowl spot last year. This is a great example of involvement advertising. Pepsi shared their stage with their audience by creating a Super Bowl-worthy spot made up entirely of fan submissions. The Pepsi consumer welcomed Beyoncé to the Super Bowl Halftime show, and we created a campaign that lasted before, during, and after the Super Bowl.
What advertising trend do you find most interesting and why?
Everybody talks about real time. What is our real time strategy? We need this or that campaign to be “real time,” etc. Today, there are a lot of requests and focus from brands to tap into news/pop culture and insert the brand. This is a fantastic way to stay relevant and current with your message — it’s a way of saying “hi” to the audience. But it is a small piece of the story and should not be misunderstood as a brand strategy. It is just a one way to execute your strategy.
Must read book
"A Clockwork Orange." Lots of great symbolism.
“THE BEAR” for the French movie channel Canal +.
It is entertaining, innovative in concept and has a simple, clear brand message.