Though 2015 still has four months to go, marketers are already predicting the trends they see emerging next year. Given that most people have their smartphones on them at all times, Ivan Perez-Armanderiz, chief digital officer for Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), sees more brands transitioning from mobile-first to mobile-only experiences.
On his own client roster, no brand better sums up the growing emphasis on mobile more than Domino’s. The pizza chain has integrated its ordering not only to smart cars, TVs and watches, but apps, text messages and with emojis on Twitter – the latter took the Titanium Grand Prix in Cannes.
“Domino’s is a traditional brick-and-mortar company that’s gone through a digital transformation and has become an e-commerce company,” Perez-Armendariz says. “Silicon Valley Airbnbed the hotel industry. Silicon Valley Ubered the taxi industry. Something we talk about with a lot of pride is that Silicon Valley didn’t disrupt the pizza industry; that innovation is coming from within.”
Perez-Armanderiz believes with mobile-only experiences, the opportunity lies in nailing the messaging and eventually, embedding that message into the actual products. He says the mobile success of Domino’s, whose digital focus has helped it have something of a Denny’s-like resurgence, can largely be attributed to the brand’s long-standing relationship with CP+B. Because they’ve been working together for so long, Domino’s trusts the agency implicitly. He adds that two or three years isn’t long enough for an agency to truly “innovate and apply that emotional layer, and get into the product road map.”
However, Perez-Armendariz’s personal road map didn’t always indicate a path to advertising. After high school, he left his native Boulder, Colorado, for Stanford University, the first of two times he “chose the ocean over the mountains.” (Nearly two decades later, he left again to help start CP+B Los Angeles, where he currently resides with his family.) He earned a computer systems degree in 1998, a time when two particularly interesting PhD projects were happening at his alma mater. “One was code-named Yahoo and one was code-named Google, so coming out of college, I was really interested in programming and all things Web,” he says.
Realizing ad agencies were going to need access to technology, Perez-Armendariz started working on back-end web experiences with local agencies in Colorado. Three years out of Stanford, he started his own web technology firm that eventually merged with TextureMedia, a graphic and design firm that was acquired by CP+B in 2008 after the Miami-based agency expanded to Boulder.
“There’s an enormous amount of opportunity within the agency and there’s always been a drive related to making great work,” he says. “The definition of great work is constantly evolving: there’s not a lot of time to settle in and get comfortable because there’s just this drive to do something that hasn’t been done before. What I get excited about is new technology, new ways to communicate and new ways to create experiences that have this emotional connection, as well as utility.”
For Perez-Armendariz, those experiences are now mobile. And the key to unlocking them is demand, which is only increasing. He can see the auto industry going through something similar, completely changing the car-buying experience as we know it.
He can also see the fashion industry going down the route, snowballing off the popularity of box services such as Trunk Club and StitchFix. The convenience will add to people having good experiences, which they will come to associate with helpful brands.
“Then you have all these traditional retailers and app companies, and it just feels like they need to implement their version of that and extend their products and experiences, and kind of modernize it,” he adds.
Uber is one company that’s managed to keep its brand both utilitarian and culturally relevant. After the recent Supreme Court ruling made same-sex marriage legal all over the country, Uber had all the cars on its screen followed by trails of rainbows. He commends the company for leveraging a real-time cultural moment and creating a mobile experience that combines utility, branding and an emotional connection that allows the brand to communicate its beliefs.
“When you can combine the utility with the experience that has an emotional layer to it, I think the combination of those is when it all comes together and creates the brand love,” Perez-Armendariz says. “That’s what creates the word of mouth and there’s nothing more valuable to brand than word of mouth. That’s the best ad of all.”