Truffle Pig: The Natural Evolution of Agency and Social?

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Truffle Pig was the unlikely term on everyone’s lips at this year’s Cannes Lions. And it’s no wonder, since the agency is behind one of the first true mash-ups between content, social media and marketing. Truffle Pig is based on a partnership between Snapchat, social media’s rising star; WPP, one of the world’s biggest ad groups; and Mail Online, one of the biggest providers of online news content in the world.

For Alexander Jutkowitz, the agency’s chief executive (CEO), the appeal of a venture like Truffle Pig is about maximizing the potential of each of its parts. “What we want to do is be the eye of the storm,” Jutkowitz says. “We’re bringing a media company like Elite Daily [a Daily Mail holding], a distribution channel like Snapchat, and the agency world, where we make things all together into one offering to brands and organizations.”

A major factor in those offerings will be a mobile-first strategy for vertical video, a simple concept that’s underutilized in the social media world, except on Snapchat, which uses vertical video to publish more appealing and sharable video content.

“The Snapchat vertical video has the potential for visual vocabulary and storytelling,” Jutkowitz says. “It’s very simple and elegant. The way we usually experience video, we have to turn our phones to the side, but that’s not how to utilize smartphones. We have to go vertical, and instead of the cart before the horse, we’re putting the horse before the cart.”

Jutkowitz has made a career out of anticipating social trends as the managing partner of Group SJR, which creates social content for brands and was acquired two years ago by WPP. But even before that, Jutkowitz was a natural strategist, having worked as a political consultant before he joined the world of content marketing. According to Jutkowitz, the two fields are not as far removed as some might believe.

“I think ultimately politics is about a knowledge gap, and the more you know about something the more likely you are to be supportive of it,” Jutkowitz says. “Good political strategy and great content is the only way that I know to bridge the knowledge gap between the purpose and product and ideas of the brand, and the audiences they’re trying to reach.”

He plans to use that strong vision for bridging the gap between knowledge and purpose at Truffle Pig the same way he has in his other highly-successful content campaigns – which have drawn big name clients like GE – by creating content with an eye toward testing and insight.

Jutkowitz believes content is test-and-learn. It can also serve as a vehicle to insight, given the real-time feedback.

“It’s a virtuous circle,” he says. “Regular content at a high cadence is the best way to have an understanding whether things are working; if you’re reaching people or not reaching people.”

He also believes that content should take people on a journey: whether it’s a vertical video consumers watch on Snapchat first thing in the morning or a piece of written content on Daily Mail in the afternoon, each message audiences come into contact with must be appropriate to where consumers are in their day, and add insight accordingly.

For Jutkowitz, the evolution of content involves being part of the customer journey -whether they’re buying a product, learning more about one, or sharing what they’ve bought or learned with others – and being seen as an ally who can be trusted to help facilitate those things. And as content evolves to be omnipresent at each point in the customer journey, the agency must evolve to produce and test that content. Joint efforts involving social, publishers, and agencies will be the norm in the future, according to Jutkowitz.

“This is the beginning of a sea change in terms of marketing,” Jutkowitz says. We’re moving away from what has always been a little bit of navel-gazing, or marketers talking to marketers. The feedback loop is getting shorter and shorter. We can be better people as well as better marketers and consumers. We’re moving to a higher purpose and to me that’s a very nice place to be.”

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