Stickers on the Mic Podcast Episode with Keith Stoeckeler Discussing Digital Strategy and Marketing During Covid-19


Keith Stoeckeler is the VP/Group Director of Digital at MKTG, an advertising and marketing agency. We connected with Keith on Twitter back in March, and we invited him on the show to talk about digital strategy, content development, social listening and advertiser insights in the early days of Covid-19. He brought to our show a perspective based on early trends and marketing efforts during the coronavirus situation across the United States.

Keith is a cheeseburger addict and typeface admirer, who claims he won’t eat at a restaurant based on the signage and menu font. You can find him on Twitter at @keiths and at his podcast "We Need To Be Doing That."

Click play to listen in to our conversation, and check out the highlights below. You can also find Stickers on the Mic wherever you get your podcasts. There's more about past episodes on our website on our Podcast page.

Highlights from the episode

The conversation started with a discussion of what MKTG does as an agency and the type of work they do. Then we transitioned into the events space and how brands were reacting during the early days of Covid-19 and shelter in place regulations.

Keith Stoeckeler: "M-K-T-G" is a experiential agency we put on events and in person things that expose you to brands. What I do specifically is more focused and social and content. We do a lot in the sports and entertainment space. I'm based in Connecticut, where one of our offices is and the focus of that office is sports partnerships, sponsorships, and sports marketing. So it's, it's fun as somebody to who's always been interested in such a fan of sports to finally be working in some capacity of sports but majority of what we do day in and day out is rooted in social we do get into websites and apps and all that fun stuff. But for the most part it's content and social.

Stickers on the Mic: How can brands in this time pivot to create these experiences that customers miss a lot right now?

Keith Stoeckeler: Yeah, they do. I think in general, we've seen the bar is pretty low in content. I think people are paying attention to stuff they probably wouldn't normally. The joke all over social is how everybody on Instagram is just going "Live." And I think pre-Covid, a lot of people had no patience or time for that. And now everyone's like, oh, I'll check that out. Specifically in our space and sports, we're seeing a lot focused in Esports and online and gaming. And I think prior to the pandemic, people were dipping their toe into it. I think a lot of more brands and companies are focusing more time and attention there, and we're seeing the NBA players are getting involved in tournaments and also a lot of motorsports and racing. People are interested in it. I mean, I think it's all everyone's craving live sports or some type of competition right now. But back to your question. It really is pushing into gaming and and digital solutions that potentially brands might have had on their radar and now they've just been expediting it.

Stickers on the Mic: How can a brand come up with something that's unique especially like with South by Southwest, for instance, like canceling a huge festival. That's so experiential and interactive when you do an activation there, it's just so all about hype.

Keith Stoeckeler: Yeah, it is, it is tricky. I know you may have seen the whole "Couch-ello" movement with Coachella they ran the documentary and there's a lot of things you can do there. You can do viewing parties, you can do second-screen experiences, you can have talent from the festival watch the documentary and provide commentary on it, you could do an after party, quote unquote, where you're going live to bands or houses or people are playing we're seeing individual members of bands from their respective homes stitch together on a Zoom in or whatnot and play a song, so I know it's it's no excuse or or replacement for the in person experience and nobody I think is trying to say that it is, but it certainly is a great form of entertainment in lieu of what's going on.

Stickers on the Mic: One thing that we're focused most on at StickerGiant is not these big global brands but more small businesses, local businesses and they're obviously having maybe the hardest time of all, although they have the most built in audience of foot traffic and stuff like that that they're trying to recapture at least stay top of mind. Again with the work that you've done with some of these these bigger brands, because they're still it sometimes at the end of the day it might just be a local restaurant right even if it's an Apple Bee's, right? That's a local restaurant for the people that live there and how do they sort of stay in front of customers is the challenge right now.

Keith Stoeckeler: I think you have to be adaptable. There is a small shopping center near me. I'm in Connecticut, about an hour east of New York City. There's a small shopping center near me that has a deli has a fresh pasta place as a cheese place, and it has a liquor store. And the liquor store was the first one to come out with big sandwich board signage. Definitely well done, not handwritten obviously got it printed designed very well curbside pickup text this number, that kind of thing. And then what evolved over a week's time after that was they came out and said we will deliver from the pasta place we'll deliver from the cheese place we'll deliver from the deli. So if you want to order a six pack or you want to order a bottle of something you could also order pasta from the people within the shopping center so I like to think that they came to all these other businesses and sort of you know galvanized the shopping center but I love that. And I think that's a great example of you just have to think outside the proverbial box and say, what will be resourceful? What will be helpful for people right now? And provide it. I hope a lot of this stuff stays, I don't know if that in particular will, but I think a lot of people are getting very used to this convenience of I pull up curbside and something comes out to me. I have to think that that's going to stay given a lot of the consumers are had to get over the hump of ordering groceries on Instacart who never had before and the things that are not second nature to them, it's gonna be hard for them to go back. They love this convenience. So I hope a lot of this stays.


Stickers on the Mic: Yes, the food sealing labels are a new growth area of what we're seeing. But yeah, the convenience factor is interesting and what we're tracking in that space to is just how well, resilient some of these businesses are like you said. But with your specialty of mass gatherings, which are going to be tough to execute going forward. There is also a return to quasi normalcy, where we will have we will have football and baseball, and what will it look like for for some of these bigger brands that again it's like Coke needs to push Coca Cola right and it requires lots of consumers in one place, right. What kind of messaging, will there be to start educating people on desensitizing them to that being willing to go out in public and reducing their anxiety.

Keith Stoeckeler: Yeah, I think it starts with limited capacity on things. I think they're there to your point, there is a very real opportunity and likelihood that real sports continue live sports continue but in a capacity of there will be a lot of separation in the crowd. You won't be sitting directly next to somebody, unless they're an immediate family member, I have to think there might be some type of barrier around them. I think once once consumers understand that they are safe and we are taking measures and brands are taking measures. There's sanitizing measures if there are some type of event where you go through a game or some type of installation it will be limited by the amount of people that go into it. Similarly to what's going now with supermarkets Some places like Trader Joe's, I know limiting customers at a certain point I think it will take a lot of cues from that.

Stickers on the Mic: We noticed that on one of your, social areas as I was doing my research that you said you type face admirers, who loves typographic himself, I'm a huge nerd for that. What is some of your favorite typefaces totally unrelated question. Just wanted to break it.

Keith Stoeckeler: Yeah, it's, it's not even that I am a nerd on this is the type face I have to use. There are certain things I used to present. It's more that I like people that spend the time of the attention to find one that works for them. There is a certain design aesthetic and time spent with it. It's primarily focused around food. I just feel like if you're not spending the time to present yourself visually, how am I to be convinced that you're spending the time in the kitchen to get the details right.

Stickers on the Mic: Now that's interesting. Yeah, because we spent so much of last year doing a big brand voice and brand standardizing project really trying to make sure everything lined up like, and even the logo on my hat. It's like what does our tentative font look like? This is not our actual type face.  So we need to, I think brands in general, need to think a lot about that. That's good to hear that you are looking for that.

What are you most looking forward to, as we sort of end this time period? Because I'm very curious to see what different markets are looking at and what especially just human beings are looking forward to what are you looking forward to.

Keith Stoeckeler: I lost track of the days. I should kind of get better at knowing how many days have been isolated here. Just the stuff that we take for granted. I mean, I've been trying to take more walks. . I have two small children, so we've been trying to get out and take rides in the car, even if the weather's not great. You know, I think I just missed the stuff that we'd probably all took for granted. Walking into a bar, getting a drink to kill some time or eating or, you know, going to some concerts or walking around. I mean, those are the things that we're limited in doing and can't do these days. So you take those things for granted, but I don't have anything that I have at the top of my list. I can't wait to rush out and get back to this. It's just the whole overall sense of normalcy, and that's what I'm yearning to get back to

Stickers on the Mic: Have you seen anything interesting out there from any kind of business, other than your consortium of local shops? Who has been doing a good job navigating these waters in your perspective?

Keith Stoeckeler: Yeah, I think any brand that's providing some type of utility we've seen all the ones that are pivoting to create masks and think that's great. Those that are shutting down the t-shirts and the clothing to make  things that are more important right now, great. The donations only after they've already made one so not with these many retweets will donate make a donation up front and then say in addition to if you continue to use this hashtag will donate more. That's great. I've seen a lot of that for Feeding America and things like that. I thought, wha Verizon did over the course of a series of days and providing concerts and this pay it forward campaign where they had musicians live and they were donating and raising money. Great.

Right now I think fanatics is leading it is this All In Challenge, which of course has just gotten exponentially bigger but athletes and sports and all these types of personalities, providing experiences that people can bid on and win. All the money or portions of the money are going to Covid relief. So those are the things that I'm keeping an eye on because I think they are of huge value and importance, and brands that are spending their time in the right ways.

Stickers on the Mic: This show is all about business, growth, and marketing and we're seeing both growth and constriction, and various markets and opportunities for existing businesses to do their best, right?  There's no other way than just to say this is what we've got to do right now. Last question. What is your favorite sticker.

Keith Stoeckeler: Oohh, my favorite sticker. I had some college businesses, quote unquote businesses, that required stickers, and I always seem to find some of them lying around here. My parents just cleaned out a box of stuff during this pandemic, they've had more time on their hands, so they're sending me all this old stuff that I was printing during college. That's why this this whole conversation has been great.

Stickers on the Mic: We'd like to thank Keith for his time and his insight. Take care everyone. As we like to say on the podcast: Every Sticker Has a Story, What's Yours?