Creating a brand, talking about brands and living the brands are overused or cliche to me, but it’s also a basic truth to building something powerful that move people to buy and share. It’s funny that it’s a buzz phrase now, because I was living the brands from a very young age, way before it was cool. I was a strangely brand loyal child. I only used Crest toothpaste and I only drank Pepsi products. If I used Colgate, I felt I was somehow cheating on Crest. And how could I drink Coke? What would our Pepsi man say? (we had a glass bottle dispensed Pepsi machine in my parent’s flower shop.) Later, when I worked in marketing at a plumbing parts import company (for real), my dad bought valves for his greenhouse from me. I would search out the red-handled signature valves in stores, at people’s homes and on TV. In fact, there was a B&K valve in a Supernatural episode! It’s funny, 20 years after working for B&K, I noticed this red valve in one of my favorite shows.
My love affair with brands encompassed my love of advertising. When I was a kid playing with my Barbie cruise ship in the living room, I would stop and listen closely during the commercials, but go back to playing when the show resumed. Today, I am still in awe of wonderful advertising. To entertain and connect with people so they buy things they will love? That’s cool to me. I studied advertising, both at IU and after. When I was fresh out of college and working as a receptionist/jack-of-all-trades at a small creative agency, I read a great book that lives with me still: “My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising” by Claude Hopkins. Two anecdotes that stuck out for me were his stories of David Ogilvy and how, when he had the Sears account, he only wore suits from Sears. And also how demonstration is the key to good advertising, when possible. It sounds old fashion, but our journals sell 10 times better when we have full samples with our photos in it and can explain the journal, than if we just have blank products on the tables.
Clearly, I have been a brand-fan pretty much entire life. And that extends to the business we are building today. I love our brand. It’s totally unique (another bad buzzword) but there is no one else making journals like what we are producing. But my brand loyalty is not just to ours. The brands that we license are just as close to my heart. We have made products based on things I love. We have gone after licenses based on those same things. I strongly believe that the best creators and marketers do their best work when they are in love with what they are selling or making. It seems like common sense to me, but in this world of so many jobs to do and so many products to make, it’s less likely that those making and marketing these brands are actually brand-fans. There is something really magical about a group of people, who love a brand or a show or an event, coming together and creating things they are excited about because they are FANS. That’s what I mean by living and loving the brand. This love affair is what propels us to research every place Sam and Dean Winchester have road tripped over 11 seasons. And it makes our journals and our merchandise special. It’s why fan art thrives and sometimes the corporate makers don’t always hit the mark. I know it’s not possible for all people making pop culture merch to be a fan of every single thing and I’m lucky that I get to go after what I really love. But just like when I was marketing valves, any new brand that I am working on becomes one of my new favorite things. And then the love affair begins.
This post is off topic from my usual and infrequent writings here on our new products, what inspires us and our fun events. But this struck me today. I was looking at LinkedIn and saw people liking and commenting on a particular post I found interesting from a man I am not connected to. He is a high level marketing professional, in his 40s or 50s I presume. He has experience with some of the leading fast food and consumer products in the world. An interviewer asked him what his spirit animal and his super power would be. He did not understand why these questions would be asked and what they would even reveal. He did not know what a spirit animal is. The number of outraged, angry responders to this, calling the questions ridiculous, rude and dumb just really surprised me.
I think the question is very revealing and probably did what it was meant to do. If you’re interviewing someone who will be working with brands that speak to younger people or are part of the pop culture world and the interviewee either doesn’t know what those things are or is too taken off guard by the question to adapt, then this is candidate is not for you.
I’m 48, was in advertising and marketing for 20 years before starting my own businesses. I love that these are interview questions. I say yes to more personality! Yes to questions that are fun and interesting!
To answer the interview question, I think my answer on spirit animal would be: That depends. I love my Patronus, which is a white stag (I’m pretty psyched about that). I was called a bulldog often in the corporate world and I took that as a huge compliment, whether they meant it that way or not. I also found a lion speaks to me because of a meme about “being the storm” with a lion as the image.
My super power? I think this is going to sound evil (probably why I’m Slytherin) but getting people to do what I want. When I was in marketing, biggest challenge was to get the departments to work together so we could support successful campaigns and do things out of the norm. As a small business owner, it’s getting in front of the buyers and properties. I’m thinking I could use my mind powers to make the buyers answer my emails and carry ALL OF OUR THINGS – mooooowahahahaha.
I guess I kind of wanted someone to ask me that question 😉
First, Supernatural fans are the reason our business still exists. When we were struggling with our Con*Quest Adventure Journal (a special binder/smash journal for comic con photo ops, autographs and con memories), it was Creation Entertainment and the Supernatural family who saved us. Literally.
When we started Con*Quest Journals, it was Creation who first bought a wholesale order from us of the 1st draft of our journal.
Fast forward to one year later and an upcoming Supernatural con. We made a very rough Supernatural “inspired” journal. It was basically brown cardboard and brown pages. And we sold more of those journals at that Supernatural con in Vegas than we had at C2E2, Wondercon and a Wizard World con – COMBINED. That pretty much gave us our path.
Second, when we found our artist, siren and creative genius (aka Tracey Gurney) we knew we found someone who loved Supernatural. Someone who was an even bigger fan girl than me. And I do love it. But she KNOWS IT. So when Tracey and Ted and I would talk about what to make, John Winchester’s Journal was always on the top of our list because as fans, we wanted it too.
Finally, when you have the power and have made the investment with a license to make the one thing that we know every Supernatural fan would love then why the hell wouldn’t you do it? Exactly.
So after over a year of blood, sweat, frustration, tears, shrieks of joy and near gut wrenching struggle, we are so proud to announce pre-orders of a replica John Winchester Journal!
We did our very best to recreate as many of John’s original diary entries and monster pages as we could. We could not get approval on the photographs or some of the original news articles, so we drew images and we wrote articles and made up funeral notices and laughed.
Tracey wanted to make a Turducken Slammer ad so we did (and it’s glorious.)
We wanted a Mystery Spot brochure, so Tracey and I watched the episode hundreds of times, on the phone together, pausing it while Dean flips it around in his hands.
We have watched this 10 seconds so many, many times.
Our conversations went like this: “Is that an alien with a soda bottle?” – “Sure, let’s go with that.”
We also wanted extra lined pages in the back so it’s a living journal. You can your own notes and stories to those pages.
We launched pre-orders for shipping June 19th this week. Amy Ratcliffe wrote an exclusive and wonderful post for The Nerdist. Ted, Tracey and I were on a 3 way call for the first 2 hours of launch when the story went live. Sometimes we were all quietly working, sometimes we were checking the comments on the Nerdist Facebook post together and sometimes we were talking about our strategy going forward. I love our team.
Team Con*Quest Journals
We plan to make more page packs with new monster info and drawings so you can add them to your journal.
To the Warner Bros. team: thank you for believing in us and letting us take this opportunity to make something truly remarkable and hopefully beloved by the fans.
To our Supernatural family and friends: we love you and thank you for the support and kindness you have shown us. We hope you love this journal and map as much as we do.
Our focus is clear. We plan to keep making more ways for fans to be creative with their fandom. Because ultimately that’s what is all about: the fans.
We are so excited to introduce our new Supernatural spiral journals! We’ve created three designs: our Winchester brothers journal with Dean featured on the front and Sam on the back, a Castiel journal and a Crowley journal. All three have gorgeous art wrap around from the front cover to the back. They are 5″ x 7″ with 50 pt gloss board covers and each journal has 100 watermarked pages. We even have a special deal when you buy all three!
We have more new Supernatural merchandise coming soon so keep watching!
WOOHOOOOOO! We are so excited to FINALLY be able to tell everyone about our new SUPERNATURAL licensed journals, sticker sheets and tote bags! We’ve been working for months and our Creative Director Tracey has done a fantastic job with the design! You can pre-order now for shipping beginning the week of October 24 or pick one up for the first time at Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural Convention in Atlanta!
Here’s our video walk through of the journal and more detailed pictures below! This journal is dedicated to our SUPERNATURAL friends and family. You are why we do what we do! <3