As chief marketing officer of the entertainment marketing agency Wild Card Creative Group and director of its content studio, 3AM, Tara DeVeaux thinks a lot about what inspires a viewer to become a loyal fan. With so much content to choose from, she said, media consumers “don’t want just to hear about a great story, they want to be involved in a story.” For clients such as HBO, HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon, Sony and EA, Wild Card Creative and 3AM have developed integrated campaigns, social-media marketing and creative content that entice consumers “to be involved, dig in, to find out more about the worlds they enter,” she said.
When DeVeaux joined Wild Card in 2018, the agency had been making official trailers and ads for TV and movie studios for a decade. But Wild Card CEO Alison Temple and chief creative officer Nick Temple saw a need to expand beyond ad campaigns that raise awareness and were exploring branded content, virtual reality (VR) and other forms of storytelling as tools to help clients compete for consumers’ attention. They asked DeVeaux, formerly CMO at ad agency BBDO New York, to help them imagine what “the entertainment marketing company of the future would look like,” she said.
She launched research division Insights@Wild Card to provide audience data to clients and help 3AM’s creatives understand what resonates with viewers. In its 2019 white paper, “Worldbuilding: Answering the Engagement Problem,” the Insights team reported that 67% of all U.S. media consumers want to explore further once they are exposed to the world of a favorite show, game or movie. They also studied what inspires consumers — in every age group and demographic — to immerse themselves.
“Sometimes it’s escape, sometimes it’s nostalgia, sometimes it’s a connection with a community,” DeVeaux said. The research showed “it’s not just cosplaying, Comic Con-going people that are interested in this kind of participation.”
Wild Card’s “world-building” strategy was already attracting new clients. “Then, in the pandemic, it became even more crucial not only to understand the audience, but also encourage fandom and participation,” she said.
DeVeaux has expanded 3AM, adding a social media team. For the HBO Max superhero comedy Doom Patrol, 3AM produced a commercial featuring a toll-free number viewers could call to book a vacation at a fake resort, then followed up with videos on social media. In partnership with Mattel, 3AM created a virtual “Barbie DreamHouse Sleepover,” a POV video on YouTube. The agency then worked with influencers to build interest in the online event.
To meet the needs of varied brands, DeVeaux recalled advice from David Lubars, BBDO’s chairman and chief creative officer, who told her to rely on her team. “I’m surrounded by very smart and creative people,” she said. “Asking for help or guidance is a sign of strength.” She likes to hire “Swiss Army knives” — knowledgeable people “immersed in cultural pursuits.”
As a hiring manager, she values Wild Card’s commitment to finding and recruiting diverse talents. The agency works with HBCUs on its summer internship program and encourages creative people of color to consider marketing careers. On DeVeaux’s recommendation, Wild Card works with Courageous Conversations, a nonprofit that offers training and consultations to create welcoming, anti-racist workplaces. When Wild Card pitches new business, DeVeaux said, “Many clients have mentioned it: We‘re showing up with a team that is representative of the audiences we’re trying to serve.”
DeVeaux is also a mentor. “I’ve been in rooms where I was the only Black person or the only woman. Being ‘the only’ is never easy,” she recalled. She often counsels other women and people of color “on how I navigated that.”
Role Model with Heart
Shaina Morrison, global marketing manager at Netflix, worked for DeVeaux as a 19-year-old college intern at BBDO NY. “She leads with her heart,” Morrison said. “It makes teams really excited to work with her.” Morrison said she has sought DeVeaux’s advice about every major career decision. “I think that her ability to see what’s next for the industry, where consumer behavior is going, and how to entertain those consumers — that’s helped guide me in my career.”
Like the people she strives to hire, DeVeaux “has that balance of art and science that marketers need,” Morrison said. “The insights she has gained from being so well-versed in the world and the culture, she balances that with an understanding of how to build business and decide what’s right for a brand and the consumer. She’s definitely a visionary.” ▪️
Holly Stuart Hughes is an independent editor and writer who has covered photography and media for Time.com, The Telegraph, Taschen Books, Magnum Photos, Carlton Publishing and Blouin ArtInfo Media. As an educational content producer, she has organized panels and seminars on artists’ rights, media representation and the business of photography for international audiences. She is the former editor-in-chief of PDN (Photo District News) and winner of 7 Jesse H. Neal Awards for outstanding business-to-business journalism.
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