Why You Need Art to Ignite Interactive Marketing

If you want breakthrough storytelling, first look to art instead of data.



The Society of the Cincinnati Cobra is an interactive marketing project that celebrates boxer Ezzard ‘Ezz’ Charles via public art and digital activations.

Around huddle room tables and spread across web conferences, creative teams planning for design projects often begin with conversations around data. After all, we create, live and work in the Big Data Era and clients have ready access to analytics regarding their products, services, the customers using them and future customers considering them. When it comes to providing high quality design with the best chance of addressing and solving client problems, there are always analytics teams ready to provide marketing staff with endless data reports and research regarding the next, best steps.

During proposal meetings and project interviews, my colleagues and I are quick to mention the importance our team places on metrics and measurements around website traffic, onsite interactivity and social media impressions to ensure the success of project benchmarks and goals.

We have a compelling story to bring to the table. Now, we need data to prove our story as a worthwhile investment and market concept.

Recently, after multiple meetings, marketing leaders repeatedly stop us in our tracks at the very mention of data insights. Instead, they want to collaborate on projects ignited by innovation, passion and good risk-taking. What they’re expressing is a growing sense of “data fatigue.” They’re asking for a design alternative. What they’re seeking are interactive marketing projects built around art.

What they’re really asking for is an interactive marketing project like The Society of the Cincinnati Cobra (SCC).

Over the past seven months, I have been providing operations, naming, strategy and writing to artist John Hebenstreit, project director Andrew Van Sickle and art directors and We Have Become Vikings (WHBV) partners Brandon Hickle,  and Jason Snell on behalf of SCC.

Embracing art, community, connectivity and interactivity, SCC will reignite the story of the late Cincinnati boxing champion EzzardEzzCharles around a bronze sculpture in one of Cincinnati’s prominent public spaces.


Follow The Society of the Cincinnati Cobra project from build, design and implementation via The Original Feed and other SR Media social platforms.

The project’s interactive marketing pieces will include digital activations and augmented reality tools around the sculpture. There will be a mobile app and website to act as online hubs for people to interact with peers, educators and mentors. The programming will promote the many themes Charles embraced during his life: career building, community, education and health.

A Branded Pop Up Storefront called The Cobra House will function as a classroom, onsite hub and workshop for the growing SCC community. The project’s artists, designers, developers, strategists and writers will collaborate with thoughts leaders in career readiness, education and wellness on both the online experiences and offline programming

The online and offline programming separates SCC from one of my recent interactive marketing projects; the Brewing Heritage Trail, a project built around a cultural tourism trail in Cincinnati’s Brewery District.

By working with thought leaders in career building and education the SCC team will embed best practices when it comes to providing the programming young adults in Cincinnati need and want most.

This is when my team and I talk about establishing metrics and measurements from the very start of SCC. Our project goals are significant: increasing high school graduation rates; decreasing hunger; increasing college applications; decreasing youth fatalities; increasing career readiness.

Gathering the data from early build through design and implementation will show whether SCC is meeting or exceeding its lofty goals.

Yet, by the time colleagues and I get to the data insights portion of our features deck, our partners from consumer brands, education, entrepreneurship, government and healthcare have already embraced the project.

These thought leaders tell us they want breakthrough storytelling and impactful projects from their creative vendors. They want unique work that hasn’t been seen anywhere else before. Basically, marketing leaders are learning that taking good, artistic risks will lift their companies and institutions above their competitors.

Building a project from marketplace data and consumer analytics often leads to mainstream work; designs and strategies audiences have seen many times before.

To truly ignite interactive marketing work; you need to push aside the data reports and first look to art.


Follow The Society of the Cincinnati Cobra project from build, design and implementation via The Original Feed and other SR Media social platforms.

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