Mood Boost: Music with a Mission - Q&A With Skullcandy CMO Jessica Klodnicki
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, Brandstorytelling.tv
As brands continue to tailor their messaging to consumers offering community, support, and togetherness, many make the mistake of not backing up words with action. Skullcandy, on the other hand, seems to recognize that the best way to say “we’re here for you” is to actually be there for its consumers. Just look at Mood Boost, the new campaign from Skullcandy on a purpose-driven mission to boost mental health. Brand Storytelling caught up with Skullcandy CMO Jessica Klodnicki to learn more about the campaign:
Last we spoke we covered the successful campaign 12 Moods - now we have Mood Boost. How did the first inform the second, and how are they different?
Both tie back to our North Star – Music You Can Feel – making a direct connection between music and emotion. 12 Moods was extremely successful for us, so we wanted to carry forward some of the key ingredients to keep the momentum going with a new mood and color every month, storytelling content from emerging musical artists & board sports athletes, and a limited edition product drop program inspired by streetwear and sneaker culture.
But, we also wanted to do three more things – respond to some serious insights we were uncovering about our consumers, optimize our content based on learnings from 2019 and add some new elements that would keep it dynamic for our consumers.
What were the consumer insights you focused on?
We identified that our young consumers – mostly Gen Z and Millennial – were suffering from high rates of anxiety, depression and mental illness. So, we wanted to address that head on. We decided that we wanted to break up the social media feed with only positive, uplifting moods and content to give a much needed “boost”. And, we wanted to do good by giving back.
What about performance insights?
Average watch time in the channels that are most important to us was very low. So, we wanted to meet the consumer where they are in terms of attention span. We moved from full length music videos, full length podcasts and “mini docs” to short music performances and interviews all around 30 seconds in length or less. We also learned that most consumers are viewing content with the sound off. As an audio brand, that was troubling. But, we took our partner Facebook’s teams advice and decided to “Design for sound off and delight for sound on.” So, everything is extremely visual through the use of motion graphics and subtitles on every piece of content.
What's new within Mood Boost?
To increase the visual appeal, we partnered with graphic artists to create art prints that are paired with our limited edition drop products. Then, we bring that art to life through motion graphics on our video content.We also partnered with Threadless, an eCommerce company that partners with artists and offers one to one printing of apparel and accessories. We did this to extend the aisle and provide access to fun apparel and accessories with the monthly artwork on it – tees, stickers, skateboards and now face masks.
Mood Boost is a purpose driven campaign - can you tell us more about partnering with To Write Love on Her Arms?
When we identified the issues that we were seeing with our young consumers, we started researching organizations that we could potentially partner with and support. Our goal was twofold – shine a spotlight on the topic of mental health through our outreach to a broad base of consumers and also contribute financially to the cause. There were so many wonderful organizations that we came across, but To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) was such a natural fit. Like our brand, they have deep ties to music and board sports. They are a true “movement” that we felt would resonate best to any of our young fans seeking hope and looking for help. So, we contribute a portion of proceeds from each limited edition drop product sold. And, we’ve partnered on our communications on our social channels. We are especially trying to shine a light this month, May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month.
You’ve also partnered with artists like Cuco and Rico Nasty for the Mood Boost campaign - how does partnering with artists help you reach the audience you’re looking to serve?
We partner with artists, athletes and influencers who reflect our audience. They are young, diverse and unique. Just like our consumers. This year, we curated a really special line up of four artists that we felt represent diverse genres of music and that our fans could relate to – Cuco, Rina Sawayama, Gus Dapperton and Rico Nasty, who we brought back from last year’s program.
Product is at the heart of your business - what Skullcandy products are offered through the campaign and what value does Skullcandy place on pairing limited edition products with equally exclusive experiences?
Unfortunately, space is often limited at traditional retail. So, we have to place our best, most commercially viable product in safe colors there. But, our brand has a history of being “colorful” – literally and figuratively. We wanted a way to express that through these limited programs. Our design pillars as a brand are – Immersive, Connected, Touchable and Built for Adventure. We like to bring all of these things to life through these limited edition drops via the product, the content, the poster, the music playlist. Every month via Mood Boost, we pair True Wireless earbuds with a limited-edition art print, all packaged in a really nice opening experience. On the back of the poster, we have a Spotify Scannable link to a playlist that expresses the mood for the month. It hits on all those design pillars, creating the best possible brand experience for our consumer.
How were you able to generate this campaign when folks aren’t able to gather and are working remotely?
We were two weeks out from launch when the Covid-19 situation really hit. We had to question if our program was still relevant in the new environment. When we paused to assess that, we realized it was ABSOLUTELY still relevant. Unfortunately, even more people are facing isolation, depression and anxiety due to the current environment. So, we felt that, as long as we managed the right tone, bringing some “light” and boost to break up the social media flood of bad news was the best medicine we could deliver as a brand.
Fortunately, we had filmed all of the artist and some of the athlete content just prior to the Covid-19 lockdown. We had started to migrate all of our creative production and editing in house for the Mood Boost program. We literally moved everyone to work from home overnight on March 13th. We have an incredibly social and collaborative team, so we are missing the in-person collaboration. However, our teams adapted quickly and we haven’t missed a beat.
The campaign has been running for a month - what kind of impact are you seeing it have on Skullcandy fans and the community. What impact are you hoping to see?
We are currently in the second month of the program and are seeing even higher levels of engagement than we did on Mood Boost. In fact, we’ve seen an almost 300% increase in engagement over the first month of the last program and 5 million more video views for the first month. People are opting in to the product and we’ve sold out globally both months already. We sold out in 4 days on the May program. This tells us that our fans appreciate the content and the experiences that we are delivering.
We are so pleased with the partnership with TWLOHA. We believe we are helping to direct people to their organization that might not otherwise have known how to find the help they were seeking.
About Jessica Klodnicki
Jessica has served as Chief Marketing Officer of Skullcandy since October 2017. Prior to joining Skullcandy, Jessica spent over five years with Vista Outdoor, a publicly traded portfolio of outdoor products brands. She served as the EVP/General Manager of the cycling portfolio including Bell helmets and several other cycling accessory brands. She was responsible for relaunching the Bell bike and motorcycle helmet brand by returning to their roots in action sports. Jessica was involved in the sale of the business from private equity firm Fenway Partners to Vista Outdoor in April of 2016. Post-sale, she was asked to lead the newly formed Outdoor Recreation division including Camelbak, Camp Chef outdoor cooking and Jimmy Styks stand up paddle boards, where she was responsible for acquisition integration and general management of the three businesses. Prior to Vista Outdoor, Jessica was the Senior Vice President of Brand Marketing & Management at Mizuno USA, a $230 million+ subsidiary of the Japanese sporting goods company, where she led brand strategy and marketing for all categories — running, golf and team sports. Prior to that, Jessica spent seven years leading product and marketing for Newell Brands in the US and abroad across three different categories in their portfolio. Jessica’s final role with Newell was in Paris as Global Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for its fine writing business. Jessica started her career at Kids II, a baby toy and accessory company. She began on the product management team and worked her way through the ranks to eventually become the Vice President of Marketing and Product Development. She has been recognized with the “50 Influential Women” from Bicycle Retailer and Industry News in 2013 and the “Pioneering Woman Award” by the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition in 2015.