Rotterdam & Catto Team up to Market Comics
Back in the 1980s, as the emphasis switched from characters and editors to creators, it was inevitable that agents would arrive to help the new super-stars cut favorable deals. As a result, its a little surprising it took this long for a marketing agency to arrive to service the “geek culture”. The principals involved are certainly industry-tested and both are well liked. We wish them and their new endeavor well.
NEW YORK, N.Y. (Jan. 3, 2011) – Two veteran New York marketing executives are joining forces to open a new full-service advertising and marketing firm, Bonfire Agency, LLC, specializing in helping brands target highly influential but difficult to engage pop culture consumers. This demo, labeled by some as geek or comic culture, is comprised of incredibly passionate and highly influential fans of everything from comic books, video games and action films to underground music, sci-fi inspired television and cutting edge adult comedy.
“We’re calling them ‘firestarters,’” said Steve Rotterdam, former Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for TimeWarner’s DC Comics and co-founder of Bonfire Agency. “These are hyper-networked consumers that film studios strive to connect with through events like the San Diego Comic-Con because their endorsement of a project, especially in its early stages, can generate serious heat that can propel a film to box office success or green light a second season for a TV series on the bubble.”
“They’re evangelists for everything ‘awesome,’” said co-founder Ed Catto, former Senior Vice President at Reed Exhibitions and a specialist in uniting brands with pop culture icons. “They’re the first in line and the first to pass judgment as to whether something is authentic or not – and because of their intense, passionate engagement, they’ll go to incredible extremes to let others know exactly what they think.”
“These are the guys that, in 2009, made Paranormal Activity a surprise hit and sank Brüno,” added Rotterdam.
Industry figures indicate that this core group spends $400 million annually on comics, graphic novels, toys and other pop culture collectibles. “But the degree to which they influence movies, television, gaming, music, fashion, even food, is immeasurable,” noted Rotterdam.
Citing the lack of success many brands and companies have had in the
past trying to engage with this critical demographic – often resulting
in negative reaction from the very consumers they were seeking to
connect with – Catto stated “Bonfire Agency will provide strategic and
executional marketing services, helping brands and companies engage with
this audience in relevant ways and in an authentic voice. Not only does
Bonfire Agency intimately understand this demographic, but we also have
a track record of success beyond its borders, having developed
marketing strategies and initiatives for classic brands ranging from
Oreo to Miller Lite.”
Named for the burning passion shared by members of this demo, Bonfire
Agency is also developing an integrated ad network among independent
comics publishers, a network of comic shops and pop culture specialty
stores in key markets that will participate in brand sponsored
promotions and events, and a core consumer research panel to serve the
interests of brands, publishers, organizers and advocates.
Rotterdam and Catto, fellow alumni of Cornell University, have crossed
paths before, most recently at Eastwest Marketing Group, where Rotterdam
was Chief Creative Officer and Catto was VP-Account Director. Eastwest
has taken an equity stake in the new agency, furnishing offices and
administrative support, as well as a deep bench of award-winning
creative, account, production, web development and social media
Rotterdam is known as a creative brand strategist. During his tenure at
DC Comics, Rotterdam led the development and execution of marketing
strategies for one of the crown jewels of pop culture, helping to
implement the company’s first digital communications strategy, securing
DC’s position as the number one publisher of graphic novels and
overhauling DC’s advertising sales and custom solutions department.
Prior to his partnership in Eastwest, he founded and led Griffin Bacal
Promotions, where he created the first iteration of Hasbro’s Family Game
Night, an initiative that continues to this day to bring families
together. Early in his career, he established the West Coast office and
entertainment marketing practice for The Guild Group and served as vice
president and creative director at the promotional division of Saatchi
& Saatchi. He resides in New York City with his wife and two
children. His toy and comic book collection resides in a storage
facility in New Jersey.
Catto calls himself a self-styled “retropreneur” and is always on the
hunt to resurrect once forgotten brands and introduce them to
contemporary audiences. Most recently, Catto and a partner engineered
the rebirth of the first superhero action figure, Caption Action, via
comics, collectibles and a national toy line launching in the fall of
2011 at major retailers including Toys R Us. At Reed Exhibition, Catto
was also instrumental in developing and marketing the New York Comic
Con. In addition to Eastwest, Catto has worked at advertising and
promotion firms such as Ogilvy’s 141 Worldwide, CSC Weston Group and Do
Good Marketing, as well as in brand management at classic companies such
as Unilever and Nabisco. He also served as a vice president of
marketing at Bigstar Entertainment. Catto resides in Ridgewood, N.J.
with his wife and four children.
The new agency will launch with several clients, including Bonomo
Turkish Taffy, a classic candy brand being resurrected and relaunched
after 25 years; the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; Reed Exhibition’s
ReedPop group; and several projects for Diamond Comic Distributors.
Bonfire will work with clients in the automotive, snack, beverage, HBA,
fashion, entertainment and technology sectors.
Bonfire Agency is located at 401 Fifth Avenue, 4th Floor, New York,
N.Y., 10016 in the offices of Eastwest Marketing Group, and, through its
alignment with Eastwest, will also have offices in Chicago and Los
Angeles. For more information, call 917.595.4106 or visit