Maker Studio: co-creating with Gen Z

Newsroom 18/08/2023 | 16:24

Romanian agency Minio Studio has launched Maker Studio, a new agency specializing in creating campaigns for and with Gen Z. Maker Studio also implements a different working model, with a fresh and very relevant approach for the consumer. BR sat down with CEO Ioana Mucenic to get more insight into this new endeavor.

By Romanita Oprea


What was the deciding factor in launching Maker Studio?

I’ve been in advertising for almost 20 years now, and have created hundreds of campaigns all across Europe. And after all this work and time invested, I am now hearing more and more people saying they dislike advertising—with various studies showing that more than 60 percent of people distrust it. New Yorker wrote an article called The Advertising Industry Has a Problem: People Hate Ads.” I am seeing my industry and my work becoming more irrelevant by the day. Meanwhile, we are seeing the growth of an exciting new phenomenon: the creator economy. The content being created by young makers is fresh, fun, free, personal, exhilarating, and more convincing than most of today’s ads. That’s why I decided to change the paradigm, rewrite the way we create ads, and build a completely new process.

Where did the inspiration come from?

I asked myself why content is so fun and thrilling and captivating, while ads are not, even if they are beautifully crafted by brilliant people. I found that the difference was in the working process. Advertising is a very institutionalised process, with lots of steps, procedures, and so many stakeholders involved. It’s a very iterative process, where we try to polish every single aspect and end up with rather sterile executions. Meanwhile, content creation is personal, free, authentic, and vulnerable, so it makes way more sense for people to connect with content than with traditional ads.

Starting from that, I wanted to redesign the process of creating ads, to involve the consumer more. Creativity is not owned by art & copy; we are all creatives, including our consumers, so I decided to integrate them into the ad-making processnot just at the beginning, but at every step of the way.

What Maker Studio does is co-create with young consumers. We have no creative teamsjust regular young people who pitch ideas on our briefs (and getting paid for it, of course). All our campaign ideas are based on proposals from Gen Z makers, many of whom are not part of this industry at all

What are your business goals for the first year?

Our target is to create at least 10 campaigns in the first year, using Maker Studio’s unique methodology. We now have a collective of 100 makers and we plan to get up to 500 consumers actively engaged in our campaigns. 

Why Gen Z? What will you offer differently than the competition?

Maker Studio is a new breed of agency that co-creates with Gen Z. We have reimagined all the steps of the classic ad-making process. Our young Gen Z consumers come up with the ideaswe usually get a minimum of 20 per brief. Their ideas are then sent to voters (other Gen Z representatives) who select the best ones. A team of 4 curators with different expertise backgrounds evaluate the top ideas and see how well they fit the brief and the brand, propose adjustments, and select the final ideas. These are then developed together with the content creators, who come up with solutions as to how to maximise that idea for better impact. Only at this point do we propose the solution to the client—they come in very late in the process. After the client’s initial approval, we create a demo video that is further tested using biometric analysis to evaluate its emotional impact. And after all this, the campaign goes live. It may seem like a long process, but it all happens quite quickly, and way faster than the workflow of a regular agency. The benefits? The campaigns are highly relevant, creative, more natural, better fit for the brand, more appreciated by consumersas proven by data.

How different, in your opinion, are people in Gen Z from Millennials or Gen Xers

Every generation is different from the one before it. But with Gen Z, we’re seeing something unique in terms of the rise of content: this is their language. They produce content like nobody has before as a way of expressing themselves, especially on TikTok. They crave authenticity and traditional advertising is anything but that

You say that you intend to change the way you do advertising. What does that mean exactly?

As mentioned previously, we believe that the ad-making process is absolute. It does not reflect the speed and dynamic of today’s world. It is too iterative, with too many layers and too many people involved that all want to do everything perfectly. Our consumers, especially the young ones, are not looking for perfection, but for authenticity. The advertising industry is now making ads for people who do not want them. To change the outcome, we need to completely change the process by:

Engaging Gen Z consumers in the processthey are the ones proposing ideas; we have no copywriters or art directors.
Getting the client involved late in the process, after we have the ideas voted on, curated, and tested. The client should give minimal feedback. 
Testing using biometric tech, which again goes back to the consumer, as we are able to see their emotional feedback to our communication. 

How will the co-creation process work? Is your team made up of Gen Zs?

We work with more than 100 young people who are not engaged in advertising full-time. They are not junior employees. They are just talented young people aged 18 to 26 who respond to our briefs. We send them simplified briefs and they reply with their ideas. So, they are all freelancers, if you like—but not advertising professionals. They are just people who want to contribute their ideas. 

For each brief, we select the best Makers and they get paid for their ideas. The idea that gets selected for implementation gets a significant bonus. 

Makers, as we call them, can spend 10 minutes or 10 hours on our brief—it’s up to them. We do not pay for their time, but for their ideas.

Please tell us more about the biometric tools (Eye Tracking & Facial Decoding) and how you’reusing them in your campaigns.

We have been using biometric technology for a couple of years now, so we are quite familiar with it. Before the ad/video is released, we test it using these two tools. This allows us to see:

What are consumers paying the most attention to?
What are the most engaging moments?
How funny is it? How emotional? Does it make people laugh? Is it engaging? 
Do they notice the product?
Can they remember the product and the key messages?

After we evaluate these, we may decide to change the execution, adapt the video, edit differently or even reshoot in order to improve the final impact of the video and maximise media investment.

How have Gen Zs changed the workspace and why?

This methodology works great for commercial campaigns, but also for employer branding projects. It’s more and more difficult to recruit young people into our teams—whether in an office or a factory. Engaging young people in the process is designed to make the results more human, more emotional, and more relevant. 

How has Minio Studio been working since the new launch? Will some processes change there too?

At this point, Minio Studio and Maker Studio are sharing resources. Some of our Minio colleagues have double roles, working at Maker as well. However, this will change as Maker develops more and more projects. We estimate that the teams will be completely separated within a year. Minio Studio will continue its work, focusing on strategic campaigns and international projects. And it will certainly use Maker services in some projects. 

Will Maker Studio also work for regional campaigns, like Minio does?

We hope so, and we have started our first discussion in this direction. Minio is currently working for global clients, with our work being seen in more than 30 countries all around the world. Some of Minio’s clients have also shown interest in Maker’s unique approach and are curious to try it. So, I do believe that Maker will bring a revolution in advertising and that we will expand beyond Romania’s borders.

Maker Studio means co-creating with the youngest generation, changing all the processes of ad-making, involving the client late in the process, and testing executions to evaluate emotional engagement. It’s very much a human-centric process, truly and fullyand it’s a methodology we have created from scratch.

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