Q+A: Rob Baiocco of The BAM Connection
A wonderful addition to the world of marketing, The BAM Connection, also known as The Baiocco and Maldari Connection, is a branding and advertising agency located in the heart of DUMBO. Their work has been featured on USA Today, Good Morning America, and CNN, among other major media. We sat down with chief creative officer, Rob Baiocco, to learn more.
How did you end up in branding/advertising?
That goes all the way back to when I was a little kid. My mother said I watched commercials more than I watched TV shows. Later, I went to college and played baseball. I was a pitcher and the funny part is I used to pitch baseball and now I pitch advertising so I am still pitching. My dream was to be in the Yankees and my backup was advertising so here I am in advertising. I grew up in Buffalo and started doing advertising after I got out of college. Then I moved to Spain and when I moved back I started doing advertising as a copywriter. From there, I worked in Buffalo for about 7 years and I thought to myself that I need to move to New York. After I moved, I spent 20 years at Grey. Now it's been 2.5 years now since we opened our own agency here in DUMBO.
Why did you create your own agency?
Well, think about giant conglomerates merging even though they used to be big independent companies. Now, your company is just another company that somebody owns and wants money from. At these places, you can't really get any answers and it becomes that kind of nightmare. But as you get a little older in the business, you have more of a target on your back because you now make a lot of money. So, while working there, people were always breathing down my neck. But at that point, Maureen was my partner at Grey and it just came together nicely to do our own thing. Now, we are a small entrepreneurial company which is rejuvenating for us especially because we come from a big corporate global company. This is a much better place for us to rejuvenate our careers in a much more entrepreneurial and groovy space like DUMBO.
This reminds me, I read that your approach is based on the "one shot answer." Can you explain what you mean by that?
We sat in so many marketing meetings over many years. Perhaps 20 plus years in meetings. People like P&G, GSK and all these big brands have their own way of doing branding and marketing. They all have core essence and other important things for marketing which is great but it also gets very convoluted. You end up spending half your meeting thinking whether the meeting is about the idea statement, architecture or activation idea among other things. By the end of the meeting, you end up with so many different semantics that you start going crazy. So, we said based on our extensive experience, it should all start with one short compelling phrase that nails the brand meeting and connects everything you do. That's how we got to the one shot answer. All the other stuff is great but at some point, you have to be able to distill it all down like a reduction of a sauce. Get all the flavor into one little phrase rather than a 45 page document to read through. It's a really hard job to get to the one shot answer but it's worth it.
Can you tell me a little bit about the acronym project for DUMBO?
So while we were working on our website, we were looking for a fun little name for our social media page for The BAM Connection and one guy in the office said "don't underestimate my Brooklyn opinion." That was really funny and great so I thought forget the website, let's make another project out of that instead. Whenever I talk to people, I would always ask what DUMBO stands for and nobody knew. Only a handful of people actually knew. So, I thought that it could be a cool idea to do a whole promotion out of the acronym. We started making posters and around the time of the holiday party, we thought it would be fun to make an event that everyone can participate in. That's when we had a whole bunch of people send in new acronyms before the party. We also had a tweet wall and gave away 5 DUMBO shirts that we had made. Everyone at the party came up with some really fun words for the acronym project. We finally hung some of the acronyms in the office. We are also planning on hanging them in Superfine too. Through this, we are soliciting other businesses to participate in the acronym project.
Why settle your office in DUMBO?
When we decided to open the agency, we were first thinking about where to move. There was space on Park Avenue South and down the street from Grey like all the other agencies but we felt like we needed a clean slate. We needed something different and unique so we thought what about Williamsburg but I'm not a hipster and I am too old to be one. But my partner who is from Brooklyn said what about DUMBO? I didn't know this place too well so I came up here and I fell in love with it. I thought this is definitely awesome so right away we were big DUMBO fans. I actually live on the Upper West Side so it's fairly a long but easy commute. A lot of the times I even see ads in the Upper West Side where they promote 51 Jay street so it's cool to think the Upper West Side people find DUMBO to be a cool place.
Finally, what are your favorite spots in DUMBO?
Definitely Superfine because that's where I end up hanging out often. I also go to Archway and Peas and Pickles a lot. They have good food and it's right around the corner.