BrandVerge 5 for 5 - DoStuff Spotlight

For this edition of the BrandVerge 5 for 5, we caught up with Ross Bennett (Director of Business Development) from DoStuff.  

DoStuff is an experience platform network comprised of 21 cities, powering locally-curated event guides to help answer the question: “What am I going to do tonight?"

Similar to BrandVerge, Ross (and DoStuff) like to shake things up by operating "against the grain". Users rely on them to provide the best stuff to DO in their city and Ross and team take a unique and authentic approach in providing advertisers the opportunity to get involved with that mission. 

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Industry Influencer Ross Bennett, Director of Business Development for DoStuff

Please tell us about DoStuff

DoStuff is an experience platform network comprised of 21 cities powering locally-curated event guides. We’re the experts on how to have the best time of your life tonight, and every night. Users rely on us to provide the best stuff to DO in their city, packed with loads of ways to stay ahead of local entertainment news. We've created a localized community in each of our hubs, consisting of local content creators, and scene experts.

How do you reach people?

We curate guides and help people find events through multiple channels: our website, daily emails sent to local subscribers, and social conversations. We work with brands by serving as the conduit that brings them into our culture and scenes in tasteful and meaningful ways.

What makes DoStuff unique in today's marketplace?

There are plenty of publishers that develop cool stuff to look at, but our audience comes to us with a purpose: to find something they can spend money doing -  a way to invest the most valuable time they have - with their friends!  

For other publishers, driving people to events is secondary. But for us, it’s the core of what we do. Helping people take advantage of their city, stay ahead of the local culture curve - and encouraging them to get out there and actually do stuff outside of the home and workplace is fun for us and what makes us unique. Overall, DoStuff helps to drive the entertainment economy forward in markets across the US. Brand and businesses alike want to be a part of that. It’s exciting.

As branded content investment continues to rise, how does DoStuff stay relevant to break through all the clutter? 

Our approach is local. We are local curators and our scale is multi-local vs broad national – so it’s a different angle. We have the ability to take a national tentpole strategy and localize it in a way that is authentic to the people in the market they are in.

A lot of people go to different publishers to read (branded) content, and then move on. But our stuff is action-oriented. Our approach to branded content and all content is making sure it’s relevant to people in their space.

We accomplish that by investing in the markets we’re in, and actually operating in each of them with a team on the ground. We are not trying to publish local information from a national hub somewhere else outside of the local community.

When we sell something and develop a partnership with a client, we rely on our teams in these cities so that what we put forward to consumers is quality.

What is the most successful branded content program you’ve worked on (and why was it so successful)?

Last winter, we developed a partnership with Abercrombie and Fitch via their agency. They’ve had some bad PR over the years and their image was waning. They needed a rebrand. So near the relaunch of their new brand image, we helped them extend that national identity and made it culturally relevant in a bunch of local markets.

Their new platform and tentpole was all about exploration, getting out there, and taking advantage of the now. “This is the time.”  We were a great partner for bringing their platform to life, promoting “this is the time” with city guides in 7 core markets.

Each “on the down-low” guide uncovered hidden gems throughout the city, highlighting what’s special about cool places and what can you do there. We essentially provided an agenda for consumers to engage with their city and Abercrombie and Fitch in each market.

Each guide was unique to that market, including branded videos and photos in line with their branding. We developed partnerships with many of the places we highlighted in the guides and set up unique hookups at select locations that brought an experiential angle into the content. For example, when we recommended people go and check out a cool bar through, they could use a secret password and get a hookup.. something like a locally designed enamel pin, an off-menu (free) cocktail… something out of the ordinary.  This experiential angle was a cool way to bring guides to life and get people to go out to these places… It really resonated perfectly with the “This is the Time” calling.

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself when you started in media? 

I should not have tried to follow and listen to what I thought were the norms and standards in media (sales). I wish I realized that to get something done and do something interesting, you need to do it the way you feel is the right way vs following the rules that other publishers, agencies, brands, and media have a tendency to follow. This goes to the way people evaluate success and ROI. In media, we follow those KPIs which sometimes limit our ability to really make something impactful and cool, which is a bummer. I would tell myself to try to be more of an individual, to fight for what I know is going to make a difference, and be happy about my ideas being different than the ‘standard’ response to an RFP.

Lynn Browne