Stockholm was the host for the second edition of ”SPACE by”, a concept that was started by the creative collective Trans94 ...

Marketing lessons from a creative collective 

Stockholm was the host for the second edition of ”SPACE by”, a concept that was started by the creative collective Trans94 in collaboration with different actors – this time it was Adidas. The aim? To create an arena for future creators, sharing resources and knowledge with each other.

We’ll soon discuss takeaways from the event and chat with the founder of the project, but first some background.

Ten years ago, entrepreneur Babak Azarmi started the management and independent record company RMH. He wanted to change society, but was unsure how. Music seemed like a good starting point. During the first years, he gathered a small group of artists, tried it out, failed, tried again, and built a moving platform.

Today, RMH has become the creative collective Trans94. Babak is listed as one of Sweden’s most influential cultural personalities, while the artists belong to some of the country’s most prominent figures in their respective genre.
Examples of artists include Silvana Imam (also on the power list), Cherrie and Erik Lundin.

Just after the summer, they have released movies, published their own book, and arranged exhibitions and carried out extensive workshops. They have become influencers for some of the world’s top brands that want to work with them. Babak is also doing what he’s dreamed of since the beginning – changing social structures, moving power, and including more people.

So, what have they done right, what did we learn in Stockholm? Babak and Trans94 have managed among other things to accomplish what most companies struggle with – the art of marketing to the hearts of the younger generation. Generation Y and Z, “third culture kids” if you prefer. From all over the Nordics.

People, not companies

In the last survey conducted by Kantar TNS, 80% of the participants in the “young adult” category say that brands should present themselves as individuals rather than as a company. They don’t like to be talked at, they want to participate in the dialogue. They want transparent communication, credible concepts and branded clean sheets. To them, the digital and the physical spheres have melted together the most.

SPACE by is a good example that Trans94 has picked up on that.

”If anyone is awake in today’s society, it’s the young people. We usually work based on the question: what would my younger self wanted to have? If we find a good answer to that, we’ll create or execute on this idea. If you’re going to create something that will last and grow, it won’t work if you’re too disconnected to your audience. Well, unless your only goal is to make a fast buck there and then”, says Babak Azarmi.

Honest engagement

On top of engaging the audience through workshops and open events, Trans94 is careful and well-aware of which artists and creators they let in on the journey. Babak’s demand on members in the collective is that they must have a larger message than themselves and that they truly are interested in communicating with their audience.

”Right now, we’ve had a clear strategy from the start. Although many of the artists didn’t know each other from before, the urge to share their experiences and contribute to change has been the common denominator that has united them. Once again – young people of today are concerned about what’s going on, they get involved and use their energy on brands that build identities. It’s a 24/7 job.”

With content marketing, the use of influencers has exploded in recent years. Babak develops influencers from the ground up, he lets them talk about what engages them and then he matches them with the right brand, if it benefits them.

”We only work with brands that want to change something, that want something more than just an artist attached, just to make them look cool. With the help of big brands, we’ve managed to build young artists and creatives by helping them with money, trips and other similar practicalities. We place demands on the companies, which we also believe will help them to work better towards a demanding target group. Even if adolescents might not have the biggest buying power today, they will have it [in the future].”

Babak adds:

”Many [companies] forget to have a dialogue with people, they don’t ask them what they want, lack or need. They only push things on people and try to create a need for their product. I believe that since we’ve got adolescents around us, we’ve gained valuable insights into what they lack and need. We try to be like clay – malleable – since society changes so quickly. Even now, ten years since we started, I still work all day long and google halfway through the night to gain new knowledge.

Want to fill museums with young people

Babak and Trans94’s next project is to make museums in Sweden more accessible. The entrepreneur thinks it’s sad that so many wonderful rooms remain empty during the weekdays and that so many adolescents feel excluded from the cultural arena. Now he wants to change that, too.

”The goal is to change how museums work, we think they should be used by adolescents as a creative workshop, studio, you name it. An open space you can visit to work for yourself or together with others. We recently took part in Fashion Week with our first SPACE. Traditionally speaking, it’s a very exclusive event where only elite people are on the list, and there’s a certain VIP mentality that scares away a lot of young talents. Apart from what we’re already doing, we’ll continue to open places and change society by being innovative.”

6 tips for those who want to reach Generation Y and Z

    • Treat the target audience seriously, communicate and create dialogue.
    • Be personal. Don’t speak at them, meet them where they are.
    • For the digital generation, the physical and digital worlds are one and the same.
    • Ask yourself what you would have wanted, also ask the target group.
    • Have a clear message, be open and honest.
    • Collaborate with others who are going in the same direction.