There are few more memorable moments in sports and entertainment than when a record is set. No matter how big or small, shattering a milestone is the perfect measurement tool for success, and there remains no yardstick bigger for records than to make or break The Guinness Book of World Records. The validation is well, invaluable, and even in today’s get it done now and keep up with the crowd world, Guinness still has weight. The job of helping keep the brand fresh, current and relevant in an emerging marketplace, especially in North America, is now partially the responsibility of new Vice President of Marketing. Americas, Keith Green. A Temple grad, Green started his position recently after successful Synergy Events, Nazareth Raceway, Richmond Raceway and The Philadelphia 76ers.
We asked Green about his record measuring job, what makes a good stunt, and how the company stays on the radar for millions of consumers around the world.
What makes a good stunt these days?
We actually call them record attempts rather than stunts, out of respect for the training, effort, and dedication people put into their attempt. Sports, as you can imagine, is always a favorite category in the book because it is about competition, achievement and being the best. So we are always on the lookout for amazing sport records that are also visually compelling and something people of all ages will want to share.
A few recent examples include Laso Schaller’s 192-foot cliff jump, Paralympian Matt Stutzman’s longest distance to hit a target with bow and arrow (Matt has been armless since birth), Otto the skateboarding dog successfully navigating his way through a tunnel of 30 human legs last month and Thunder Law of the Harlem Globetrotters amazing array of basketball records, including a successful 112 foot basketball shot.
How important is social media in telling the company story today?
It’s extremely important because we reach a different audience online (18-34, 75% male on Facebook and YouTube) compared to the family customers of our books. It is also critical because our B2B clients want to share their record-breaking via social media with their followers and respective target audiences.
We’re closing in on 10 million Facebook followers and should achieve 1 million YouTube subscribers next year, so these and other social channels also allow us to stay constantly connected with our community.
How does your background in the NBA, NASCAR and in big events help you in this new role?
It’s helped in many ways. First, record-breaking is innately part of sports- who went the fastest, scored the most points or in the fun case of the Harlem Globetrotters, made the longest shot backwards blindfolded? Those feats, records and often the numbers behind them are part of what attracts and holds our interest as sports fans.
Off the field, track or court, it was seeing or being involved with brands that put together the most creative campaigns or events surrounding their involvement with teams, leagues, athletes or properties. Our clients on the b-to-b side are constantly looking to us for creative ideas to utilize record breaking as part of their events or campaigns, and it’s up to us to help deliver fresh concepts. Finally, from the event side, gaining an understanding of what it takes to put on a well-executed event (while actually working with Guinness World Records on quite a few occasions) was also extremely helpful.
What does the company do to stay fresh and relevant with such a mature brand?
Setting records has been around a long time, and we’re fortunate to have become established as the world’s authority on recording humanity’s incredibly, unbelievably amazing accomplishments.
That said, staying fresh in our customers’ minds means being where they are, be it online and on their phones, in schools, on TV or in malls and festivals as part of our Live! concept. Our strategy is to engage people either by sharing our incredible stories or engaging them directly with record-breaking—letting them attempt records and sharing their results with us. And increasingly, companies, agencies, non-profits, and schools are coming to us, asking for record ideas, for one of our Adjudicators to be present at their attempts, and for use of our logo afterward, as proof of their accomplishment.
Do people still buy the book or is it more digital now?
People definitely still buy the book! We want kids to read and despite the digital revolution, the book accounts for 70% of our company’s business. This week it is #1 in the UK and Canada and #4 in the US, so it’s just as popular and relevant to families and kids as it ever was. But the growth of our social channels and the number of online record applications we receive (almost 1,000, weekly) shows the importance of the brand’s presence on digital platforms. It’s extremely important to provide digital editions, and we’ve experimented with apps and augmented reality in the past to try and bridge that gap between traditional and digital.
How many records are usually set in a year?
Roughly a few thousand records are set or broken every year. We have more than 40,000 records in our database, 12,000 records on our website and approximately 4,000 records can fit in our book each year.
What’s the biggest misconception with the brand?
That we are just a book. Between our growing digital presence and the rise of record-breaking attempts and accomplishments by our corporate, non-profit and educational clients, we’re about much more than just the book. For example, there is a real emotional connection to our brand- seeing people’s reaction when they break a record, how they feel when that happens and the official recognition of that achievement.
From a sports business perspective who has used a record to grow exposure recently and how?
Here are three great, engaging examples from 2015:
Visa Checkout teamed up with Odell Beckham Jr and Drew Brees to set the record for one handed football catches
We have worked with the Los Angeles Angels for six straight years to help them engage their fans through the power of record breaking:
Longest Water Ski jump, where Guinness World Records was an integral part of the World of X Games.
How will you gage success in 2016?
Strategically, our focus is to tell our stories to more people, and engage more people to attempt records. And we think that working with organizations and industries where record-breaking is- or can be- a part of what they do is a natural next step. Growth in Latin America is also a huge opportunity and extremely important to us.
What’s the biggest challenge the brand faces and how is it being addressed?
Protect and promote- meaning we have to protect our IP from copycat companies and promote the fact that beyond publishing we are the arbiter of records by providing unique and engaging content and stories to make us relevant with audiences round the globe.