- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2008

When Martin Codd stepped off of a plane in New York City in the summer of 1986, the recent University of Wales graduate was only going to visit a friend for a couple of weeks. Weeks turned into years as the London native immersed himself in the night-life culture and fell in love with what he called “an incubator of art, fashion and music.” He started out as a bartender and worked his way up to managing concerts and other events at nightclubs.

He tried to create an experience for people in an industry where “you’re only as good as your last event,” he said. This mentality would serve him well, as the 45-year-old now works as the head of Alexandria-based RedPeg Marketing’sproduction department.

Years in the United States haven’t diluted Mr. Codd’s English accent or his love of tea - which co-workers cannot resist commenting on - although his office at RedPeg contains American pop-culture memorabilia from “South Park” and “Star Wars,” immediately cementing his coolness with younger staff members.

RedPeg’s specialty is experiential marketing, which, according to Mr. Codd, is a recent method of marketing that focuses on swaying potential customers by hosting events and introducing their clients’ products or services through nontraditional methods.

“It’s not just about putting together television spots,” he said.

Recently, Mr. Codd was in Talladega, Ala., at the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Sprint Cup race coordinating the Rock Star Hero campaign for the Army National Guard, sponsor of driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. The campaign features a bus outfitted on the inside with simulators encouraging participants to perform National Guard missions. On the outside, the bus is accompanied by a stage complete with Rock Star Hero game stations. The setup also includes branded tents where green-screen technology allows people to put themselves in a rescue mission or a rock concert.

The campaign began in August with stops at state fairs and music festivals. Although these interactive marketing events are more commonplace now, according to Mr. Codd, the strategy of creating an experience to market a product or service was just emerging 10 years ago.

He said that the strategy came about as the Internet and social networking were taking off. Companies recognized that traditional advertising was not serving all of their needs, and experiential marketing emerged. Now, according to Mr. Codd, nearly everyone uses some kind of marketing through events and experiences, unlike the early days of his career.

“We put together programs and events that over time, I think, were groundbreaking,” he said of his work as director of operations at Webster Hall in New York in the early ‘90s. At Webster Hall, he organized events for such companies as Apple Inc. and American Express Co. and hosted album-release parties for such artists as Prince and Mick Jagger.

One of Mr. Codd’s favorite memories of his career occurred at Webster Hall at Mick Jagger’s closed sound check for the “Wandering Spirit” release party. He said that after the sound check was done, Mr. Jagger looked to the people in attendance and asked if they would like to hear anything. He proceeded to take requests for Rolling Stones classics such as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Brown Sugar.”

“Having Mick Jagger perform to you 75 yards away puts chills up anyone’s spine,” Mr. Codd said.

Mr. Codd was at Webster Hall from 1992 until 1998, when he moved to Chicago to work for KBA Marketing Inc., which was spearheading a lot of novel marketing techniques.

While at KBA, Mr. Codd crafted the Twix Mix Tour, a campaign for Twix candy bars that traveled to malls around the country with disk jockey Mix Master Mike, setting up custom deejay booths, teaching the history of mixology and allowing participants to try their hand at mixing.

In 2002, Mr. Codd said he reached the pinnacle of what he could achieve at KBA and returned to Webster Hall, where he remained until 2005. “My heart was in New York,” he admitted.

He remained in New York for a few more years, working for Mirrorball as national event director until 2007, and then at Grow Marketing until his move to RedPeg.

While at Grow, Mr. Codd was a part of the brand launch for Pepsi’s new trademark Tava. It was the first new Pepsi trademark using 100 percent nontraditional advertising methods. He said that the target audience was 35-to-49-year-olds and that the goal was to convince them that a premium soda was not just an occasional drink.

According to Mr. Codd, Grow identified key influences on the target market and had them host events. From yoga classes to gallery showcases, more than 600 events were held across the country, distributing more than 350,000 samples of Tava achieving the marketing goal of getting people to try it, he said.

Tava was also distributed at the offices of companies whose employees were likely to be open to the new drink, including Microsoft Corp. and Live Nation Inc.

Now at RedPeg, Mr. Codd will utilize his experiences to create campaigns that suit the needs of the client and address target markets. He said that as director of production he is involved in all facets of campaigns, including working with the client to gain an understanding of the brand and assembling a team to work on the marketing techniques.

“We really bring a strategic vision to the programs,” he said. Some of the company’s current clients include Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., Geico Corp. and the Texas tourism board, which is promoting tourism through Texas on Tour, an interactive traveling road show stopping at fairs and festivals around the county. Mr. Codd was in Albuquerque recently for the International Balloon Festival as part of the Texas campaign.

RedPeg organizes more than 5,000 events per year, according to Mr. Codd. “At any given moment in time, you’ll find us at the Oklahoma State Fair or the Super Bowl,” he said. “Sometimes it hardly seems like work.”

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