Brand Advocacy and my Adventures in Toy Making.
During my years at Moz, I had the amazing opportunity to create a lot of crazy and fun projects ranging from a full-size mascot, bobbleheads, vinyl toys, buttons and an insane amount of graphic t-shirts. The list goes on, but the Roger vinyl figures were one of my favorites.
2013 was the year of the vinyl Roger. At least it was for me... and Holy moly- this was a learning experience. The project actually began in 2011 when, at the time, Seomoz was going through a rebrand and we needed a branding element that would assist us in carrying over our fan base to the new brand.
When I was promoted to Art Director, this was one of my primary responsibilities. Our mascot Roger already had a strong following and was recognizable among our existing fan base. With a few design upgrades to the original, we started playing around with the idea of making a toy.
The first few iterations were hand made by me.
I sculpted the figure out of clay and made myself a few molds so I could make PVC copies. This, of course was not a scalable solution. But maybe I will write a little tutorial on how it was done because if nothing else, its pretty fun!
Ok, back to the process. We began the search for a toy manufacturer that could help us create Roger through an injection mold process. We found one company out of LA but just after we were in the final stages the company shut down-and just like that the project was iced. It was a very long and frustrating experience.
About a year later, on a random image search I found our vinyl salvation in the form of happyworker.com. This company was so easy to work with and they got the project done very fast and with few iterations. The clay models I made a year before may have helped a little with proportions. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this company! They will make your vinyl dreams come true.
Our first vinyl figures were such a success that in 2015 we decided to create a second version. With this iteration we had the concept to have Roger take the attendees ( of our annual marketing conference) on an epic and fun adventure “through the jungle of content marketing.” We reiterated this concept in our lofty motion animation at the start of the conference and throughout all of our marketing campaigns prior to the conference. I was tasked with creating a new vinyl that that we could give out to our attendees. In this case we had Roger using a boom box in the intro animation, so it only made sense we should make a Roger bobblehead so he could rock out to his tunes.
Like most of my projects, the concept stage starts with a pad and pencil. I really like to think through how projects like this are going to move and feel in your hand, as well as how it will look on your desk.
The packaging for something like this is a critical part of a memorable brand experience. I like to see people just as excited to get their hands on the packaging as the object inside the box. Moz is a really playful brand, so the look and feel of the packaging reflected that.
I was very happy with how this project turned out but what really made me feel particularly excited was seeing our customers go nuts over the swag. This photo made my day.
After the success of the vinyls I also had the opportunity to dabble in some plushie creation. Our goal for this project was to offer something that was super easy for people to take home. Our Roger fans immediately got busy throwing, hugging and stuffing these little guys into overhead compartments for the trip back from Mozcon.
Roger has been one of the most successful elements of the Moz brand and I am proud to have been a part of that success. People have got tattoos, worn shirts and expressed so much enthusiasm about Roger. His popularity truly blows my mind. Roger- It's was a crazy ride, my old friend.