Looking to combine marketing expertise with a real passion for comics and pop culture properties of all kinds, two marketing and sales veterans have launched the Bonfire Agency, a full service marketing and promotional firm focused on the pop culture sector. Cofounded by Steve Rotterdam, former sr. v-p marketing and sales at DC Comics; and longtime marketing professional and “retropreneur” Ed Catto, Bonfire Agency will be based in Manhattan, operating out of offices at Eastwest Marketing Agency on Fifth Avenue.
The new marketing firm is founded by principals who also happen to be pop culture fans and collectors, and they are launching at a time when all manner of advertisers and brands are looking to associate their products with pop culture properties like comics. Catto said the Agency’s mission is to “help brands navigate geek infested waters and communicate and establish a dialogue with passionate fans in an authentic way. If you’re a brand trying to reach a market you need to do it in the right way,” Catto said. “Pop culture fans are hyper-connected but if you do a campaign badly they will reject you and ridicule you. If they like you, they’ll tell everyone they know.”
Catto said the Bonfire Agency expects to launch an advertising network (print, online and digital featuring email and social media promotions) by the spring, alongside a network of 350 rotating “hyper” connected fans (and more casual pop consumers) willing to provide market research on comics and pop culture product; and a network of “compensated” top tier comics retailers in major markets to introduce and display new properties and materials from agency clients. “We’re here to provide our clients with genuine access to the core fan market, the best sales force any brand could have,” Rotterdam said. Initial clients for the Bonfire Agency include ReedPop (working with its new C2E2 show and New York Comic-con), the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Bonomo Turkish Taffy and Diamond Comics Distributors and its Free Comic Day national event.
Rotterdam has more than 30 years experience in concept development, strategic planning and program implementation and worked to help develop DC’s initial digital strategy; leverage its distribution switch to Random House Publisher Services and crafted DC’s "After Watchmen, What's Next?" campaign to highlight DC Comics’ rich graphic novel backlist. Before joining DC Comics in 2007, he was a partner and chief creative officer at Eastwest marketing group. Catto has more than 20 years working in marketing and brands, working with Reed Expo and at Ogilvy’s 141 Worldwide, EastWest Creative as well as developing programming for such clients as Kraft/Nabisco, Warner Bros. Home Video and Time Warner’s DC Comics. He is also a self-declared “retropreneur” looking to revive classic pop culture properties like Captain Action, a 1960s silver age superhero he has relaunched in print, collectibles and through a new toy line set to launch in 2011 at Toys R Us.
“Brands are badges,” Rotterdam said. “ We’re looking to elevate this sector of the landscape. Don’t take the comics and geek market for granted.”