subcultures  — when people get passionate about specific things (some people in the industry refer to them as “tribes”). The Internet has made this ever more interesting and social, allowing tribes to grow from community based to that of infinite scale across the globe."/>

The Need for Nerding out in Subcultures

Mollie Partesotti

I've always had a bit of a fascination with subcultures—their existence, their connectedness, their evolution.

You know, subcultures — when people get passionate about specific things (some people in the industry refer to them as “tribes”). The Internet has made this ever more interesting and social, allowing tribes to grow from community based to that of infinite scale across the globe.

We all belong to several, whether you acknowledge it or not — it's part of that Maslow’s thing that all humans experience. For example, off the top of my head, I’d say I’m part of the following tribes: Southern Northerners, redhead/gingers, and ad industry people. Some I rarely socially acknowledge, others I’m pretty involved/connected either physically or digitally.

We employ the study subcultures and tribes as a critical tool in our strategic/plannery toolboxes, as we continue to better connect and understand people and brands.

One of the subcultures I find super fascinating is the designer toy world. It’s nothing I’m really employed with, but it’s a world that I respect and greatly intrigues me. For example, meet-ups and expos such as CES and Comic Con are a designer-toy junkie's dream. And these things are only getting bigger.

NYC’s Comic Con, which happened this month, is dubbed “the biggest annual cultural event on the East Coast.” It’s an event that has grown boundlessly (attendance now over 150K) since its debut in 2006, catching up to its West Coast version (Boston hosts a smaller gathering too). Check out this video from Mimobot’s Jess Smiley, as she explores NYC Comic Con 2012:

As we continue to create and forge ahead creating communications and experiences that are relevant to people, we obviously must stay connected with these tribes and enjoy the fruits of their intrigue — may they be designer toys, motorcycles, or war reenactments. They provide real context to people’s true interests — not the ones we try to sometimes replicate or fabricate.

1968

In 1968, Jay Hill, Alan Holliday, Jack Connors and Steve Cosmopulos founded an agency in Boston based on the principle that creativity could drive business. Forty five years later, we're still operating on that very same premise, albeit with a few more people. Today, there are more than 900 of us who work at Hill Holliday. Together, we are the 14th largest ad agency in the United States. It's very nice to meet you.