Filter Creative Group Goes Mainstream

LOS ANGELES Filter Creative Group has crafted successful alternative marketing plans for music, movies and clothing for nearly three years, but this week marks its first foray into more conventional advertising at its new Web site,

“We’ve kind of been everyone’s little secret,” said Alan Miller, founder and CEO of independent FCG. “Now, our goal is to grow this thing.”

Projects by the Los Angeles agency have included alternative promotions for high-profile clients such as Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Landmark Theaters, Atari and T-Mobile’s Sidekick.

FCG relies on relationships “with about 500 specialty retail stores,” Miller said, to leverage its clients’ appeal. By partnering with demo-accessible brands like Ben Sherman, Puma and Levi’s, FCG can offer effective online, print and lifestyle strategies targeting “hip, urban trendsetters” in their twenties and early thirties, he said.

“Consumers trust us, and that’s the most important thing,” Miller said. FCG not only knows its consumer group, he explained, but in many cases, the firm is its consumer group—and that demographic doesn’t have any problem with precisely aimed marketing. “It just has to be done with respect,” he said. “You cannot lie. We turn down a lot of work because of our consumer base.”

For last month’s The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou movie campaign, Miller and FCG principal Alan Sartirana teamed with retailers including Guitar Center and Quiksilver to design “Intern” T-shirts inspired by those worn by the film’s ragtag crew of oceanographers-in-training. The shirts were then distributed at popular nightclubs across the country. Additionally, FCG arranged a movie-angled sweepstakes for retail partner Urban Outfitters, including The Life Aquatic-themed point-of-purchase materials encouraging shoppers to vie for a vacation in Greece.

These components are intended to complement each client’s more traditional advertising, Miller said.

Miller and Sartirana, both former record-label employees, originally teamed to publish Filter magazine, since 2001, a Los Angeles-based glossy intended to “turn people on to artistically credible music,” Miller said. Each issue—editorial content clearly distinct from marketing, he stressed—features a CD sampler of songs and related advertising meant to appeal to the forward-looking consumers FCG clients aspire to reach.

They have also created a series of free, mini-lifestyle magazines, currently sponsored by Virgin Megastores. An online component allows users to click-through to official product Web sites for most of the featured editorial topics and ads. According to FCG, the mini site is one of the first to offer users this all-encompassing ability to take immediate action—and make immediate purchases.

Miller expects there to be plenty more “first times” in FCG’s near future. “Never rest on what we’ve done before,” he said. “That’s our concept.”

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