July 12, 2023

7 Questions with… Max Bass, Director of Emerging Connections

Director of Emerging Connections, Max Bass, answers 7 questions with GALE about his role, valuable past experiences, how to integrate creators into marketing campaigns, top social trends, leveraging gaming platforms and more.


A Business Agency

Director of Emerging Connections, Max Bass, answers 7 questions with GALE about his role, valuable past experiences, how to integrate creators into marketing campaigns, top social trends, leveraging gaming platforms and more.

1. What brought you to GALE? Describe your role.

I was looking for a role where I could apply my experience in marketing for an esports organization and many years leading accounts at another agency. I knew my experiences would make me a strategic ally to client account, creative, and media teams.

I accepted a role as GALE’s Director of Influencer Marketing and Content Partnerships and was particularly excited to work with content partners in the gaming space. Today, as Director of Emerging Connections, I build gaming programs and help clients navigate and understand new digital platforms. I work with many of GALE’s integrated teams and our client partners to better understand audience behavior and develop ideas to connect with them.

2. What makes the work you do at GALE different from previous agencies?          

At GALE, I’m more of a subject matter expert, collaborating with various cross-functional teams, whereas previously I was solely on the creative team, and then the account team. Those experiences have enabled me to better collaborate and empathize with cross-functional teams here at GALE.

3. What is your approach to integrating creators into marketing campaigns for clients?

Creators can be powerful marketing partners and I believe in cultivating long-term and deeply integrated partnerships with them.

Brands have been paying for posts for 15 years, and the opportunity to give creators a seat at the creative table is one way to evolve the relationship. On some recent projects, we’ve shared insights and co-developed ideas with great success for our clients and our teams. This collaborative approach is integral to working effectively with creator talent.

4. What is a top trend in social media that you believe brands should be paying attention to?          

Brands are on social media to humanize themselves and they can learn from how real humans are using platforms. Two things brands should not only pay attention to, but put into practice, are: 1) repost old content and 2) let go of being perfectionists. The goal is to create more content that leads to more insights. Creators post 2-3 times per day on TikTok, while many brands only get content up 3x per week.

Quality standards and the pressure to put out social content that feels “on-brand” hold companies back from experimenting and increasing their volume of content. However, I think it pays off for brands to feel contextual to non-branded content on platforms. For example, low-fi is trending right now, and I think brands can loosen content quality standards without losing effectiveness if the work is executed with intention.

In terms of the content they show you, many platforms’ newsfeed algorithms prioritize engagement metrics over your followers. That said, brands should be less concerned about what a profile looks like, or what followers expect, and more concerned with producing a strong volume of content and figuring out what sticks.

5. What does the rise of popularity in gaming mean for brands marketing to Gen Z and Gen Alpha?

Brands targeting Gen Z and Gen Alpha gamers need to figure out how to immerse them and make a true connection through media and content in games. Authenticity is talked about a lot, but value should be a bigger focus. How are you meeting gamers where they are, exciting them, and delivering a memorable experience? This should come in the form of entertainment, information, rewards, or something unexpected.

Gaming is not an advertising platform, it’s a multi-channel immersive experience; however, advertising can still surprise and delight in that environment or contribute to the fun.

Brands should also aim to be always-on with organic and paid content in gaming, whether it's through media, partnerships, owned content, activations, or sponsorships. Brands that are serious about marketing to Gen Alpha are thinking this way and there’s already plenty of competition. The other three things brands should do when building a gaming strategy are: co-create with partners, immerse the brand across multiple touchpoints, and be consistent with your efforts.

6. Tell us about MilkPEP’s recent foray into gaming.

At the end of June 2023, MilkPEP was at VidCon to launch our Fortnite game, Zany Ziplines, a concept requested by Fortnite players, which we built in response. The game is a demonstration of Milk’s purpose in gaming: to make games with, and for, gamers. To complement this, we launched a Discord server where gamers can share ideas for new games on platforms that allow for custom experiences and integrations like Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite.

We’re leading with value by building a game that’s fun to play and naturally integrating Milk messaging into the experience. To me, this is reflective of how modern content marketing should be: playable, watchable, clickable, and connected to your brand message.

Milk’s presence at VidCon was critical to the game launch and a great success. We gave fans an opportunity to play our game while driving them to Discord in one cohesive experience, which resulted in our booth being full of young gamers from event start to finish, more than 1,200 sign ups to our Discord channel, and nearly 25,000 gameplays in just 5 days.  

Showing up and creating activations provides an opportunity to stand out to gamers because so much of the experience is on-screen. Our TwitchCon sponsorship last year –where we also launched an experiential activation– was similarly well-received, but now we’ve expanded to always-on and multi-channel which is the goal.

7. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your marketing career?

I began my career as a social media community manager and from day one it was mandatory to understand my audience and despite the increase in platforms and more complex data, I still think audience insights and trends are vital to our work. I’m somewhat of a method marketer, which means I immerse myself in brands I work with to understand the customer experience. This translates to drinking chocolate milk, eating Bomb Pops, and playing Fortnite (things could be worse). But in all seriousness, connecting and understanding the audience you’re marketing to is essential– you don’t need to drink the audience Kool Aid like I do, but you should understand and find a way to relate to your target consumers.