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Meet Robert Ferrari of Bare Tree Media in Downtown Boston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robert Ferrari.

Robert, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Years ago I managed Sanrio Digital, the digital business sector of Sanrio behind Hello Kitty. My group was responsible for engaging Hello Kitty fans within digital platforms around the world. We created online, mobile and console games based on Hello Kitty. We targeted teens and young adults who had an affinity for Hello Kitty. I was amazed by the passion of an older demographic behind the cute little cat that many considered just a kids brand. I became very intrigued with fan-based communities and developed strategies on how to best engage them through digital platforms.

I left Sanrio Digital to start Bare Tree Media to focus on helping a wide variety of brands engage fans through mobile messaging platforms in Asia. We were pioneers in creating branded stickers (aka emojis) for publishing into Asia messaging platforms such as such as LINE, WeChat and Kakao. We saw signs stickers in messaging would be adopted in the US so we set up partnerships with Apple, Facebook and Viber and began lining up hundreds of licensed brands for US opportunities. We quickly became a leading creator and publisher within these platforms as well. At first we worked with character based licensed brands such as Hello Kitty, Garfield, Family Guy, Domo, etc. Our business became the “go-to” company for licensed properties wanting to sell branded mobile stickers to fans within digital platforms around the world.

In 2017 we identified an opportunity to leverage stickers for marketing brands. Think of it, millions of fans sending a branded sticker to friends and family on a voluntary basis. We started discussing marketing opportunities with non-licensed brands and they loved our pitch as an effective marketing tool to reach and engage their fans. Today our clients include DC Comics, Disney, Duracell, Life Is Good, Lionsgate, L’Oréal, Mars, Marvel, New England Patriots, Proctor Gamble, Netflix, and Warner Bros. We offer our clients creative services, publishing, and AdTech for messaging stickers.

It has been an amazing experience and we are so excited to be working with such great brands as our clients, and the reputation we have earned in the mobile marketing sector. We are the best kept secret in Boston. Who would think this small agency and studio in Boston is driving engagement for the world’s biggest film studios and brands. We are very proud and grateful.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
You’ll never find an entrepreneur who hasn’t experienced challenges. It was a bit scary to leave my secure and highly compensated role at Sanrio Digital, to go off on my own and start a new venture. Luckily I was surrounded by my support circle including my wife, my parents, friends and mentors. I decided to fund the company myself instead of taking time to raise capital and be restricted by investors. I had great business education and hands on work experience, so I was prepared. Because it’s my company and my seed money, I operated it professionally and with fiduciary responsibility. Started with a small mixed staff of employees and freelancers, leveraged incubators and free office space. I was also confident in my business development blood flowing through my veins and the creative skills of my team. Brands were keen to learn more and help my new venture out. In year one we were generating revenue and broke even. Ever since, we have generated revenue growth and a profit. Were there months where it was scary, hell ya! There was a while when my staff and freelancers were paid but I wasn’t. We had situations where some publishing deals never paid us and we had to chase them and sometimes write off invoices. Then there were numerous pitches we felt were secure but the PO or insertion orders never came. That’s when I wished we raised outside capital as many startups do to cushion those blows. But when it’s your own company and staff you dig in and every morning believe in yourself, the team and live by the rule of “what can we do today that impacts revenue and future business”. We all live by this rule and it has made us successful. I know some startups that blow through their investors’ funds until it’s too late. Create buss through press but have nothing to show for it. That’s a distorter for both the startup and the investor in my opinion. Perhaps I am old school and wanted to prove we could build a sustainable business on partnerships and revenue.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Bare Tree Media – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a boutique digital agency focused on offering brands engagement through mobile messaging. Our competencies include creative services, digital publishing and AdTech. We are experts at creating messaging stickers within Apple iMessage and Facebook, emoji apps for iTunes and Google Play, Facebook Frames, Facebook AR Camera Effects, and SnapChat Camera Lenses.

I am very proud of my hard working team and the great clients who trust us with their brands. My team is energetic, always positive and committed regardless of approaching opportunities or challenges. Our clients are fantastic. They truly value our relationship and place our quality and deliverables over our small size. It’s refreshing working with clients who not only contribute to our bottom line but also are enjoyable and help create optimism around the office. We have been given the opportunity to work on some great films such as Black Panther, Star Wars Jedi, Justice League and Wonder Woman. As Bostonians we love our sports teams and working with the Patriots has been a thrill. One of Boston’s best known companies is Life Is Good, and they are such a joy to work with and we love helping them spread optimism with everything they do.

We also take pride in providing job opportunities for local students studying or graduating with degrees in illustration and animation. We have a great relationship with Northeastern University and have hosted many of their co-op students with paid internships that have transitioned to us hiring them,

I truly believe what sets us apart is our transparency, responsiveness, skills and deliverables to our clients. On so many occasions we receive praise from our clients and feedback of why they left other agencies in favor of working with us. Makes me very proud of my business and team.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I am very excited for two new initiatives we are launching soon in Q2 2018.

On the messaging sticker front we are about to launch stickers for TV and film studios that link fans to a video trailer. This marketing feature can be extended to brands of video games, concerts, sports events, etc. For example Disney’s Christopher Robin stickers could offer fans a view of the film’s trailer.

On the messaging Camera front, I am excited for our entry into Augmented Reality. We have already launched some generic AR effects on Facebook, but we will release AR effects for brands. Imagine a sports team AR effect where you can wear the team jersey virtually, or a non-profit and your face can change to that of an endangered species.

We also recently moved to the Chinatown section of Boston in January. The Coalition group revamped an old building here and created a new and very cool co-working space for small companies, at first I wasn’t a big fan of Chinatown, but once we moved in I began to explore the area and now love it. Our office is on the 6th floor of the East-West Bank. It’s very cheesy as you walk into what appears to be a bank lobby, take the rickety small elevator to the 6th floor and you enter the newest Coalition location and our cozy little office with some brick and a large window to view Boston. In the same building on the backside is the trendy restaurant and bar Shojo. Great place to unwind and have a team meeting or entertain guests and clients. We are also a short walk from Downtown Crossing or Boston Commons. It’s the place to be and my team and I love it here.

Pricing:

  • Branded Facebook frames starting at $3,000
  • Branded sticker campaigns starting at $5,000
  • Branded AR Camera effects starting at $5,000
  • Branded sticker-photo apps starting at $10,000

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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