Fam Mirza is the Founder and Creative Director at Mirza Minds, a product branding and marketing firm based in Chicago. With a number of successful celebrity related projects under his belt, Mirza is now hard at work on launching the 1Face Watch campaign, which marks his entry into the charity space. I recently caught up with Fam to talk to him about this latest development in his career.
According to Mirza the 1Face project is much more than a watch, it’s about the brand which socializes the product, meets metrics, and creates social change throughout the world. The brand’s mission is “Changing the world, 1: face at a time.” When people grasp that concept and want to share it on their social media pages and with their friends, that’s when the campaign takes on a life of its own.
Sales of the watch go to fund six different charities, such as the American Cancer Society, Keep a Child Alive and The Adventure Project, each one linked to a different color watch. Consumers contribute to the charity of their choice by purchasing watches and are told how many they must buy in order to underwrite nutritional supplements for a child for 1 week (1), fund AIDS treatment for 1 month for 1 child (4), or build a well in Rwanda (625), encouraging them to bring in friends to help meet their goals.
The branding of this charitable campaign was begun well in advance of the September 24th launch that will take place on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, with a well-produced video trailer (that he directed – his first!) on youtube garnering over 8000 views in just over a month, 4000 followers on Facebook and 5000 Instagram followers, who are in turn actively sharing campaign images to many thousands more.
Creating a buzz is something that Mirza has been doing since he was 15, when he and his partner saw their idea for a split jersey promoted at the 2001 Super Bowl by rapper Nelly, as he sported the garment during the halftime show. Riding the wave of the jersey trend, successful hand to hand sales quickly gave way to even wider internet distribution at a time when the net as we know it today was still in its relative infancy.
In 2009-2010, Fam was introduced to musician and entrepreneur Diddy by his manager Hiriam Hicks. He developed and promoted a wildly successful series of concert tour after-parties for him known as The Diddy Parties. A few months later, Mirza further cemented his reputation as a player in the world of celebrity branding, when he worked with internet sensation Antoine Dodson, to create and sell the popular Bed Intruder Halloween Costume.
I asked Fam what inspired the decision to shift his focus from purely commercial projects to charitable works. He replied, “I grew up in a third world country until I was 5 or 6… I feel like I’ve experienced the hardships of the third world as well as the benefits of the first. It was something I wanted to bring together to help humanity…”
Mirza was fortunate to get early support to launch his business in the form of funding for the split jersey venture from Chicago Bears player Desmond Clark. From there, he’s been able to fund each subsequent project out of proceeds from the last one. He’s built his fourteen person creative agency with team members from across the globe who have worked alongside him for the last eight years.
His greatest challenge has not been getting all of his creatives together, it’s been keeping the abundance of ideas from his team focused and organized. As he explains it, “An idea is worth nothing, execution is everything.” This focus on execution is one of his chief pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. The other is, “You have to love what you do in order to be great at it.” He further describes the passion he feels for his work. “When I wake up in the morning, I think about coming to the office… I just love to create… The greatest thing out of all of it is when the world interacts with your creation.”
Now he’s taking that interaction with the world to a whole new level. For Mirza, marketing is all about creativity and connecting with his consumers. He sees this as an inherently visual process, incorporating quality typography, photography and video as featured elements in his outreach. He explains, “You go viral when you create premium content which the world can share. If you share a photo from my site and get over 12000 likes, that says something, and that’s how you do viral.” A big fan of Instagram, he is convinced that this will be the social networking site to beat in 2014, surpassing in popularity even its increasingly commercial parent company, Facebook.
If the early numbers are an accurate indication, then Mirza’s ideas about utilizing creative visual elements to build a strong social media buzz and galvanize civic involvement in humanitarian causes are on target. He’s betting that consumers are hungry for something more than just a product. With the 1 Face Watch, he’s aiming to give it to them.
Listen to the full interview here:
Deborah Oster Pannell is a writer who specializes in the arts, culture, special events and creative projects of all kinds. As Director of Communications for the tech start-up eventwist, she also manages their blog. Some of her favorite work is featured on modernlifeblogs.com, lizkingevents.com, and her own blog, shesaysyes.wordpress.com. Currently she is launching Project Mavens, a literary, editorial design collective, with partner & writer Lillian Ann Slugocki. On Twitter @projectmaven.