Issue No. 29
— March 2017




Digital trend publication
blending a mix of culture,
insights and data.

A trend product by

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It is official. No social digital platform will stop introducing new features. Translation - they won't stop making it harder for you to come up with enough content.


We write this only a few days after Instagram has announced albums, now allowing us to post as many as twelve photos and videos because just one great image wasn't hard enough. If I sound a little bitter, understand that I am bitter on behalf of brands everywhere. We have our own studio, cameras, lenses, lights, seamless backdrops, photographers, the list goes on. Think of your own team. Think of the one-person businesses. It all seems almost unfair.


With that said, we give you our most tactical Content Issue to date. Some how-to's, some explanations of our approaches, some inspiration to drive you forward.


Don't get distracted, as someone famous once said, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial". Focus on what is true to your brand, and let the rest fall to the side."



Contributing Editor


Editor's Letter


“Consuming the content and culture of creatives does not make one a creative. Creating makes a creative.”


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Dig into the issue by clicking on the links below!



1. No Rules, Just Creativity: The Rule-Breaking Science Behind Killer Content

"Unlike the 300 years of experience creating newspaper ads, or 97 years experience of what works in radio and 75 years in TV, we’re still learning what does and doesn’t work in social. We’re still getting to grips on what a ‘like’ actually means commercially, or if we can really count 3 seconds watched of a video as a ‘view’ etc. Which means it is hard to live by a set of ‘rules’ when the platforms and behaviour are still evolving."


— Kathryn Jubrail, ODD London



In the frenzied digital world, content can come and go too quickly. Nolan reflects back on a few pieces of content that hold a special place in his digital heart, and gives a small glimpse of the process behind each.


— Nolan Goff, Content Director at Matte Black



3. Utilizing Instagram's New Multiple Photo feature

Instagram recently opened up it's multiple photo feature to all users, something previously only available to advertizers. What does that mean for brands? More content, yay! The team at Matte Black is sharing the best ways brands can use this feature from a content perspective. 


4. Get that content

In a world where content is king, you should want the best of it. The content team at Matte Black is sharing alternative ways for you and your brand to source content when you might not have the budget or resources to create it yourself. 


5. The best of Live Content

Live streaming is having a moment right now. Essentially shifting the way we view content, platforms like Facebook and Instagram Live are more important than ever. This list breaks down some of the best brands and individuals who producing quality, live content.


— Alexa Jacobs, Live Programming + Partnerships at Matte Black



6. Cubby Graham

In this issue's influencer spotlight, we connect with Cubby Graham, the creative genius behind charity:water's uber-successful social media. Cubby is just as passionate about charity:water's mission as he is about content, connection and using his own platform to inspire.





7. Design

8. Advertising

9. Culture

10. Design




In this episode, we're giving praise to Spotify, a company that is using it's data to connect to consumers in a cool, modern way.


A discussion between Micah Heykoop + Aria Davis.





"It's easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date."

— Roger von Oech

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ABSTRACT: The Art Of Design

It’s been a couple of weeks now since this new 8-episode design documentarywas released on Netflix - and I finally had a chance to catch up on it this weekend. Each episode tells the story of a leader in a different design field. Illustration, architecture, photography, interior design, automotive design, stage design and footwear design - are all represented in the series. Each episode does a great job to show both the design process as well as a look into the life of the designer. While all of them are interesting, the episode featuring graphic designer Paula Scher was definitely the highlight for me.


Spanning more than four decades (so far), Paula’s career has had massive impact. She became the first female principal at Pentagram in 1991, and has since been tributed with being one of the most influential designers alive. She pioneered both the world of design and typography and has designed everything from iconic global brand to single run one-off posters. Her passion for creating is so apparent that it is truly contagious. 


Each designer featured provides fascinating insight to their world, but more so than the others, Paula’s episode left me energized and inspired. Whether you’re a designer or simply appreciate great design in the world around us, I can’t recommend this series enough.


- Jesse Ligo, Art Director




Truth and Advertising in the Age of Trump

Depending on who you talk to, and what side of the political spectrum they lean toward, over the past few months one thing has been certain: The media is waging a war on President Trump or President Trump is waging a war on the media. Droga5 created an advertisement for The New York Times, which aired during the 89th Academy Awards, and this article from AdWeek highlights that President Trump has already used his Twitter Pulpit to publicly scorn the "failing" New York Times on their "bad" advertisement.


With a slew of Super Bowl commercials having overtly political tones, and this New York Times ad following suit, an important question comes to mind: What role or responsibility do advertisers and marketers have to be a part of the political discourse? As this "war" between the White House and the Free Press continues on, I have a feeling that answer will become abundantly clear.


- Jonathan Godinho, Project Manager at Matte Black




Ten Meter Tower

"We sought to capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt."


In life, we make a lot of decisions. And a lot of those decisions are mired with doubt. Is this idea a good one? Should I expand upon it? Should I take that leap of faith and push the needle? Do something that might be scary in the moment but leaves me feeling invigorated afterwards? The answer, reading this, right now, is, "yes." We are all thinking, "of course, I would do it."


But when faced with the decision in the moment, that decision making becomes a lot harder. This video produced by the New York Times gives us a look at doubt. At what the inner-expression looks like IRL and it is so hypnotizing. As you watch this video, you'll find yourself rooting for those in it. You'll find your heart beating faster as they take that leap of faith. And you'll find you're disappointed when they don't.


So, moral of the story, do the things that scare you. You'll never know what could happen, how amazing your life could be, what great thing you could accomplish, if you never take that first step off the diving board. 



- Nicole Best, Social & Influence Manager at Matte Black




on the grid



We geek out on design, so ultimately, any way that designers find an opportunity to showcase something - anything - better than the average joe truly excites us. When searching for some unique locations for an upcoming shoot, the internet rabbit hole led us to this gem. Created by designers, and curated by designers, this is the prettiest (visually) guide to where to go, what to do, and in what neighborhoods... around the world... that we've ever seen.


- Chelsea Matthews, Editor-in-Chief


No Rules, Just Creativity.

The Rule-Breaking Science Behind Killer Content

By kathryn Jubrail


I was recently at a training day, held by a large social platform, with predominantly creative agencies. As they started working through ‘best in class’ case studies you could feel the uneasy movement in chairs. We were being shown a social ad that was 2 minutes long and the brand didn’t appear until the end frame:


The room twitched. Hands started to rise and throats were cleared.


The problem was majority of people in that room had been advised that the optimum video length was 8 seconds and branding needs to appear within 3 seconds. And if they hadn’t learnt this themselves from the platforms then their clients had, and they enforced it with their agency.


Next up, an Apple ad from 2016, beautifully executed and captivating, but was full of copy, which up until a year ago any social ad with more than 20% text was penalised on Facebook:


By the fifth case study, what became evident was everything we were being shown, were brilliant examples of creativity. And some of them, but not all, creatively leveraged the format they were being played in. e.g.



Slowly, in a smug wave, it dawned on the room that social ads are like all other forms of advertising: only as good as the creative idea. Yes there are new things to learn about optimising creative in these channels, but we’re still in the industry of creativity.


Unlike the 300 years of experience creating newspaper ads, or 97 years experience of what works in radio and 75 years in TV, we’re still learning what does and doesn’t work in social. We’re still getting to grips on what a ‘like’ actually means commercially, or if we can really count 3 seconds watched of a video as a ‘view’ etc. Which means it is hard to live by a set of ‘rules’ when the platforms and behaviour are still evolving.


So what can we learn from the twitchy room of agency folk and the poor social platform speaker who just wanted us to get excited about their formats?

There were three key take-aways for me:


The first, without stating the obvious, was that we shouldn’t lose sight of the creative idea in a sea of ‘best practises.’ So rather than the emphasis being on creating an 8-second video, it should be on creating an inspiring/interesting/shocking/emotional/surprising video that can be any length (within reason), as long as like all good stories, you grab someone’s attention in the first 3-8 seconds.


The second was use the format and its ‘restrictions’ to your advantage to push the creative execution.


The third was we should take advantage of the fact the platforms and behaviour is still evolving and look at it as an opportunity to experiment, test and learn. The more we do, the more we learn, the better we become.





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Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Delanie Billman


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Creative Direction
Nolan Goff


Art Direction + Design
Jesse Ligo



Kourtney Jackson



Nicole Best


Research Coordinator
Jacob Marrero


Aria Davis



Cubby Graham

Cubby Graham is the Social Media Strategist at charity: water, a best in class nonprofit working to bring clean water to people in need. At his core, Cubby sees his job as that of a storyteller, helping people by telling inspiring stories of impact and creating digital experiences that demonstrate transparency and bring supporters closer to the communities they're serving around the world. He's been at charity: water for four years. He loves robots and making new friends.


Someone to follow on Instagram? @JeremySnell

Last song played: Every song on Johnnyswim’s latest album. On repeat.

City to escape to: Disneyland

Comfort food: Waffles topped with bananas, peanut butter, Nutella, syrup and sprinkled with a little bit of hot cocoa mix.

Something to check off your bucket list: Ending the water crisis




Kathryn Jubrail

Kathryn heads up the Strategy team at ODD, a Creative Agency based in London that works with clients like Dr Martens, Levi's, River Island, F&F and Eastpak. When she's not in the office, Kathryn is currently either elbow deep in boxes, dust and covered in paint, as she is undergoing renovations on her home, or finding sanctuary in nearby coffee shops. 


Streaming on Netflix: The OA

Bar order: Old Fashioned

Author to read: Margaret Atwood

Childhood comfort: I loved playing with labels on clothes

Celebrity crush: Ryan Gosling (obvious I know, but LA LA Land has really reignited the crush) 

Nolan Goff
By day, Nolan Goff is the Guy Fieri of #firecontent at Matte Black. By night, he's a writer of screenplays and enjoys napping in theaters. 

Pet peeve: When people are sitting in the back of the plane, but stand up and get their bags down from the overhead bin as soon as we pull into the gate. It's going to be a minute, y'all.
Last song played: You're Still the One by Shania Twain
Streaming on Netflix (Hulu): You're the Worst
Life goal: Watching my film play at the Eccles Theatre in Park City, Utah. 
Most inspiring city: Denton, TX

Alexa Jacobs

Alexa Jacobs heads up Live Programming + Partnerships for Matte Black. Made in Miami Beach former New Yorker and Shanghai-ren.  When she's not capturing Instagram Stories you'll find her working on her passion project, Merchant Society collaborating with artisans in developing communities in India. 


Childhood comfort:  Drawing still lifes of items around the house. And mac & cheese, of course. 

Secret skill:  Packing, always carry-on 

City to escape to: Jaipur, India 

Podcast to listen to: How I Built This by Guy Raz 

Snack of choice: Honey Hi, a little cafe in Echo Park